We finished in fourth place with them; we can finish in fourth place without them.
The Red Sox aren't going to win the division, that's for sure. Of the new acquisitions, only Lansford has been much help. He's a definite improvement over Hobson at third; he fields, he steals and through Sunday he was batting .306. "The minute I was traded to the Red Sox," he says, "I knew I'd have to forget about The Wall and concentrate on hitting the ball up the middle."
Hoffman has been less successful replacing Burleson. He has made some costly errors in the early going, and through Sunday he was batting only .172. But Houk thinks he sees Marty Marion every time Hoffman goes out there, and anyway, Hoffman's heart is in the right place. Growing up in Anaheim, he was such a devout Red Sox fan that he cut out a picture of Yastrzemski's face from a poster and pasted up his own, just to see what he would look like in a Boston uniform. Miller, who's in his second tour with the club, can replace Lynn as a fielder, but in nine years in the majors, he has hit only 20 homers while batting .266. Allenson started well, but as of Sunday he was batting .206.
Tanana, who's gone from being Sandy Koufax to Eddie Lopat, and Clear, who's still having trouble finding the plate, could help the pitching. But through Sunday Tanana was 0-3 with a 7.08 ERA and Clear had only one win and no saves. Campbell is supposedly recovered from arm problems, but Houk is waiting for warm weather to use him regularly. In the meantime, Campbell wears a thermometer around his neck.
The whole team has taken on a new demeanor. "The caste system is gone," says Pitcher Chuck Rainey, something of a free spirit. In the Red Sox yearbook, Rainey responded to "Person you'd most like to meet," with "the Red Sox bookkeeper." "The clubhouse is a lot looser," says Reliever Tom Burgmeier. "We really haven't had anybody to make some noise since Tiant left. Now we have guys like Tanana to rekindle the spark." As if on cue, Yastrzemski literally lights a fire under Tanana's chair.
It's up to Houk, meanwhile, to light a fire under the Red Sox, who ended last week with a seven-game losing streak. "Things were going pretty good until recently," The Major said Sunday. "Then it happened. It's just unbelievable, but it will end."
The mistake some Red Sox people are making is equating the fresh air around the clubhouse with the departure of Lynn, Fisk, Burleson and the rest. They should remember what Frazee said about Ruth: "The Boston club could no longer put up with his eccentricities. I think the Yankees are taking a gamble." As subsequent events proved, of course, the Red Sox were the ones taking the gamble, and Frazee lost it. Last week, while the current Red Sox were struggling, people were beginning to wonder if Sullivan and LeRoux had not lost their gamble, too.