It is the first week of September and the Red Sox hold a sizable lead (6.5 games) in the American League East, but if you think Boston is guaranteed not too collapse, then you weren't really paying attention in 2011.
That was, of course, the year of chicken and beer, a time when clubhouse malfeasance assisted the team in dropping 18 of its final 24 games, blowing a 9.0 game cushion in the wild card standing in the process (this was back when there was just one wild card slot per league) and missing the postseason altogether after that possibility seemed impossible just three weeks earlier.
Many of those faces from that team are gone though and it is a full two seasons later. So, it would be patently unfair to expect a steep September decline from this 2013 group of player based on their previous cohorts tainted efforts.
Nonetheless, what does John Farrell have to do to ensure the Red Sox do not experience a significant final month slide?
Lou Merloni feels Boston's first-year manager must take care of health first and foremost.
"His biggest goal now is to just maintain, he's got some guys that are nicked up a little bit," Merloni said. "And if it's keeping David Ortiz healthy, Jacoby Ellsbury sits tonight, you've got a guy in Johnny Gomes who still performs for you so are you really losing something? Yes, defensively. But if it means keeping Jacoby Ellsbury healthy than I'm going to do it."
Playing caution to the wind is usually a good idea, but too much conservatism can come back to bite a manager right where they don't want it.
Does Merloni have that concern when it comes to the mild-mannered Farrell?
"I don't see them taking the foot off the gas one bit at all," Merloni said. "He's been managing with urgency from day one and I'm not so sure it ends."