by Mark Lawrence, International Editor
Sydney, Australia. Well, here we are again, Nation, another All Star Break has come and our devotion to the Olde Towne Team is again giving us ulcers and conniption fits, as we gear up for the second half of what's been a pretty disappointing season. And yet....
I've always been a big fan of that anything's-possible aspect of the National Pastime, and we've all seen it in evidence many, many times. The Greatest Comeback in Baseball History comes to mind, of course, but there have been countless other times when the tide of a game has turned in our favour on a single swing, or a bobbled ball, or any one of a million other quirky little accidents. So, while we are - sadly - a sub-five hundred outfit at the break, there's no reason at all to assert that we're completely out of contention.
This year's edition of the bullpen has been pretty solid so far and we've got a couple of starters who seem like they can get the job done on a fairly consistent basis and - hey - isn't it nice to see Clay Buchholz again, dealing like he oughta? Relief pitching hasn't been horrible, either, and of course, there's always Koji waiting in the wings when we need him. So - pitching? Check.
I had been wondering how things might stand now if the Flyin' Hawaiian had stayed healthy, or if the Sizemore Experiment had somehow paid off, but there are no what-mighta-bins in baseball. Better to use that time to marvel at the emergence of the astonishing Brock Holt and the other young studs in the line-up. Holt - that young-Matt-Damon-looking phenom - has impressed the hell out of a lot of people in the organisation and you can be certain there's a drive inside the young Texan that's going to propel him to even great success. Brock and the other youngsters need to succeed like they need to drink water - they'll give the team everything they've got, just to make sure they stick around - and whatever the outcome of this 2014 tilt, you can pretty much bet cash money that some of these kids are going to have a terrific 2015 - and that's your Farm System at work, right there.
If we assume that every little thing will indeed be alright and Victorino does return to the line up sooner rather than later, well, who's to say that a little offensive spark might not be struck? Hell, and why not? It couldn't hurt, could it? And while Papi and Pedey and the remaining Beards might not be hitting as well as they were this time last year, I say So What? The rest of the Division isn't exactly lighting up the old baseball stratosphere, either. And talking about the Division, you might want to consider the second half schedule, too. Of the remaining 97 games to be played, Boston gets to face its AL East competitors in 38 of them - you couldn't ask for a better opportunity to make up some lost ground in what is - you'd have to admit - a pretty lacklustre division. So, while there may be a few leaks in the boat, all is not lost - at least, not just yet. Our Boston Red Sox might just surprise us - again.