Report Card (11)
We’re a month into the 2013 Major League Baseball season and things are looking awfully good so far for the Boston Red Sox. They’re sitting at the top of the division and performing well in just about every aspect of the game.
While they’ve had to deal with some injuries, the general esprit de corps of this team has made them a pleasure to watch – a far cry from the frankly unlikeable squads Boston has sported over the past couple of seasons. Regardless, it’s nice to have baseball back.
After 17 weeks, the 2012 NFL regular season has finally come to an end. The New England Patriots have once more made their way into the postseason, riding a 12-4 record to the 2-seed in the AFC and a first round bye.
The Patriots finished out the year by winning three of their last four, their only loss coming at the hands of the playoff-bound 49ers. While their win over the Jaguars was lackluster, they looked great in demolishing the Texans and shutting out Miami in the season’s last game. The team looks to be in solid shape heading toward the Super Bowl.
What a difference a month makes.
Over the past four games, the New England Patriots have played at an incredibly high level. An argument could be made, in fact, that they have been the best team in football over the past four games. The offense has been as high-octane as ever, while the defense has made a significant turnaround. Add to that some high-quality special teams play and it’s no wonder that the Pats have won their last four.
There is no denying that the New England Patriots haven’t started the season the way they would have liked. The Pats sit at 2-2 after the first four games of 2012; still, while Coach Bill Belichick and company would probably prefer to be sitting north of .500, there are reasons for optimism.
For instance, while New England is indeed 2-2, those two losses were by a grand total of three points. Losing to Arizona was unexpected, but it was only a two point loss – a loss to a team that appears to have a defense far more ferocious than anyone thought possible. And losing by a single point to Baltimore – a probable playoff team – is certainly understandable, if not exactly welcome.
Even optimism has its limits. We are reaching those limits when it comes to the 2012 Red Sox. As we enter August, it is clear that this season’s squad is underachieving.
That’s not to say that they are a bad team. They’re not. A bad team, we could deal with. We dealt with bad teams for a long time. No, what we have in 2012 is worse – a mediocre team. Boston has hovered around the .500 mark for the entire season; there have been a couple of strong stretches, but even those were almost immediately offset by bad patches.
This season’s addition of a second wild card playoff spot has kept postseason hope alive in Boston. However, it has also kept hope alive in several other cities across the country. It’s going to take an extended stretch of quality play to give the Red Sox a chance to leapfrog into that wild card spot. Is it possible? Absolutely. Is it likely? I’m not so sure.
There’s no disputing that the 2012 Red Sox season has been a bit of a disappointment thus far. Sure, there have been extenuating circumstances – the number of injuries has bordered on astounding – but those problems are no different than those shared by half the teams in the league.
After a less-than-ideal start, the Sox spent the month of May slowly digging themselves out of the hole April put them in. In fits and starts, the team managed to drag itself above the .500 mark and enter June with a winning record.
Sure, they’re still planted at the bottom of the division, but the American League East is going to be won by a war of attrition – there are only a couple of games currently separating first from last. But if the Red Sox want to be a serious contender, they need to build on what successes they’ve had this month and find a way to make some significant upgrades.
The 2011 season is proving to be quite a roller coaster ride for the New England Patriots. This team has Jekyll and Hyde written all over it. Sure the team is sitting at 5-3, but they’ve lost their last two games. They’ve got one of the most prolific offenses in the league (although that squad has sputtered a bit in recent weeks), but they’ve also got a defense that, at least at the halfway point, appears to have the potential to be historically inept.
Of course, there’s still plenty of football to be played. While the offense likely isn’t quite as good as it looked early in the season, odds are that the defense isn’t nearly as bad.
On to the Progress Report:
We're coming up on the home stretch of the 2011 Major League Baseball season. As things stand right now, the Boston Red Sox look to be almost assured of a playoff spot. While they're still in a close race for the American League East title with the Yankees, it is all but a certainty that the loser in that battle will take the AL wild card spot.
Boston's August wasn't its best month; their record was a rather pedestrian 17-12. Mounting significant momentum in the dog days of summer is no easy task, however, so a record of five games over .500 is nothing to sneeze at. With just four short weeks left, it's time for the Red Sox to get their ducks in a row for what we hope will be another deep playoff run.
July was an awfully good month for the Red Sox. The squad went 20-6 over the course of the month and featured the two hottest hitters in the American League in Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, not to mention two of the best pitchers in Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.
There were plenty of highlights, but the only thing that matters is where the team sits in the standings. As of the end of July, the Red Sox remained perched atop the American League East standings, sporting the best record in the AL and behind only the Philadelphia Phillies in all of Major League Baseball. Despite injuries and the occasional battle with ineffectiveness, the Sox are standing strong going into the season's final two months.
On to the Report Card.
We’re officially four weeks into the NFL season and the Patriots are off to another great start. New England is sitting at 3-1 and looking really tough to beat. Sure, the defense has been a little shaky, but with Tom Brady at the helm of a high-flying offense, New England has just been outscoring other teams.
This is most definitely a flawed team, and a lot of improvements will need to be made if they’re to have any hope of going all the way. They can score enough to get to the playoffs, but can they prevent enough scoring to win once they get there? We’ll see as the season progresses. For now, just sit back and watch the offensive fireworks.
On to the Progress Report.
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