It’s important for Red Sox to finish firstYou read it here first, folks!
While it may be unsporting to mock a columnist for writing something like that, it should be noted that Shank does a pretty good job of explaining the scenarios faced by the Red Sox in the upcoming weeks, best noted in the following paragraphs:
Finishing ahead of Oakland matters, and not simply because of home field. It matters because the team with the best overall record is going to play a frazzled, tired, pitching-depleted opponent in a best-of-five series starting at home a week from Friday. For the Sox, it means staying home and playing a best-of-five against the Rays, Indians, or Rangers. More important, it means not playing a first-round series against the Detroit Tigers.Throw in a comparison to the Patriots playoff runs, and it's a wrap.
The difference is enormous. There are no sure things in playoff competition, but your goal is to put yourself in the best position to advance. If the Sox play the Rays, Indians, or Rangers, they should advance; they will be playing a team that struggles through the final weekend to get into a wild-card game, uses one of its best pitchers to win a wild-card game on Wednesday, then travels to Boston to open a best-of-five at Fenway. The Sox went 6-1 against the Indians this year. They went 12-7 against Tampa Bay. They went 2-4 against Texas, but in September of 2013 the Rangers have looked a little like the Red Sox of September 2011.