Last year at about this time, the Red Sox were floundering. Lowe and Wakefield were pitching BP and Foulke had blown 3 out of his last 4 save chances. Pedro and Schilling were carrying the team from the mound, Manny and Papi supplying most of the offense. Then the Yankees came to town, Tek put A-Rod in his place, Mueller finished that particular game with a walk-off, Theo made some brilliant moves before the deadline, and the Sox won the World Series.

Fast-forward 12 months. The Sox are clinging to a one-game lead in the division. The bullpen is in complete shambles. And the Yankees are in town with the trading deadline 15 days away. And I have to ask the question; do you believe?

I believe. Last year taught me a lot about team loyalty. Will I criticize players for screwing up or not playing to their potential? Yes. Will I gripe about lineups and pitching changes and losses? Absolutely. But do I think this team has a core of players, that with a few strokes of Theo’s brush, can become a championship contender? How could I think otherwise.

The team is in first place without Schilling, without an effective Keith Foulke, with a shortstop who has underachieved for the first half of the season, and essentially without a first baseman. The farm system at all levels is filthy with talent that is on the verge of moving up, and Theo is still Theo. Trying not to sound too cliche, the future, both short term and long term, is bright.

The next two weeks are going to set the stage for a very entertaining late season. Trades will be made and rookies will join the big club. And the team will get better and go deep into the playoffs. I may be cannonballing grain alcohol tonight if the Yankees take the series. I may have a few choice words for players and managers. But in 2005, I still believe. Do you?