We’re down to the last series of the season and it couldn’t be better for the Red Sox. Why? Because they’re playing the Orioles. Why does it count so much? Three very good reasons.
The first reason is obvious. Beating up on the Orioles with the As in hot pursuit will ensure AL home field advantage. If they can leverage home field advantage and win to get to the World Series they’ve got the automatic home field advantage due to the totally stupid and arbitrary Selig All-Star game rule that literally hands home field advantage to the winning league.
The American League won the All-Star game so the American League gets home field advantage. Really? You play 162 games for this? To be fair, no one in the National League has a better record than the AL leaders save for Detroit. A dumb publicity stunt intended to inject excitement where there is none is derailing me. If I were a player on a team in the other league that lost home field advantage due to the outcome of an exhibition game I’d be pissed. Actually, I’m pissed just writing about it. Let’s move on.
Boston beating the Orioles is important for three reasons:
1. Home field advantage
There’s a lot of speculation about home field advantage actually being an advantage. I’m in the it’s definitely an advantage camp. Any time you get a chance in a potentially short series to deliver a knockout punch in a ballpark that’s designed to optimize your team skills while packed with your peeps, it’s a good thing.
2. Psychological advantage
Clinching early and taking your foot off the gas can make you lose your edge. Boston has showed no signs of putting their feet up on the hassock and eating potato chips down the stretch. Their work ethic is keeping them sharp and battle hardened, a good thing when it comes to getting in the cage with teams that have been scrapping up to the very end of the season.
3. Payback’s a bitch
Since the end of the 2011 season when the Orioles peed in their playoff punch bowl and spoiled Boston’s season on through the 2012 season when they owned the Sox and seemingly won every tight game they played, this year is has been a psychological reset for both teams. Except for the end of 2011 season and the 2012 season, Boston has been very good for a very long time. Baltimore has been good for a season and still couldn’t get to the promised land last year. This year they’re back in the middle of the pack. For Boston, winning this series would be the payback cherry on top.
Don’t look now. The playoffs are right around the corner and the Sox appear to be sharpening their sights. This is why we watch.