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Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff  September 8, 2008 01:11 PM

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This is why people who fixate on one sport to the exclusion of all others confound me.

Tom Brady is down. It is very bad for him, and it is basically disastrous for the Patriots, who clearly aren't going to any Super Bowl without him and whose only reasonable goal now is to play one (1) game in January.

And here come the Tampa Bay Rays. In Boston, sporting life goes on.

I'm not ridiculing or downplaying the Patriots, but let's not lose sight of the fact that it's still early September and the leaves haven't even thought of changing yet. Football is the intruder here. It is still very much baseball season, and the Red Sox have their biggest series of the season taking place right now. We don't need football 24/7 to keep us occupied.

The Red Sox are playing their best baseball of the season. They took two out of three in Texas, which means they've won their last six series. That's how you make progress and establish yourself in baseball. It is not necessary to win 15 in a row. Just keep on winning series after series. 12-5 is not glamorous, but it's solid. Put three 12-5s together, play a little above .500 ball the rest of the time, and you're on your way to winning in the mid-90s, which is where the Red Sox are heading as they march toward the postseason.

Right now, how prescient does Theo look? Jason Bay has driven in 30 runs and scored 32 in 32 games since Theo was forced to find a home for the unhappy Manny Ramirez. And how about Paul Byrd? He is 4-1 as a Sox starter and is coming off a sensational performance in Texas, pitching three-hit shutout ball over 6 2/3 innings in his last start.

The work of their own farm products has been off the charts. Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jed Lowrie, Manny Delcarmen, and Justin Masterson represent a truly stupendous haul. Contrast that to the Yankees, whose last quality in-house starter was Andy Pettitte (1995) and who have had one fairly decent position player (Robinson Cano) come through the ranks since Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, who emerged onto the big league scene for good in 1996 and 1997, respectively. Now they have Joba Chamberlain and the other kid pitchers such as Philip Hughes and Ian Kennedy, but we'll see how all that turns out.

The Yankees really are going to miss the playoffs, and that should put a little spring in many steps in these here parts.

Meanwhile, the football season isn't over. Yes, it's changed, and there will be no need to book air flights to Tampa for the first Sunday in February. But the Patriots' cupboard isn't bare and the schedule is manageable. The Patriots will still be good. There could be a lot of satisfying moments to come in the Matt Cassel Era. That great throw on third and 11 from his own one-half yard line must have meant something, don't you think?

But even if nothing had happened to Tom Brady and he had thrown for 320 and four TDs on Sunday we still would have this glorious bounty of sports in this town. There's no need to spend all day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday freetting about the Patriots when there's so much intriguing baseball at our disposal. C'mon. What Patriot, Brady included, is more compelling than the feisty little second baseman right now?

The Bruins are opening up soon, and if you cock your ear in the right direction you can hear the faint sound of bouncing basketballs. The Celtics are champions again. Remember?

This is not a happy time for the Patriots. They've got a lot on their minds as they begin a post-Brady life, but while they're working on that, the rest of us can focus on Fenway until 4:15 next Sunday.

Never forget: We've got a sports restaurant in Boston with more than one item on the menu.


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About bob ryan's blog Opinions, observations and anecdotes from Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
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Bob is an award-winning columnist for the Globe and the host of "Globe 10.0" on Boston.com.

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