As Red Sox fans, we understand nothing is won in April. Well, except for games that if won could be the difference between a potential playoff run and a disaster of a season, alas the 2011 Boston Red Sox. We also know crowning a team in April makes no sense, again alas 2011, when many Boston sports media moguls deemed that team the best ever.
Yet we can’t help the hyperbole. This is the most likeable Red Sox team since at least 2009. This team has that feel about it you need to see if you have World Series expectations: the ability to win all types of ball games. They can jump to quick leads and cruise. They can grind pitchers down with their plate discipline and win the game late. They can win in a pitcher’s duel. They can save runs in the field and manufacture them on the base paths. And we have yet to experience the lineup with David Ortiz in the middle of it. I can’t wait.
The Toronto Blue Jays, on the other hand, have begun the season in the opposite direction. The Sox and Jays are not just opposites in the standings so far—they have opposite feels to them, and those feelings began in the offseason.
Where the Sox were expected to have a rebuilding year, the Jays were expected to finally have their breakthrough, their time to shine in the AL east. The Jays made the big offseason splashes; the Sox kept quiet. Whispers of Jays’ players’ discontent with John Farrell leaked out—the Sox hired him. The Jays suddenly had media-induced expectations before they played a single inning together, while the lack of expectations for the Sox aided in the identity already spawned by Pedroia, Ortiz, Lester, Middlebrooks, and even Jackie Bradley, and that identity is a grind-it-out every day, every pitch approach.
In week 1, new Jays’ addition, and supposed ace, R.A. Dickey gave up ten earned runs, six walks and three homers. Melky Cabrera has yet to display the power he possessed at the plate last season (shocker). Jose Reyes has gotten off to a hot start, but he has done that in the past, only to fade over the course of the season or sustain a series of injuries. The Jays have no identity coupled with the expectations of a potential champion. The Red Sox established a clear identity in week 1: win any way you can—the first step to a successful season.