Think of a baseball season as a game.
There are 162 games in a season; there are nine innings in a game. If you divide 162 by 9, you get 18.
That means, basically, that every 18 games of a season represent one inning of a game. To break it down further, every nine games of a season is a half-inning of a game.
Got that? Good. Now apply it to the Red Sox.
Their 8-5 win over the Yankees last night was their 82nd game this year. Which means that the 2014 season, if it was a game, would have just started the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Sox are 38-44, which isn't good. On the other hand, they're only five games out of first place in the loss column in the A.L. East. They're only six games out in the loss column of the second wild-card spot. Such deficits are inconsequential. They can be erased with a hot week or a good homestand. Take a look at the upcoming schedule: Ten games at home against the Cubs, Orioles and White Sox, followed by three games in Houston. Thirteen games against teams with a combined won-loss record of 151-176, which is a winning percentage of .462.
The potential certainly is there for a good homestand and a hot week; a hot couple of weeks, in fact. When it ends, who knows where they'll be?
And when it ends, no matter what happens, the season/game will be in the top of the sixth inning.
The point of all this is simple. We tend to get too wound up in day-to-day happenings and place (far) too much emphasis on individual games in the early going. Unless a team has fundamental weaknesses that can't be addressed by trade or callup, there's no sense in overreacting to the ups and downs that a team, and a player, go through in the first few months. That's why making sweeping generalizations at this stage of the year is foolish. Foolish? Try idiotic.
Or to look at it through the prism of our game/season:
If you fall behind 4-0 in the fourth inning, would you proclaim you're "pulling the plug" on the game? Would you remove all your starters and put in untested rookies, to give them experience for the next game? Would you make irrevocable, irreversible personnel moves based on that 4-0, fourth-inning deficit?
Then why would you do it for a season?
The Red Sox' 2014 season is, right now, in the bottom of the fifth. They're trailing in the "game" by, what? 3-1, maybe? All right, 4-1 for all you pessimists out there. Not something you can make up with one swing of the bat, but not a deficit that's impossible to erase, either. Not by a long shot.
Keep that in mind when you hear the Chicken Littles screeching.
Here's the rest of your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy and/or interesting tidbits -- for Monday, June 30:
Clayton Kershaw's pretty good, don't you think? (AP)
So are the rest of the Dodgers, who wiped out the Giants' 9 1/2-game lead in 21 days. (Yahoo! Sports)
And they're just having a ball. (NBC's Hardball Talk)
The Giants? Not so much . . . and their swoon has cost Sergio Romo the closer's job. (CSN Bay Area)
Further proof there's no record too obscure for MLB to track: Jose Altuve becomes the first player since Ray Chapman in 1917 to steal multiple bases in four consecutive games. (Hardball Talk)
One person who's impressed by all this is Astros manager Bo Porter, who calls Altuve "the best player in baseball." (CSN Houston)
Old friend Justin Masterson's knee injury is better, and he'll make his scheduled start Tuesday. (Hardball Talk)
But old friend Josh Reddick's bad knee is forcing him to the disabled list. (Hardball Talk)
Rae Rippetoe-Blair, the former UT-San Antonio women's coach who set a school record for career wins with 216 over 13 seasons, is killed in a motorcycle accident in Austin, Tex. She was 52. She had resigned as coach in 2013 to care for her husband Craig, who died that year of Alzheimer's disease at age 51. (AP)
Looks like the band has stopped playing and the musical-chair conference realignment of the last several years is -- finally -- complete. (AP)
Mark your calendars: The Liberty Bowl is moving from Dec. 31 to Dec. 29 this year. (AP)
Texas Tech dismisses freshman defensive back Nigel Bethel II from the team after he allegedly punched a member of the women's basketball team in the face. (NBC's College Football Talk)
Former Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, a fan favorite who played on the 2010 national championship team, is killed in a one-car crash in Georgia at the age of 23. (AP)
And Auburn fans mourn his passing. (College Football Talk)
Justin Rose beats Shawn Stefani in a playoff to win the Quicken Loans National . . . (AP)
. . . but Stefani can console himself in the knowledge that he's now qualified for the British Open. (AP)
There was a playoff on the Seniors Tour, too, and it was won by Bernhard Langer. (AP)
No need for an LPGA playoff: Stacy Lewis fires a final-round 65 and finally wins a tournament in her adopted home state of Arkansas. (AP)
We always figured the Wild would make a serious run at Thomas Vanek. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)
But now it looks like they're after Jarome Iginla, too. (Pro Hockey Talk)
Ryan Miller may wind up in Vancouver. (Pro Hockey Talk)
After 90 minutes as a member of the Lightning, who acquired him from the Oilers, Sam Gagner is traded from Tampa Bay to Arizona. (AP)
James Reimer wants out of Toronto. (Pro Hockey Talk)
So, apparently, The Big Three are negotiating among themselves about how much money they'll all earn, then they'll tell the Heat how much to pay each of them. Somewhere, Red Auerbach's rolling over in his grave. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)
If the Suns have their way, LeBron James will be in Phoenix next year, not Miami. As will 'Melo. (Pro Basketball Talk)
They pay him to play basketball, not to wear a skirt and wave pom-poms, so Derrick Rose has no intention of trying to recruit 'Melo to come play for the Bulls. (Yahoo! Sports)
Ditto James Harden with the Rockets. (CSN Houston)
Meanwhile, the Zen Master continues playing his mind games on Anthony. (Yahoo! Sports)
Whatever 'Melo winds up doing, he plans on doing quickly. (Yahoo! Sports)
And he's giving the Bulls the first shot at wooing him. (CSN Chicago)
Hey, Jason: Power plays are for hockey, not basketball. (Yahoo! Sports)
Unlike many these days, at least Marco Belinelli waited until the Spurs actually won the championship before getting a tattoo commemorating the title. (Pro Basketball Talk)
Aqib Talib may have grounds for a civil lawsuit against the Dallas Police Department for incorrectly announcing he'd been arrested. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)
And he should know: Joe Montana thinks the Seahawks have the makings to be a dynasty. (Pro Football Talk)
If I do say so myself . . . (Pro Football Talk)
Ugly Americans, my foot: The U.S. is becoming a fan favorite around the world. (Yahoo! Sports)
So where does this year rank -- so far -- in the United States' 10 World Cup appearances? (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)
The way Jurgen Klinsmann's now talking, it may wind up right at the very top. (Pro Soccer Talk)
The Americans' next opponent, Belgium, is playing the respect card. (Pro Soccer Talk)
Noted flopper Arjen Robben admits, yeah, he took a dive on a call in the first half -- and "I must apologize . . . I should not be doing that" -- but insists the controversial call that decided the Netherlands-Mexico match was legitimate and that he didn't embellish it. (Yahoo! Sports)
The rest of the world, particularly Mexican coach Miguel Herrera, begs to differ. (AP via Yahoo! Sports)
So when a Dutch airline actually tweaks Mexico on Twitter after the match -- ever take Business 101, guys, where you're taught never to insult potential customers? -- some, like Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, don't take it too kindly. (Pro Soccer Talk)
Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic may -- or may not -- have told his players not to observe Ramadan, the month-long Islamic celebration where followers must fast from sunup to sundown each day. But we'll never know, because he's not saying. (Pro Soccer Talk)
Ghana's unsuccessful World Cup appearance continues to make headlines . . . and not positive ones. (Pro Soccer Talk)