Scott Gray Sports Commentary, Tuesday, August 5th, 2014
THE SADDEST WORDS
From the works of poet John Greenleaf Whittier comes no more poignant quote than, “Of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.'”
Red Sox and Yankees fans look back on the last week and think, “What might have been?”
Sox fans have wondered all season what happened to the Olde Towne Team, a season removed from a World Series Championship. They had the same look this season, beards and all, but the magic wasn’t there. That’s what it was, magic. Last year every player overachieved, for many, even though they weren’t hall of fame stats, it was a career year. From Napoli, to Drew, to Saltalamacchia to call ups as fill ins, supplementing old reliables Dustin Pedrioa, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz, every time a big hit or a big play was needed, the right player was in the right place at the right time. Back to back such seasons are rare. The Sox had nowhere to go but down.
Don’t discount the loss of Ellsbury to the Yankees, and once word got out that miracles were out of fashion at Fenway and Ortiz had little to fear behind him in the lineup, Big Papi started seeing fewer choice deliveries. With Yoenis Cespedis now hitting behind him Ortiz has his most consistent “wrecking crew” partner since Manny Ramirez. Unfortunately his addition, and that of Allen Craig, came at a high cost in pitching. One can only wonder what might have been if the Sox still had Jon Lester, Jake Peavy and John Lackey, backed by the offense they can now produce.
The Yankees are in a similar situation. One of the most surprisingly ineffective offenses in the American League, with two expected producers, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran spending more time off the field than on and Brian McCann turning into one of the biggest free agent busts of the year, the Yanks needed to rely heavily on their pitching. That’s no mean feat, with, now, five of the six pitchers who originally vied for rotation spots on the shelf, at least two of them, perhaps three, for the duration.
The Yankee offense got a lot healthier with deadline beating acquisitions Martin Prado, Chase Headley and Stephen Drew, putting more major league stability in the lineup and in the defense, just when Beltran and Teixeira were beginning to surface.
Just as the offense showed signs of getting healthy David Phelps became the latest starter to find his way to the disabled list. To stay in contention the Yankees are now going to need more than Brandan McCarthy, Hiroki Kuroda and a prayer, they’ll need some of those miracles left over from Boston last year and Yankee fans are likely to finish the season like Red Sox fans, wondering, if Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda had only stayed healthy, what might have been.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.