Is it 1978 all over again for the Red Sox?

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No, what’s happening now is nowhere near as catastrophic as the Red Sox’ 1978 collapse. And since there are still 16 baseball games to be played, it may not even be a collapse at all. But that can’t make anyone in Red Sox Nation feel all that good this morning. The impulse to panic seems pretty strong.

But let’s put this in some context.  Of those sixteen games the have remaining, seven of them come against the Orioles. Sure, bad teams have played spoiler before, but seven against the Orioles is the closest thing to collapse-proofing a team can get. Meanwhile, the Rays have 17 games left. Seven of them — seven! — come against the Yankees. Who, yes, have their own problems, but who aren’t exactly easy pickins, even in their current state.

Boston’s pitching has everyone ready to freak out. But the scheduling gods are smiling on them. They have two against Toronto this week before their four-game series against the Rays.  All they need to do is tread water in those six games and they’ll be in an OK position.

But if they fail to tread water? Or, worse, if the Orioles end up being the Red Sox’ Waterloo?  Then yes, Red Sox Nation, you have my permission to start doing fun photo mashups of Don Zimmer and Terry Francona and trying to figure out which Tampa Bay Ray gets the same colorful middle nickname that Bucky effin’ Dent was given back in the day.