Despite the crushing 19-inning defeat to end the first half, any rational Red Sox fan would have to admit that being 3 games up at the All-Star break is a welcome, and somewhat unexpected, luxury. Think of all the questions that hung over this team in Spring Training. Most—with the notable exception of middle relief— have been resolved in a positive way. The entirely new infield has become the top defensive unit in baseball—and all four have performed at or near .300 offensively. Trot Nixon is proving to be a productive # 5 hitter in his "walk" year—and is, so far, injury-free. Manny is cranking out another "Manny" year—and actually talks about playing out his full contract in Boston. Curt Schilling appears to be in mid-2004 form, and is also staying injury-free. Coco is a welcome dose of speed and seems to be returning to pre-injury form. Youkilis has made me (and many others) eat crow.
And, then there is David Ortiz—AKA, Clark Kent with a bat. Is there anything else to say about this guy? At this pace, he is a lock for the MVP that he should have gotten last year. Of course, Papelbon and Lester could be the pitching analogs of the Gold Dust Twins (Rice & Lynn) that got us into the World Series in 1975.
Lord knows, we still need a fifth starter until Clement returns (if he does at all), and the middle relief (outside of the "kids") is still scary. But, all in all, I'll take where we are—on top and looking down at the fallen Empire.