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BOSTON (CBS) – We may never know if a tree makes a sound if it falls in the forest with nobody around to hear it, but this weekend we will discover what happens when the so-called greatest rivalry in sports takes place in the Bronx and nobody in Boston is around to care.
That’s what’s on tap this weekend in New York, as the sub-.500, last-place Red Sox visit the first-place Yankees for a three-game set in late July with literally nothing at stake for either club.
Of course, that’s not to say the Red Sox themselves – be it the players, coaches or the front office – have given up on the season or that the games won’t be worth watching. But as observers with four months of evidence, we know that the Red Sox need about a half-dozen miracles to even have a chance at making the playoffs.
Still, the Red Sox believe the season can be saved, and that reclamation can begin this weekend.
“We definitely need to win the series,” Adrian Gonzalez told redsox.com. “That goes without saying. We need to win two out of three, if not try and sweep them.”
Dustin Pedroia also believes there’s no time left to lose.
“We’re at a point now where we need to win,” Pedroia said this week. “That’s basically it. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”
Pedroia’s right in that it doesn’t matter who they’re playing, but only because they can’t seem to beat anyone. They’re 1-5 against the Yankees, 3-6 against the second-place Orioles and 5-7 against the Blue Jays. Their 7-5 mark against the Rays is their only winning record against an AL East opponent, and their collective record in the division is 16-23. Against the AL West-leading Rangers, they’re 1-4. Against the NL East-leading Nationals, they’re 0-3. They are 6-2 against the AL Central-leading White Sox, but they’re 3-4 against the second-place Tigers. Against the A’s, who currently hold a wild-card spot, they’re 1-5.
Add that all up, and against baseball’s playoff contenders, the Red Sox are 17-30. That’s not the mark of a team that can compete through the season’s final months. Amid the ongoing debate of people arguing whether the Red Sox are buyers or sellers, it is that .362 winning percentage against playoff teams that speaks the loudest.
Even if you add in the lousy opponents, the Red Sox overall winning percentage is just .495. In order to win 90 games and have even a small chance at making that one-game playoff, they’d have to play .651 baseball the rest of the way. Except maybe in Candy Land, baseball teams don’t generally flip a switch and completely change who they are after proving to be a mediocre club for four full months.
The Red Sox aren’t going anywhere this season, and while the players have the right mentality, we know that a sweep in the Bronx won’t change the team’s postseason fate one iota.
It’s a very strange scenario. We’ve seen some meaningless meetings between the two clubs in recent years, but they generally take place in late September, when their playoff spots are already secured and the two teams are just playing out the string. A late July matchup just before the deadline, though, was supposed to be a classic series featuring two of the best teams in baseball grinding their way through a tough weekend with first place on the line.
Instead, we’ll see a listless Red Sox team make its way to New York. Maybe they’ll get swept, or maybe they’ll sweep the Yankees themselves. Whatever happens, it won’t really make a difference. That’s something we just aren’t used to seeing this early in the season, but it perfectly sums up the disaster that has been the 2012 season.