What’s wrong with me?
Why do I worry about show ponies when I have Secretariat barreling down the stretch right in front of my eyes?
When do I give up the ghost of skepticism and just admit that these Red Sox are going to win the World Series?
As they prep for a four-game Fenway showdown against the Yankees in which they could effectively wrap up the AL East, the Sox have the best team in baseball. All the numbers say so.
The Sox have the best record in the game (75-34). They are enjoying a monster season. This is their best record at this stage of a season since 1946, the year Ted Williams and his Teammates came back from The War.
The 2018 Sox have the highest payroll in baseball ($237 million) and are on a pace to win 111 games. They lead the majors in runs per game and run differential (plus-176). Boston’s starting pitchers just went through a 12-game stretch with a 1.41 ERA, which is the best for any Sox team over a 12-game stretch since 1933.
The Sox have MVP candidates in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. They have the probable Cy Young winner in Chris Sale and they have an All-Star closer who strikes everybody out. They have a rookie manager who’s more popular than free food.
Everyone I speak with says these Red Sox are baseball’s best. Wednesday’s sports cover of the never-failing New York Times featured the headline “Every Team In Baseball Is Chasing The Red Sox.’’
So why am I still worried?
Why can’t I enjoy the historic ride? Why can’t I embrace the greatness and remember those Sox juggernauts from 2013, 2007, and 2004?
Maybe all those near-misses in the last century damaged my sports psyche. Maybe it’s the ghost of Grady, or the memory of what Chicken and Beer did in 2011. Maybe it’s the residue of back-to-back division winners getting smoked out of the first round the last two years (1-6 in October in 2016 and 2017).
Or maybe it’s these things:
■ Sale went on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday with what was described as “mild inflammation” of his left shoulder. Everyone went out of their way to minimize this — Sale even told us he would be pitching vs. the Yankees Thursday if the Sox really needed him — but this is a red flag nonetheless.
Boston’s Cy Future has a history of wearing down late in the season, failed in his only career playoff start last season, and has been on a special program to prevent fatigue since February.
■ Dave Dombrowski did a nice job getting Steve Pearce, Nathan Eovaldi, and Ian Kinsler before the deadline, but he did not address the eighth-inning situation (unless you assume that Eovaldi can do that job). The notion that Eovaldi was a better fit than Zach Britton was simply folly. We know the Sox tried to get Britton and didn’t have the prospects.
No major league team filled every one of its needs. But I fear the Sox are going to regret not acquiring a reliable bullpen guy. When Dombrowski says, “We think realistically that our bullpen’s pretty good,’’ he is telling you that he expects Tyler Thornburg to return to the form that made him a stud for the Brewers two years ago.
Here’s hoping Dombrowski’s optimism is based on reality rather than pride of authorship.
■ Tomato Cans for everyone: The American League is stacked with bums this year. After Boston, New York, Cleveland, Houston, Seattle, and Oakland, there is . . . nothing. The Sox went from July 2 to July 29 without playing a single team that was over .500 as of Wednesday.
Then the Phillies came to town and it was like the Sox were playing a different sport. In two great games against Philadelphia, Boston scored three runs over 22 innings. That’s playoff baseball. How will the Sox hold up?
■ The threat from New York: Starting Thursday, the Sox and Yankees are going to play one another 10 more times in the regular season, including the final three at Fenway Sept. 28-30.
There’s a false notion that the Red Sox and Yankees play one another in the postseason every October. It actually hasn’t happened since the Sox’ epic comeback in 2004. Assuming the Yankees or Sox make it through the wild-card game (a dangerous bakeoff that is to be avoided at all costs), they are almost certainly headed for a first-round, best-of-five Division Series.
Even though the Sox were able to build their lead to six games over the Yankees this week, New York is only three behind in the All-Important Loss Column. A four-game sweep by the Yankees would erase almost all of the Sox’ hard-earned cushion.
■ There’s almost too much pressure on the Sox to win this year. Boston’s playoff folds of 2016 and 2017 will be well-documented between now and October.
None of the players on the current roster have ever succeeded in Boston in October. Pressure has never been David Price’s friend. Dombrowski is also wearing this pressure. Boston’s farm system is empty at the Double A and Triple A levels, and Craig Kimbrel is in his walk season.
The Sox are built to win this year and just endured a trading deadline that made it obvious that the Yankees, Indians, Astros (and Dodgers) are all-in to win in 2018. It feels like no one is thinking beyond this season.
I pledge to enjoy the ride. October baseball is going to be great.
But I’ll probably still be doubting these unstoppable Red Sox right up until the Duck Boats roll past my front porch.