Trick or Treat?

BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons
(BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons)

New York Back in the Driver's Seat

Bombers Bang 3 Homers to Take Series Lead
Sox Had Nice Weather for Golf Today


Happy Halloween

BDD Photo Illustration
(BDD Photo Illustration)

4 Years Ago, Theo Hit the Road

King of New York

Pedro Martinez #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies is heckled by fans as he comes out of the game in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees in Game Two of the 2009 MLB World Series against at Yankee Stadium on October 29, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.
(Nick Laham/Getty Images)

10 Years From Now, Pedro Will Have You Believing
He Won the Game Last Night

Series Even... But It Was All About Pedro
Martinez Didn't Blow Up, Burnett Just Shut the Philly Offense Down
Matsui Cheap Shot Homer Latest Embarrassment for New Stadium
At Least A-Rod Is Stinking Up the Joint

ďI know they really want to root for me. Itís just that I donít play for the Yankees. They love the fact that I compete. Iím a New Yorker as well. If I was on the Yankees, Iíd probably be like a king over here. But thatís not the case right now.Ē -- Pedro Martinez, a King among men

For Pete's Sake

BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons
(BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons)

Red Sox Nation Will Be Behind the Phillies Tonight

Let's Hope Pedro Can Still Run His Fastball As Well As His Mouth

Priceless quotes from Pedro Martinez: I think in every aspect, the way you guys have used me and abused me since I've been coming to Dodger Stadium (sic), just because I wore actually a red uniform just like this one while playing for Boston, it's been like ó I remember quotes in the paper, 'Here comes the man that New York loves to hate.' Man? None of you have probably ever eaten steak with me or rice and beans with me to understand what the man is about. You might say the player, the competitor, but the man? You guys have abused my name. You guys have said so many things, have written so many things...

I just compete. And yes, I will do whatever it takes to beat you. But I'm a human being after I take my clothes off. A lot of people can witness that any time, anywhere, any moment...

There was one time I remember when I was a free agent, there was talk that I might meet with Steinbrenner. One of your colleagues had me in the papers with horns and a tail, red horns and a tail. That's a sign of the devil. I'm a Christian man. I don't like those things. I take those things very serious...

I remember getting back to my dugout and seeing middle fingers. My mom, poor mom. I'm glad she's blessed by God because all those curses were, I mean, unbelievable...

I don't know if you realize this, but because of you guys in some ways, I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium... I have all the respect in the world for the way they enjoy being fans. Sometimes they might be giving you the middle finger, just like they will be cursing you and telling you what color underwear you're wearing... (a far cry from the quotes we hear at Fenway from the dullards that Theo has assembled in the post-2004 era)


Ut Oh! Ut Oh! ...

BDD - NYY Globetrotters
(BDD Photo Illustration)

Utley, Lee Are in Another World for Phillies
Globetrotters Go Down in Rare Defeat
A-Roid, Sabathia Can't Get It Done On the Big Stage

World Series Game 1: Philadelphia 6, Store-Bought All-Stars 1
Phil Sheridan: Lee a Cool Customer in Phillies Debut
That's 0-for-8 with 5 K's for the Half a Billion Dollar Heart of the Yankees' Order
This Just In: Yanks Look Old, Bullpen Not As Great As Advertised
Crime Watch: Woman Arrested for Trying to Trade Sex for Series Tickets

Yankee Fans Fold Like Cheap Suits, Too: "As the game went on, it got quieter." -- Phils' star Chase Utley

Green Light
BDD / Mike Briggs illustration

Here We Go Celtics, Here We Go
The Green Get the Ball Rolling in Cleveland Tonight

Starring KG as Batman, Sheed as Dr. Doom, Ray as the Green Arrow,
Paul as Superman, Perk as the Hulk, and Rondo as Spiderman
Updates from Cleveland Tonight
Saturday Night's Not Alright for Fighting:
Big Dummy Will Now Be Known As Glen
Did We Get Rondo'd?

This Just In
BDD Photo Illustration
(BDD Photo Illustration)

Steve Phillips Lands Role in Mad Men, Season 4

Phillips Joins the Gang at Sterling Cooper as
Roger Sterling's Long Lust Brother Steve

"I think he'll fit right in here. Somebody get him a secretary." -- Don Draper


Mo Bad Decisions ...

Phillips signed Mo Vaughn in 2001
(Photo: New York Daily News / Warga)

Trading for the Hit Dog in 2001

NY Post: Phillips, Gal Pal Fired from ESPN
The Move That Killed Phillips's Other Career
It's Called MLB Network, Call Anytime. Sincerely, Harold Reynolds

Let's Go Phillies!

Starting pitcher Pedro Martinez of the Philadelphia Phillies is in the World Series.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

Sloppy Angels Surrender at The Stadium
Yep, That's the Team that Swept Your Red Sox

ALCS Game 6: New York 5, Anaheim 2
Steinbrenner Traveling All-Stars to Play in World Series Exhibition
Washed-Up Johnny Damon Leads Yankees to Series
Just 4 Years After Getting Booted Out of Boston

Kazmir Does a Fantastic Chuck Knoblauch Imitation in the Field
Gaffes Galore for Anaheim
Somewhere on the Planet Today, Theo Epstein Is Defending
J.D. Drew's Contract a Little Too Strongly

Will It Be Deja Vu All Over Again in the Big Apple?

Boston Dirt Dogs graphic / Kent Jones
(Boston Dirt Dogs graphic / Kent Jones)

Things Are Going to Get Tight for A-Rod and Company
on Saturday Night

Torii Hunter: 'All the Pressure is On the Yankees'
NY Daily News: Girardi Should Be Fired if Yankees Lose to Angels
OC Register: How Can the Angels Win in New York?


Sox Fans Catch Playoff Fever

BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons
(BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons)

Lackey Exit Leaves McCarver Speechless
The Guy on the Rocks in Anaheim
Phillies: Bring on the Yankees | Steve Phillips Saga

Meanwhile, Pedro votes for the Yankees: "I'm not instigating anything, so guys, get it right: I respect the Yankees, I love the Yankees, but I would love to beat them as much as I look forward to playing them," " -- 10.23.09, New York Post

It's Always Funny in Philadelphia

A young boy holds up a sign referring to Los Angeles Dodgers' Manny Ramirez during Game 5 of the National League Championship baseball series against the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009, in Philadelphia.
(Reuters)

Philly Fans Shower Manny With Some Brotherly Love
The LA Media, Too

We Told You So Los Angeles...
Dodger Finally Meet the Lollygagging, Lazy Fielding, Mail It In Manny
Playoff Baseball's No Big Deal When You Can Shower, Shop, and Eat Sushi...
And Guess Who's Coming Back in Blue for $20 Million Next Year?
T.J. Simers: Squandering Everything, Just to End Up the Same as '08
Plaschke: Dodger Didn't Have What It Takes

"His awful second half of the season ended in an array of wild swings and jeers Wednesday, beginning in the fifth inning with the Dodgers still trailing just 6-3. With runners on first and second and facing new pitcher Chad Durbin, Ramirez bounced a ball in front of home plate, and he did not seem to run particularly hard, as he was easily thrown out to end the inning. And here came the Philly chants . . . 'You take steroids,' they screamed. 'Take a shower,' they howled.

Ramirez hit .263 in this series with one extra-base hit and countless blown opportunities, and talk about faith. The Dodgers must spend the winter praying that Ramirez relearns to hit with an untainted body. Ramirez could opt out of his $20-million contract, but he won't, because nobody will give him anything close to that sort of money, so both parties are stuck with each other." -- 10.22.09, Bill Plaschke, LA Times

"The latest Ramirez fiasco, while much ado about nothing except for those insisting he be a cheerleader, demonstrates what a polarizing figure Ramirez has become now that he can't be depended on to hit like his resume suggests. It's so easy to condemn him for taking a shower after leaving Game 4, most sports fans unable to imagine anyone not watching such an exciting game -- let alone one of the competitors. But it's just like the wife, who couldn't understand why Jeffrey Dahmer ate people, having to be reminded she could never think like Dahmer." -- 10.22.09, T.J. Simers, LA Times

5 Years Ago Tonight

JD_10.20_gett.jpg
(Getty Images File)

The Sox Got World Serious in the Bronx
And Brought Down the House That Ruth Built

The Real Championship Was Won When Johnny Damon Broke the Back of the New York Yankees in Game 7 to Complete the Greatest Comeback in Baseball History
Boston 10, New York 3: Damon Grand Slam, 2-Run HR; D-Lowe One Hit Ball
Sox Watched 'Miracle on Ice' Before Game, D-Lowe Talked to Jim Craig
That Little Romp Over the Cardinals Was Just Icing on the Cake
Even Pedro and Schill Played Grab-Ass After the Shock Heard 'Round the World

Pedro and Schill
(Barry Chin / Globe File)

Chad Finn: Happy Anniversary


Spitgate Update

Debunking the Debunked Inconclusive Images...
New Photos Confirm What Went Down on the Mound

Boston Dirt Dogs
(Seinfeld Images)

Rivera Remains Cleared of All Wrongdoing,
But Keep Your Eye on Him Anyway...

Enter Spitman

More Cheating from Bronx Bombers?
Rivera Spits Before Pitch

Will Mariano Be Banned from the Game? Out of the Hall of Fame?
And Is Papelbon Now the Greatest Closer Ever?
Update: MLB Reviews the Tapes and Clears Yankee Closer
(We're Sure Yankee Bob Watson Was Involved with That One)
This Just In: Balloon Boy's Father Insists Mo's Spit Ball Was No Hoax

Grady Girardi

Manager Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees looks on during the Nation Anthem prior to the start of Game Three of the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 19, 2009 in Anaheim, California.
(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

A Manager's Trip to the Mound Trips Up the
George Steinbrenner Traveling All-Stars

Anaheim 5, New York 4 | Angels Outlast Yankees
And Now the Angels Think They're Back in the Series
Good Thing Johnny Was All Done After the 2005 Season...
Too Bad the Sox Can't Find Bench Players Like Howie Kendrick
That's Just Bobby Abreu Being Manny on the Basepaths
Why Are We Subjected to Scott Boras (and Pat Sajak) Behind the Plate?
NY Post: What the Hell? | Lupica: Girardi Manages to Give One Away
This Just In: Manny Ramirez a Non-Factor for the Dodgers

It's just different kind of stuff against those hitters. We have all the matchups and all the scouting reports and we felt [Aceves] was a better matchup for us." -- Joe Girardi... will be on the hook if NY blows the series

Angels in Harlem

BDD - NYY Globetrotters
(BDD Photo Illustration)

Globetrotters Grab Games 1 and 2 as the Quest for a
Store-Bought Championship Continues for New York

Saturday: Globetrotters 4, Washington Generals 3
Generals Throw It Away
Friday: Globetrotters 4, Washington Generals 1
Meadowlark Lemon Hits Everything for Eight Innings
Curly Neal, Goose Tatum, and Sweet Lou Dunbar Take Care of Offense
More Good Ideas from MLB: Schedule Too Many Meaningless Summer Games
So You Can Play the Most Important Ones in Winter Conditions

Why Can't We Get Pedros Like That?

Pedro Martinez reacts after getting Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp to fly out and end the sixth inning of Game 2 of the National League Championship baseball series Friday, Oct. 16, 2009, in Los Angeles.
(AP)

Phillies Got a Pedey Like It's 1999
Martinez Dominates Manny, Dodgers

Dodgers-Phillies Box
Pedro Comes Out, 5 Pitchers Blow the Phillies Win
Ut-Oh, Pedro Win By the Boards After Chase Utley Air Mailer Brings in Run
Martinez No-Hitter Broken Up in Third Inning, But He Still Completely Owns Manny
Never Take Pedro Out of a Playoff Game. Sincerely Grady Little
Theo Went Re-tread Shopping, and All We Got Was the
Shell of John "I Love Pitching in St. Louis But Loved Boston's Contract" Smoltz
Speaking of Bob Lobel, Catch Him on Sports Legends New England
Saturday at 6 p.m. on MyTV New England

Balloon Boy Part 2?

In this image rendered from video and released by KMGH-TV in Denver, a hot-air balloon is seen over Colorado, near Fort Collins. Larimer County sheriff's spokeswoman Eloise Campanella says the device, which is shaped like a flying saucer, has the potential to rise to 10,000 feet.
(BDD Photo Illustration)

No, It's Just Theo Launching the Annual Search for
The Next Great Red Sox Shortstop

... It's Been Whichever Way the Wind Blows Since Nomar Left Town

Pedro! Manny! Johnny!

New York Yankees Johnny Damon protects himself from the rain during practice at Yankee Stadium in New York, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. The Yankees will play the Los Angeles Angels in Game 1 of the American League Championship baseball series starting on Friday.
(Getty and AP Images)

... It's Great to Be Watching the Sox in the Playoffs!
... Oh, Wait a Minute

Old Friends Pedro and Manny Set to Square Off in LA
Johnny-Could-Come-Back and the Yankees Host Anaheim at 8

Blame Cake is Done

BDD -- 2009 Blame Cake
(BDD Photo Illustration)

Just Add the Finger-Pointing Frosting ...


BDD - Blame Cake Frosting
(BDD Photo Illustration)

And Grab a Piece ...

John Henry and His Big Brass Band... need deeper pockets and less Pocket Money (see Teixeira, Mark and say goodbye to the pennant), NASCAR, boats, weddings at Fenway, real estate, doing voiceovers for commercials, and allowing most tickets to wind up on their aftermarket at 400 percent markups to fans. Oh and they've created a corporate canned environment at Fenway where we saw the smallest standing room crowd in years for Game 3, and the bigwigs in the seats are so bored they can barely muster up the energy to chant "Let's Go Red Sox" until the fat lady starts singing. And after the debacle of making the players wear Hanging Sox Hats, they really need to consider cashing out and selling the team, because they've completely sold out.

In Theo We Bust... As the GM continues to morph into Dan Duquette, the Sox are suddenly looking like an old Dan Duquette team. The revolving door at shortstop continues to haunt the franchise. Yes, $103 million forked over for Matsuzaka could have been better spent, same for Drew. Bay is no Manny, sorry. Caught sleeping at the wheel with new 'Tek deal. Major misread on John Smoltz (see Gagne, Eric), and Julio Lugo and his sunk cost were shipped out of Boston a day too soon. Good thing he doesn't let the fans influence him... except when it comes to overpaying for Mike Lowell.

A Testy David Ortiz... If you thought his early season performance sunk the Sox from the get-go, it was nothing compared to the shameful, 10-days-too-late, lame vitamins-and-supplements press conference in Yankee Stadium with a disheveled Michael Weiner by his side. But his real "careless" crime was letting some sketch slap his name on a bad Framingham restaurant in his quest not to leave one marketing dollar on the table.

Captain Feels the Crunch... We won't be fooled again... but if you're Theo Epstein, you were fooled again by Scott Boras and Jason Varitek (remember when he wanted a Posada contract?). What will we do without his annual clutch hit and empty cliches.... errr leadership... after every game? How will Josh Beckett manage to implode without him? And can we put the 'C' in a time capsule, never to be worn externally by anyone ever?

Jon Papelbon, a.k.a. Trade Bait... When you only pitch 60 innings in a season, you've got to be ready to go in October, not ready to go home. The Idiots act was natural, Paps' on camera performances seem forced. Cinco Ocho? Who gives themselves a nickname? And is he still focused on breaking the bank for closers based on that phony save stat? Daniel Bard, the real Nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Josh Bad Boy Beckett... Just didn't locate his pitches... just didn't execute tonight.... ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz..... enough. Something's wrong here. The staff "ace" just isn't one of the elite starters in baseball anymore. Can we re-do the Hanley Ramirez trade now?

Daisuke Matsuzaka... is just laughing his ass off all the way to the bank. And it's our dime. But he'll be ready for the next time... Team Japan calls his name.

Globe: Now is the Fall of Our Discontent | Eric Wilbur: Group Therapy
Danny Picard: Moving Boston Forward
Survey: What Should the Sox Do?

Halos and Goodbye

Red Sox vs. Angels, Game 3 ALDS, Fenway Park Sox Dustin Pedroia heads for the dugout after making the last out of a 7-6 loss to the Angels. The Angels won the ALDS with a ninth inning rally.
(Stan Grossfield / Globe Staff)

The Angels Are Shipping Up to the ALCS
While the Sox Just Keep Slipping

Mazz: Are Sox on the Slide? | Updates from Fenway Goodbye on Monday


Ghost in the Machine

Calvin Schiraldi and Jonathan Papelbon
(Jim Davis / Globe Staff | Boston Globe File)

Stinko Ocho Channels Schiraldi at Fenway

Papelblown, Papelbum, Papelgone Baby Gone
Pride and Broom for Angels | Rally Chimps 7, Really Chumps 6
In the End, We Could Have Used Daniel Bard's 2 No-Hit Innings
Was That Schiraldi's Ghost Exiting Through the Open Door in Center Field?
Papelbon Not Ready for Prime Time (Why?)... But He's Still Got a Show on Cable
Aren't You Vlad Tito Decided to Walk the Not-So-Dangerous Torii Hunter?
No Worries for John Henry... He's Got 11 Other Businesses to Focus On
Maybe Theo Just Needs a Bigger Budget with More Sunk Cost Money to Spend...
At Least David Ortiz Will Stop Yapping About How Great His Season Turned Out
Jason Bay Is a Nice Little Player, But Is He The Guy to Break the Bank On?
Really Jon Lester? You Were Surprised By the Booing of Papelbon? Really?
This Just In... Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez... Still Playin'
Party Like It's 1995: Mo Vaughn, Jose Canseco, Meet David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis
We'll Give Youk a Mulligan... Because He'll Probably Freak Out If We Don't
New at 11: Boring Team with No Identity Starts Winter Early
Seriously Tito? Jed Lowrie with the Season on the Line?
Bright Side: Just 4 Months Until Truck Day!


BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons
(BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons)

BDD -- Jonathan Nathan
(BDD Photo Illustration / Jonathan Nathan)

Anaheimlich Maneuver
The Boston Red Sox lost Game 2 to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium
(Globe, Getty, and Wire Photos)

Sox Are Left Toast. 7th Heaven for Halos

Down Town | Not Your Father's Angels 4 Wild Card Champions 1
So Much for the Ace in the Hole, Beckett Can't Get Out of 7th
At Least He's Getting Beat By the Erick Aybars of the World
This Is Just Nuts Being Up 2-0. Sincerely, Torii Hunter
And That's 4 More Hits For the Home Team In Case You Lost Count
Robbie Wants to Cano... Whatever Happened to Dustin Pedroia?
Is David .000rtiz Still Asking Around For Apologies Because He Can Still Do It?
Postseason Memories... We'll Always Have That Victor Martinez RBI
Jason Bay... The Price Goes Down Every Day. Sincerely, Matt Holliday
So When Does Lopez Live Come On? Frank TV Wants to Know ...
This Just In: Twins Robbed By Blind Ump in Bronx
Mike L.000well Checking In ... J.D. Who?
Blame It On Pizzuti

"We want it. I mean, I can't say we want it more than those guys, but we definitely want it. I'm pretty sure they want it, too. It's just not working out for them. We've just got to keep putting the pressure on them and stay hungry. You've got to kick somebody when they're down, and that's what we're doing." -- Angels outfielder Torii Hunter playing the role of Kevin Millar


BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons
(BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons)

Orange County Registers ...

A fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim holds a sign in support during Game Two of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 9, 2009 in Anaheim, California.
(Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty Images)

Not In Our Bandbox!


Fan-ning the Flames ...

A fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim holds up a sign for the rally monkey during Game Two of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium on October 9, 2009 in Anaheim, California. The Angels won the game 4-1.
(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Only Chumps Get Beat By Chimps


Fred Flintstone Was Rockin' The House
That Thundersticks Built

A fan holds a sign before the MLB American League Division Series playoff baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Boston Red Sox in Anaheim, California October 9, 2009
(Reuters)

Just What We Need, A Team Out to Break a Curse
And Nice Job As Always on the Noon Start Time Tomorrow MLB

Torii Spelling Trouble for Lester, Sox

Torii Hunter of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrates with teammates after hitting a three-run home run as starting pitcher Jon Lester #31 and catcher Victor Martinez #41 of the Boston Red Sox look on in the fifth inning of Game One of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium
(Jim Davis / Boston Globe Staff)

Sox Drop Game 1, Offense Horrific

Anaheim 5, Boston Zero | Lester Not All That Impressive
If You're Still Counting, That Was 4 Singles for Your Wild Card Champions
Good Thing Theo Epstein Doesn't Care About RBIs At All... Whew....
Can We Get the Always Angry Kevin Youkilis Back?
So Goes Jacoby, So Go the Sox... Nowhere
Can't Get No Relief: Hey Ramon Ramirez... You're Not in Kansas City Anymore
Is David Ortiz Taking All his Vitamins and Supplements?
Adding Insults to Injury: Getting Shut Down by Really Old Friend Darren Oliver
And Having to Look at Scott Boras's Godawful Mug Behind the Plate
No Show City: And Whatever Happened to Red Sox Nation West Coast?
And the Angels 10th Player Award Goes to... CB Bucknor
We're Not Feeling Well After Tonight Either, Tito
Nice to See 3 Errors to Boot

"Four singles and three errors isn't going to win too many ballgames, so you tip your hat a little bit. But I think we can be better." -- Jason Bay... making us confident for Game 2... sort of...


Can You CB Now?

BDD_blind-bucknor_DG.jpg
(BDD Photo Illustration / Dario Guzman)

Three Things You Can Count On

Red Sox manager Terry Francona (left) walks through the outfield during today's workout, while the man he is pinning his postseason hopes on, Game One starting pitcher Jon Lester (right) shags during bating practice.
(Jim Davis / Boston Globe Staff)

Death, Taxes, and the Sox Beating Up
On the Angels in the Postseason

Here We Go Red Sox, Here We Go
Extra Bases: Updates from Anaheim
Survey Gallery: Sox, Angels Position-by-Position Breakdown
Interactive: Comparing the 4 AL Playoff Teams Any Way You Want
Mazz Breaks Down the 4 AL Pennant Contenders
Youk Is Still Learning to Chill Out and Be Cool Like Fonzie
ALDS Prediction Roundup | Sox Photos From Today's Workout
Globe 10.0: Sox in Angels' Heads? | Twins Run Out of Gas in the Bronx


BDD -- Frank Galasso illustrations

BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons
(BDD / James MacLeod Cartoons)

Will 'Tek Keep Hanging On After October?

Angels Before Demons

Mike Napoli is congratulated as he enters the dugout after hitting a home run off Oakland Athletics' Jerry Blevins during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009, in Oakland, Calif.
(AP)

By Bob Ekstrom, BDD contributor: Back in elementary school, there was this kid named John who always wore a knit hat pulled down around his eyes. It irked me to the point where I finally swiped it off his head one day and wore it for my own. It felt warm, so I took it again the next day and for many thereafter, keeping it a little longer each time. It got so that I didn't need a hat of my own because Johnny's was there for the taking, day after day.

I see a little of Johnny in the Los Angeles Angels. Whenever they cross paths with the Red Sox, Boston swipes their hat. It's been going on for a generation. The Sox have won 13 of their 17 postseason games against the Halos, including 12 of the last 13. And they've been the kind of victories that awaken within us a childlike lust for the dramatic. Hell, there was a time you couldn't toss a beer at me without my reflexive call: The 2-2 pitch to Henderson on its way . . .

Like Johnny's hat, the Angels are there for the taking, year after year. But here's the thing: the good times eventually end. After about a week, Johnny's eyes grew wide one day and he popped me right in the kisser, leaving me with cold ears and a fat lip for the rest of recess. The Angels had those same eyes back in September after Brian Fuentes served up that phantom ball four to help the Sox swipe another win. If there was ever a year for them to pop the Sox in the kisser, this might be it.

Sure, you can argue that - while the Sox have gotten better with a healthy Lowell and a catcher who can hit, not to mention the even/odd year issue falling in Beckett's favor - the Angels haven't improved much since last October. This is no disservice to Kendry Morales, who is replacing Mark Teixeira after all. Sox-killing Scott Kazmir is a slight plus over Jon Garland, but Bobby Abreu is a break-even for Garret Anderson and Fuentes is no K-Rod close and late.

Then, too, there's that 12-of-13 thing going for Boston. Hey, if the Angels managed only one win last postseason after beating the Sox eight times during the regular season, what shot do they have this year? That logic is, of course, distinctly New England. We have a stubborn faith in the power of past performance. In some instances that have been known to last 86 years, we surrender to its inevitability; but in others, we laud its harvest until the day it eventually pops us in the kisser.

Let's look at it another way. Put aside the rosters and historical trends for a minute and consider what our eyes tell us. Mine see this Red Sox team as a Jaguar, something in the XJ series. It looks great in the driveway, but once you get it on the open road you're never really sure it's going to get you to where you need to go.

Numerous times this season Tito & Co. had their foot on the accelerator -- remember Beckett taking the mound in the rubber game against the Yankees in August, or that 10-1 stretch going into Kansas City where they put up six runs early? - but each time they stalled. Then, over the last ten games of the season when we entrusted them to simply keep their baseball psyche oiled for the postseason, they let up on the gas and backed into a spot.

OK, lame duck tailspins are neither unusual nor necessarily fatal. In 2000, the Yankees finished 3-15 - including a season-ending seven-game losing streak - yet still won the World Series. So, too, did the 2005 White Sox despite a 22-26 stretch after building a 15-game lead. The next year, the Tigers lost 31 of their last 50 games, capped by a five-game losing streak that saw them settle for the Wild Card on the final day, yet they still made it to the Series.

The one difference worth noting is that these teams first established themselves as the cream of their seasons, whereas the Red Sox never did. Nor did the aforementioned group struggle with fellow postseason invitees the way these Sox have with the Yankees. Which brings us to the elephant in living rooms across Red Sox Nation leading into the postseason: our boys no longer believe they can beat the Evil Empire. And for good reason.

Consider this tale of two seasons within one. The Sox started out 8-0 against New York before the All-Star Break, then lost nine of the last ten. Boston hit .287 with 13 homers on the front eight, .226 with 11 homers on the back ten. Yankee starters' ERA against the Sox dropped from 6.81 to 3.71, and relievers' from 5.10 to 3.94, after crossing the break.

So, too, did Yankee bats come alive during the summer. As a team, their average against Boston increased from a first-half .268 to a second-half .326, and run production from 3.9 to 7.0 per game. The Bombers had managed only ten home runs in the first eight games, but hit 21 in the last ten off a Sox staff that at times looked as enigmatic as my son's batting tee swaying in a faint summer breeze.

I'd certainly welcome a long winter in New York -- it would give Hal & Hank time to install more Purell dispensers before Yankee Fan begins another season of embracing A-Rod - but it isn't going to happen. The Yankees will be waiting in the ALCS, but the Sox can't look that far just yet lest the Left Coasters drop a Kanye on their moment in America's spotlight.

It's got to be first things first. We've got the Angels' attention and we'll get their game. That leaves only one thing. Let's get their damn knit hat.

ALDS Quiz: Test Your Sox-Angels History Knowledge
Chad Finn: 5 Things To Know About the Angels
Photos: Sox Depart for Anaheim
Graphic: Look Back at 2009

No. 162... Boston 12, Cleveland Rocks Bottom 7 | Lester, Beckett New 1-2 Punch
And Ortiz Falls Shy of 30/100; J.D. 2 HR Almost Hit .280 in '09
Buchholz Making Matsuzaka Look Like No. 3
Saturday Night: Boston 11, Cleveland 6 | Which Beckett Will We See in Anaheim?
V-Slam, B-And, Dustin, Dusty Homer

Benchtime for Gonzo?
Alex Gonzalez (3) leaves the game in the 8th inning after being struck by a pitch.
(Barry Chin / Boston Globe Staff)

Are the Sox About to Begin Their World Series Drive
with Chris Woodward at Short?

Update: Additional X-Rays on Gonzalez Negative, No Fracture
Alex Gonzalez Hit By Pitch, "Line" in the Hand, More X-Rays Today
No Long-Term Solution at Short: Green Has Disk/Nerve Issue,
And the .145 Hitting Jed Lowrie's Left Wrist Problems Linger
More Walking Wounded: J.D. O.P.S. Gets C.O.R.T.I.S.O.N.E. Shot in Shoulder
Baldelli Naturally Strains Left Hip Flexor as Fill-in, Hello Josh Reddick
Boston 6, Tribe 2 | Dice Progressing Nicely
Heart of the Order Stays Hot
Yep, Varitek Got a Hit

"Itís a little bit of a conundrum. Thereís a lot to think about... Thereís some decisions we need to make." -- Terry Francona on getting stuck at short for the postseason. Good thing Theo couldn't wait to unload the productive Julio Lugo for a bag of balls and a rosin bag

Breaking News
from Boston

Jon Lester blows a big bubble in the dugout as he enjoys a comfortable lead in the 5th inning, with the Sox ahead, 3-0 and only giving up 1 hit.
(John Tlumacki / Boston Globe Staff)

Sox Win. Lester Ends Six Game Skid

Losing Streak Over | The A-Team 3, You're Fired! 0
It's the Indians Who Don't Have a Leg to Stand On
Ellsbury Creates the Winning Run in the First, Ortiz, J-Bay Add Insurance RBIs
V-Mart Hitting Streak Would Be at 28 Games Without NY Pinch At-Bat
Toronto 12, Seriously? 0 | Sox Drop 6th Straight Using Just 2 Starters, Bench Warmers Good For Just 3 Hits, A Catcher Pitches, and 37,246 Paid Real Big Money to See It

BDD is a feature of Boston.com. All posts are by Steve Silva unless otherwise indicated.

Boston Globe:

Red Sox end losing streak > Shaughnessy: Debunking myths about the 2014 Red Sox > Cherington: Everyone needs to get better

Boston Herald:

Ortiz, Red Sox bats break out to end losing streak > Buchholz still bewildered > Memory loss haunting Red Sox

ProJo:

Lester was once a good hitter, now heading toward dubious record > Travis Shaw brings hot bat to Pawtucket > Ranaudo shines > Betts not a candidate for Boston, yet

NY Post:

St. Louis lets Ozzie Smith bid Jeter goodbye > Yanks prevail in extras again > Nonsense leads off in MLB broadcasts > Beltran elbow on mend

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