You remember the Red Sox as a comparison for the Giants for different reasons. The template was this:
Step #1: Suffer for several decades
Step #2: Win a World Series
Step #3: Get obnoxious
Step #4: Win another World Series
Step #5: Get even more obnoxious
Oh, hush. You know it's true. You hear the cheers at ballparks around the country. They're not obnoxious to you because those good people are rooting for the empirically correct option. But to the people in their home ballpark? Woof. Obnoxious. The old-timers will remember what it was like to go to a Braves game at Candlestick. It almost wasn't worth going to Braves games. But then you ended up going because where else were you going to get E. coli? Plus, you got to pee in troughs. Troughs.
The Giants are that team now. They're the mid-'90s Braves fans at Candlestick. They're the Red Sox fans at AT&T Park. The last time the Red Sox came to town, the Giants had never won a championship in San Francisco, I made a rare, timely '80s-movie reference and compared Red Sox to Ronald Miller in Can't Buy Me Love. I also wrote this:
The Red Sox used to be cool. Then they got a taste of the good life. And now they’re insufferable. The whole fan base. Insufferable. There’s a sense of entitlement and destiny inherent in everything they do. When the Red Sox last came into San Francisco, the fans tried to overrun Mays Field with their assclownery as if their team was sneezing out championship seasons. Oh, the hubris. They again want to light a bag of poop on our doorstep, even though we used to be cool. You used to be cool, Red Sox. You used to be cool.
You know what's cool, Red Sox? Being insufferable! You were right the whole time!
/gives Red Sox high-five
/flips up collar
/throws on Jimmy Buffett and gets a margarita
But if there's going to be a comparison with the obnoxiousness of the respective fan bases, let's make another, happier comparison at the same time. Last season, the Red Sox were bad. Really bad. They lost 93 games, or three more than the Giants are on pace to lose this season. More impressive than that, though, was how the season ended for the Red Sox. At the deadline, they were two games over .500 and 3½ behind the A's for the second Wild Card. After the deadline they were 16-42. Sixteen. Forty-two. That's 2003 Tigers territory. It would be hard to build a team that bad, no hyperbole. Doesn't matter that they traded Adrian Gonzalez. What a miserable stretch of baseball.
Because the stretch came at the end of the season instead of the beginning, there wasn't a lot of hope for the Red Sox in 2013. They made moves in the offseason, though. Curious, win-now moves, even though they finished the season like the Washington Generals to the rest of the league's Globetrotters.
You see where I'm going with this.
The Red Sox are good again. They're a game up in the AL East with the second-best record in the AL. And it's not like everything's gone right for them, either. Clay Buchholz was supposed to be a key part of the rotation, but he's been injured for a chunk of the year. They closer they acquired to replace their injured closer is injured. And unless you believe that Shane Victorino is suddenly the best fielder in baseball (as UZR and DRS seem to), it's not like their offseason acquisitions are doing that much. Mike Napoli's been okay, and Jonny Gomes and Ryan Dempster have been mostly functional. Stephen Drew's been pretty good.
The pretty good was spread around, though, and combined with good health and a little help from the bench, the Red Sox are contending again. Not going to lie: I'm a little jealous. It's been months -- months! -- since the Giants were contenders, and I'd like them to do it again.
Here's the difference, though. This was an actual lineup fielded by the Red Sox in September:
The lineup was missing Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury. But you can also see how many spots they could improve. They could go into free agency looking for parts to plug into the assembly line.
The Giants aren't, really. At worst, they'll have two outfield spots and two rotation spots open, without a lot of attractive options on the market. But I'm still guessing they'll have just left field and one or two rotation spots. They aren't going to exchange their lineup in as if it were a bunch of doinky Scrabble tiles. So the comparison is imperfect.
But if you're looking for a team that was even worse than the Giants and bounced back the next season, here you go. The Red Sox. They're like the Giants with the history, the enviable ballpark, the noveau championnat riche, and the obnoxiousness. Hopefully, the Giants can ape their worst-to-first run, too.
First, though, let's sit back and watch the Red Sox stomp the everloving goobers out of the Giants. Because, goodness, are these two teams having different seasons.
Hitter to watch
One of those free agents in the outfield? Jacoby Ellsbury. He's going to be paid as an elite-ish center fielder, so I don't know if the Giants are going to be interested in that sort of thing. But if Hunter Pence scuttles away in the offseason, I'd expect the Giants to be interested. Vrooom and defense and more vroooom.
He would in no way help the Giants' lack of power, which seems to be the biggest problem with the offense, but he's one of the few good outfielders out there.
Pitcher to watch
Jake Peavy? Well, wap my snooze button, if it isn't Jake Peavy. How are you, old friend?
This here's Jake, everyone. He used to be Clayton Kershaw when Kershaw was just a teenager. How goes it, Jake? Good to see you.
Why the last time you were around here, there were all sorts of trade rumors. That was wild. But you did get traded, and then again? My, my, my, things do change. Ain't nothin' certain except uncertainty, am I right?
Now ... wait, what are you doing?
I'm not sure what you're up to, but I was about to invite you in for some pie. Now if you'll ...
Hold on there, Jake. I thought we was ...
I thought this was all behind us, Jake. I thought we had an understanding.
/four-pitch 1-2-3 inning with two double plays
You're a real ass, you know that, Jake Peavy?
This is not the year the Red Sox and Giants meet in the World Series. But when they do, everyone, it'll be fun.