Sox to beat teams this year

by Beacon Staff • April 5, 2006

These are the words of character Tyler Durden in the book and movie Fight Club. In that story, there exists an underground venue for men who want to fight.,"The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club."

These are the words of character Tyler Durden in the book and movie Fight Club. In that story, there exists an underground venue for men who want to fight.

For the Boston Red Sox, no such luxury exists.

Pitchers Julian Tavarez and Josh Beckett have already discovered the Boston media microscope, focusing on what they do on and off the field.

Traditionally, any time there is a fight during a baseball game, it gets lots of attention, like in 2004 when Jason Varitek shoved his glove into Alex Rodriguez's face, which resulted in a bench-clearing affair.

Or a year before that, when Roger Clemens threw a high fastball to Manny Ramirez, which Ramirez took too seriously and then charged Clemens.

Little did I know that was the beginning of a new approach to Red Sox baseball-if you can't beat 'em, beat 'em.

Although Beckett's was more or less a hissy fit when he and Ryan Howard of Philadelphia exchanged words, Tavarez's act was a brawl.

Tavarez accidentally stepped on Tampa Bay's Joey Gathrightwhen tagging him out between first and second.

Gathright pushed Tavarez on the knee to get him off his forearm and Tavarez leveled him.

Theo Epstein knew what he was getting into with a relief pitcher like that. Tavarez is not John Rocker yet, but he's the next in the line of crazy pitchers.

With all the action and fights that have taken place this spring in Fort Meyers, it is clear the era of the idiots has passed and a new group of players are stepping in. Essentially, the idiots have left the Hub.

The Red Sox are no longer a group of guys who belong in Animal House. Millar, Damon, Mueller and Pedro are all gone. The clubhouse no longer has its light atmosphere because the team itself has changed.

For starters, the Sox will no longer have the offensive power they had in the past couple of seasons. Second baseman Mark Loretta, third baseman Mike Lowell, centerfielder Coco Crisp and shortstop Alex Gonzalez are defensive upgrades from the previous players at those positions but are not as good offensively.

The team's pitching and defense, however, will win more games.

It might be a weird concept in Boston, but defense does win championships. It's not the "get two guys on base and hope for a home run" style of play that was practiced by former Sox players like Troy O'Leary and Carl Everett.

They'll play small ball by generating runs through sacrifice bunts (yes, the dreaded B word), walks, singles and doubles. Well, except for Manny and Ortiz.

However, the rest of the squad probably won't hit 35 to 40 homers with more than 120 RBIs.

This is just a warning to anyone who expects the Sox to have the best offense ever assembled. The players are not going to do that. They're going to play a style of baseball that is not vintage Sox. They're going to be smart and fight more.

Most importantly, however, they're going to treat baseball like so many professionals do, like a business.

They will be businessmen going to work, that's all.

They will still want to win and will continue to care for the organization, but they will be intelligent and money ball about it.

I just hope the next fight I see results in a baseball game.