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O, what a disaster

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  May 3, 2010 09:59 AM

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Look at it this way: The Red Sox made tonight's three-way viewing conflict a whole lot easier.

While the Bruins look to take a 2-0 series lead over the Flyers, the Celtics hope to tie their semi-final series against Cleveland at one, lest be placed in the insurmountable 2-0 hole against LeBron James and his referees. Both games, in addition to tonight's Angels-Red Sox tilt will played during the same hours, (Celtics begin an hour later at 8), which means there probably isn't room for everybody in your living room. After this weekend, you probably need a break from the Sox anyway.

There are worse things in baseball than getting swept by the Orioles, but...no, actually that's it. Getting swept by the Orioles is the worst thing in baseball. There.

No team has fewer wins than the Orioles (7), and no team has more wins (4) against the team laughably considered among baseball elite prior to the 2010 season. After watching this team for the past 30 days, anyone who thinks they can make a run at the American League East without either making drastic moves or drinking from the Fountain of Youth (provided it is MWRA approved) is driving the optimistic train to la-la land. Run prevention has become a bigger joke than "Where would we play Willie McGee?"

The Angels come to town beginning tonight, followed by the Yankees next weekend, and depending on how things go there, maybe we'll start to see some changes via Theo Epstein. While it's foolhardy to say time is running out with June a full four weeks away, time is sorta running out, isn't it? I mean, you want to sell your home, and only need to paint the trim in order to do so, that's one thing. If the place needs a new roof, a repaired foundation, and a cure for whatever that smell is coming from the kitchen walls, well you'd better get cracking, no?

Boston's run differential now stands at -20. Last season, the Red Sox finished +136. They're actually in the middle of the AL pack when it comes to scoring runs, OPS, and total bases, but the pitching has been horrific. Remember "There's no other 1-5 you'd rather have in the game?" Uh...yeah...

Despite the encouraging signs that Jon Lester and Josh Beckett have come out of their early-season funks...well, welcome back Daisuke Matsuzaka, who did nary a thing Saturday night to ease fears that he'll be a different guy in 2010. Only the White Sox and Royals have worse team ERA's in the AL. Nobody has allowed more than the 134 runs given up by the Sox.

They're too good to be this bad? Maybe. After all, you assemble that kind of pitching staff and mediocre isn't exactly the term you're shooting for. But the Red Sox' futility this season is only half the equation when you mix in the scary starts by both the Rays and Yankees, who are both younger and faster. Thinking the Sox can turn it around is one thing. Thinking they can do against that type of competition something else entirely.

Epstein and Co. can take some level of solace in the fact that the Bruins and Celtics are still on their postseason runs, or else the focus and ire of the fan base would be squarely on Yawkey Way. Perhaps that's a portion of the reason that you can inexplicably find tickets for this week against the Angels for as little as $6 on StubHub - even more surprising, $6 standing room seats for John Lackey's first start against his former club. Still, isn't that telling all the same?

Outside of Darnell McDonald and the Opening Night comeback win against the Yankees, this season has been little more than a depressing drag, and rumors of clubhouse grumbling are already popping up, which should make this Terry Francona's most difficult managing job since landing here in 2004. Don't blame him. Feel free to put some level of blame on the front office for assembling this troupe of boring blunders, but while there have been some questionable in-game moves by the manager recently, ask yourself what he has to work with before going after him.

At this point, the bridge season sure seems a term for the time it will take between the end of the Celtics and Bruins playoff runs, and when Patriots training camp begins. The Sox, meanwhile, can come out of this, but they're simply not as good as their competition. And that, ultimately, will be their downfall.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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