2. Boston sports fans have forgotten how the other half — heck, the other 99 percent — lives.
3. David Ortiz is gone, a baseball ghost who cannot be forgotten in his old haunt.
We can agree on the long-games thing, right? Through April, games were back up over 3 hours and 5 minutes each, after averaging 3:02 last year. That’s remarkable since Clay Buchholz, who pitched with a pace that would make a snail impatient, only made two appearances this year.
Red Sox games seem especially long, no small reason being that Christian Vazquez seems intent on smashing Carlton Fisk’s unofficial single-season record for mound visits, which I believe to be roughly 1,620 set back in 1977. Speed it up, fellas. We’re trying to stay awake over here, and you’ve become the sports equivalent of Tylenol PM.
I recognize that my second reason may rub some of you the wrong way. Too bad, because it’s true. I’m not saying you’re spoiled necessarily. But I will say the success of Boston sports teams since Mo Lewis took out Drew Bledsoe and delivered Tom Brady into our orbit has led to a standard that is sometimes, shall we say, obnoxiously demanding, meaning that we sometimes don’t enjoy good things because we deem them not quite good enough.
There is satisfying fun to be found in certain seasons that aren’t punctuated with a parade, and if you followed to the 2016-17 Celtics with some level of reasonable expectation, you should know this.
Sure, there have been frustrations with the Red Sox so far. Reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello’s sinker sometimes has one heck of an exit velocity. David Price, valuable though he is, continues to flash a personality that might have fit better with that other free agency suitor, St. Louis. The third base situation is a tragicomedy of errors. I couldn’t even tell you what Tyler Thornburg looks like, let alone what’s in his repertoire.
But the Red Sox’ ailments are rich people problems for the most part. Even in a season that has seemed uneven and marked by frustrating fits and starts, they entered Friday night’s opener of an enticing series with the runaway Astros (45-22) with the third-best record in the American League (37-29), and just a two-game disadvantage to the overachieving Yankees in the AL East.
(Yes, overachieving, though I will now concede that behemoth slugger Aaron Judge is indeed something more than his generation’s Kevin Maas or Shane Spencer. Wouldn’t trade Andrew Benintendi for two of him, though.)
The 2017 Red Sox may not be especially flashy, but they’re far better than fine. There are a couple dozen fanbases throughout the majors that envy all of the “boring” Red Sox’ assets, starting with Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts, none of whom is older than 24. There might be four teams in baseball with a pitcher as talented and entertaining as 28-year-old ace Chris Sale. Closer Craig Kimbrel is showing us what unhittable looks like. There’s a lot to like here.
The third reason the Red Sox are perceived as boring is because of the void. Voids, really, and you should know what I mean. It’s not just that the Red Sox miss Ortiz in the heart of their lineup, though they certainly do. They miss him as the heart of everything else, too.
The Red Sox had a ferocious offense in 2016, one that led the major leagues in runs scored (878) by a margin of 101 over the No. 2 team in the AL, the Indians (777). They still have a capable offense — they entered Friday sixth in the AL with 313 runs . But Ortiz is missed, and I remain bewildered that there were some writers who believed his absence could be accounted for in other areas. It seemed a lot to ask for Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez — both north of 30 years old — to remain healthy and highly productive all season. And Betts was so spectacular a season ago that it wasn’t entirely fair to ask him to do it again. Transcendence can’t be duplicated on demand.
But Ortiz is deeply missed in other areas, and not just only in terms of dousing the occasional brushfires in a clubhouse that has had to learn to navigate without him. His charisma is missed, that larger-than-life, bigger-than-the-biggest moments personality. He’s the one who got the hit in 2004, ’07, and ’13, the hit that never came in ’67, ’75, and ’78. He’s everything Mo Vaughn couldn’t quite be. He’s the best thing that ever happened to the Red Sox.
Of course you notice when that’s gone. Such an absence leaves even good things seeming dull.
Chad Finn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.