A Dream That Don't Come
Date: Thursday, August 16, 2001
From: Kevin Hench
Subject: A Dream That Don't Come True
Now those memories come back to haunt me
They haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse
- Bruce Springsteen, The River
Congregation gathers down by the riverside
Preacher stands with his bible, groom stands
waitin' for his bride
Congregation gone and the sun sets behind a
weepin' willow tree
Groom stands alone and watches the river rush on
Wonderin' where can his baby be
Still at the end of every hard-earned day
People find some reason to believe
- Bruce Springsteen, Reason to Believe
As the perennially Jilted Nation turns its lonely eyes to 2002, some will no doubt kick themselves for being suckered in again this season. But I maintain that it was not folly to believe this year. We should have won it all this year. In fact, it took an incalculable series of events to derail us from our destiny, beginning with the never-before-heard-of split longitudinal tendon and continuing through rotator cuff inflammation, broken radial head (elbow) and the failure of faith healing on an injured knee.
Why did we believe?
Could it be that we were the only team in spring
training that could salivate at the prospect of a five-man starting rotation
that featured five pitchers who had pitched in All-Star games. Pedro, Nomo,
Arrojo, Cone and Saberhagen. The truly torturous part is that we have seen how
dominant this staff could have been. Pedro dominates the Mariners in Seattle in
a 2-0 win. Nomo backs up his no-hitter with a 14-K, 0-walk one-hitter of the
Jays. Arrojo one-hits the Jays over seven. Cone wins seven straight
decisions. Saberhagen dominates the hot-hitting Chisox over six innings in his
first start. This could have been a team for the ages but for the fact that
pitching a baseball is a fundamentally unnatural act that invariably leads to
Surprisingly, Wakefield did not make the All-Star team the year he started 14-1. But between Wakes and Castillo (10-5 last year) we figured to have more starting pitching depth than anyone.
The pen looked solid. We had a three-time All-Star against whom opponents hit .222 last year as the set-up man (Rod Beck), and a first-time All-Star who tied for the league lead in saves last year as our closer (Derek Lowe). Throw in the addition of another All-Star closer at the trading deadline (Ugueth Urbina) and that brings the Red Sox total of All-Star pitchers to eight, three in the pen.
Well, you all know what happened. Pedro's summer vacation was three months instead of 15 days. Cone missed a month, Castillo missed a month, Saberhagen missed four months and counting, and most recently Arrojo has been sidelined and Nomo missed a turn. The pen, conversely, has been pretty healthy but really awful. Rich Garces and Hipolito Pichardo both made trips to the DL, but, sadly, Beck and Lowe have not. Beck may set a Major League record for home runs per inning pitched and Lowe has already set the unofficial record for home runs per curveball thrown. Throw in the phenomenal disasters of Bryce Florie and Pete Schourek and one understands how the team leads the AL in relief losses.
And now to the position players, where one split longitudinal tendon can apparently ruin your whole year. Not having Nomar for all those excruciatingly close losses in the first half was, well, excruciating.
In spring training, we thought we'd have five All-Stars in our nine-man lineup.
We'd have three-time All-Star Nomar at short, two-time All-Star and supposedly over his knee problem Jose Offerman at second, Carl Everett, fresh off his first All-Star season in center, four-time All-Star Dante Bichette at DH, and three-timer Manny Ramirez in left.
So, barring injury, our 25-man roster would have featured 13 All-Stars.
Barring injury... that's a good idea, especially when Arthur Pappas is your team doctor. Next year let's bar injury.
Now we all know that those 13 All-Stars have not once crossed paths with each other this season. They've been spread out from Sarasota to Trenton to Fort Myers to the Dominican Republic. Let's sum up the nightmare, including a rough estimate of the various injuries' predictability:
All-Star (most recent year) Injury Predictability
Garciaparra (2000) split longitudinal tendon 1%
Carl Everett (2000) Evangelist's knee 10%
Pedro Martinez (2000) rotator inflammation 40%
David Cone (1999) old man shoulder 90%
Bret Saberhagen (1994) old man shoulder 95%
Rolando Arrojo (1998) old man shoulder 65%
Hideo Nomo (1995) split callous 15%
Non-All-Star Injury Predictability
Jason Varitek broken radial head (elbow) 1%
John Valentin old knee, old heel 90%
Brian Daubach foul-ball-off-ankle infection 1%
Frank Castillo strained lat 5%
Hipolito Pichardo elbow, split callous 30%
Chris Stynes hammy, broken face 20%, 1%
Rich Garces hammy 20%
Craig Grebeck dwarfism 100%
Throw out the flu that sidelined Manny and Scott Hatteberg and crunch the numbers on the above injuries and you realize that the odds of what happened to us happening to us are over 53 trillion to one. Seriously. 53, 361,000,000,000 to 1. Now there's a stat.
That's what makes this year tougher in a way than '86 or '78. The remarkable cruelty of this season has been unabating. They began dropping like flies in spring training and it never stopped.
Get healthy. Get Felipe Alou. Get Chan Ho Park. Get Bret Boone.
... and we'll find some reason to believe.