Sep 6, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli (12) has his beard pulled in celebration by Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) after hitting a game-tying grand slam home run during the seventh inning of a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Three Things The Red Sox Need To Do Before Starting the Playoffs

With just 17 games remaining and a 7.5 game lead over the second place Tampa Bay Rays (magic number, 12), the Red Sox are a near certainty to gain a playoff berth and a likely team to be sitting pretty at the end of the regular season. They are currently in a perfect position to leverage a compounding, domino effect of good karma that has been building throughout the year. Here’s what they need to do to keep the balling rolling into the playoffs.

Win The Division
Do this as quickly as possible. Doing so will put a cherry on a worst to first 2013 sundae and will serve notice to the rest of the teams in the playoff hunt that the Red Sox are a dangerous, not to be trifled with team. Taking care of business this week against the Rays and Yankees will get them to the goal line quickly. Winning it all against the odds in the AL Beast will inject a healthy swagger into Boston’s playoff stride. By winning the division early the Sox will be able to…

Rest Your Everyday Players
There are two schools of thought here. Stay battle hardened right up until the end of September and hit the playoffs with grit and spit between your teeth or get your people that require the rest as much R&R as possible while getting them their at bats and playing time to keep them sharp. You know who subscribes to the grit and spit philosophy? The teams who have to struggle right up to the end to get in, that’s who.

Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have benefitted from short layoffs during the season that allowed them to regroup both mentally and physically. Dustin Pedroia could use a blow before he gets down to playoff business. Bring up a few more arms and let your bullpen heal up. Rest before the playoffs is good, period.

Stay Crazy
Keep the facial hair. Keep rubbing Napoli’s beard. Opponents need to fear the beard. Keep smiling behind your glove when you absolutely know you completely lucked out on a play that could have gone either way. Keep jumping into walls and into the stands and into one another’s arms. Yes, you risk injury. You also inspire your teammates and incite your fans to go nuts. Keep breaking the opposition’s will with another last at bat win. Stay crazy my friends.

The scent of October is strong on September 10. Get there quick boys.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox

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