The Sox finally have a day off after the much talked about 30 games they have played over the last thirty days. Is this what the Sox need to recharge and make the playoff push? I doubt it very much. They need pitching, pitching, and pitching. Of course, lost in the panic over the playoff race is the fact that the Sox could have pried away another middle reliever or closer this summer, but wisely resisted temptation and kept their young arms in-house (Anibal Sanchez, Jon Lester, Jon Papelbon, and Manny Delcarmen). I still believe this Sox team is good enough to contend this year as it is currently constructed. If not, at least the large contracts and empty farm system is not the only thing visible in the near future.

Of course, you can bet that no one had the day off in Foxboro today as Bill Belichick and his coaching staff get ready for yet another rematch/grudge match as the Steelers, fresh off of pasting a couple of patsies, get their first true test of the season against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season. The big question is not who is calling plays, but who is paying attention to the details? Is Dante Scarnecchia too involved with the offensive game planning to properly give attention to the o-line? Is Josh McDaniels spending too much time on game plan and not enough time with Tom Brady? I doubt it, but I am sure looking forward to Sunday afternoon.

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I love Bob Ryan. I really do. He is an excellent columnist. Ryan has produced some amazing work for the Boston Globe. Like Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, Ryan may not have the high heat any longer on a consistent basis, but when he is on, he is dead-on and untouchable. Look up the column penned by Ryan this summer on him scoring ballgames over the years. This is what they call an instant classic down in Bristol, CT. Classic? Heck, it was a work of art.

However, (yup, we knew the love-fest could not continue unabated) I take issue with his column in the Wednesday, September 21, 2005 Boston Globe sports section. In it, he looks at the dozen teams still in the playoff race as we head down the homestretch of September.

A quick review of the salient points and my responses:

NO WAY JOSE: San Diego, Philadelphia, Chicago, Oakland. The only two points I have to make are that Oakland has enough pitching to sneak into the playoffs, sneak through the ALDS, and pray for a miracle. Danny Haren is da bomb. Of course, go back to game one of the world series where he came in and demolished the Sox and you can see why Billy Beane gave up Mark Mulder for him. This kid is Mark Prior without the injuries. Also, never bet against Mark Buerhle. EVER!

MAYBE: Atlanta, LA-Anaheim-Cali, Boston, New York. OK, Boston and New York are legitimate world series contenders every single season. Yes, Ryan maybe went for a little drama, but those two are definitely in the next column. Otherwise, I agree.

A RIGHT TO DREAM: Houston, Florida, Cleveland. OK, Florida likely may not even make the playoffs when all is said and done. Houston could go on if they miraculously score some runs. Cleveland is a great story, but even they may not make the playoffs. Sorry but the Yanks and Sox belong here.

THEIRS TO LOSE: St Louis. And lose they will. No way they even make it to the world series with Cris Carpenter and the hanger-ons in the rotation. No way, no how, you heard it here first.

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