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Trying times for Sox fans

There are worse things than having a seven-game lead in late July, but the Sox have looked quite lifeless of late. I had an SRO seat on the Monster last Sunday for the 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays, and Boston's inability to muster more runs then (or last night, or on any number of other recent occasions) indicates a severely alarming bout of offensive anemia.

As I recently wrote, the current roster will have to start hitting better for the Sox to go deep into the post-season (and we'll see how Big Schill does tomorrow at McCoy). While Manny and Papi have the ability to turn it on, J.D. Drew is very much resembling an overpaid albatross.

Various observers have cited how the Sox lack drama this year; they'll hold a lead late in a game, but they don't seem capable of coming back from a deficit.

Then again, as Sean McAdam pointed out this week, a lot of world champions have suffered from a bout of doldrums on the way to the crown (and certainly, a lot of people didn't expect the Sox of mid-summer 2004 to do much of anything) 

To be sure, such struggles are hardly unprecedented for successful teams. In fact, each of the last four world champions — the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals, 2005 Chicago White Sox, 2004 Red Sox and 2003 Florida Marlins — all suffered through portions of their respective seasons in which they lost more than they won for 40 or more games. Blame parity, the ever-increasing role of injuries and poor depth for those exaggerated slumps.

In that respect, these Red Sox are already showing championship form, having gone 20-23 in their last 43 games, slightly more than one-quarter of the schedule.

What does all this mean? The Sox better shape up, and fast. For now, I'll just tip my cap, Pedro-style, to all my Yankee friends (you know who you are, Linda Brosco, Peter Asen, Tom Connell, Joe Vileno, Jay Langholz, Bill Guglietta, Dan Yorke, John Lombardi, Mike Montecalvo, etc.) Welcome to the pennant race, and enjoy it while you can.

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