Deja Vu or A Whole New Ball Game?
If you compare the standing as they exists today as compared to those of a year ago (both June 16) you notice some worrisome details. The Yankers, although they are in third now as opposed to second last year, they were nine games back a year ago today as opposed to five games we have on them now. The distance between the Red Sox and the third place team last June was greater than the current difference between the Sox and the last place team. Everything is tighter. Every game matters a bit more at this point.
As it does in many seasons, a lot will depend on what is done by the trading deadline. Rumors abound about possible moves. Will Ken Griffey go to the Rays? Will the Yankees try to get Sabathia? Will Kevin Millar get rid of his blond locks? (Just kidding!) Last years most noteworthy trade in the AL East was arguably Eric Gagne coming to the Sox. We all still have the bad taste in our mouth from that fiasco, the same bitter flavor the Brewers are currently trying to Listerine away. Theo undoubtedly has some thoughts as to what he'd like to do before that drop-dead date, but this year is seems like the biggest news could come from farther down the eastern seaboard.
Regardless of how the details play out, I'm betting that by September we Sox fans are waiting until the end of the month to clinch and that we have the Yankees directly behind us. All this is assuming that the Red Sox can play to the level they've been reaching thus far. The cushion this year is thinner all around the board.