Last year the Boston Red Sox started the season 0-6, then 2-10, before going 18-10 over their next 28 games to get to .500 at 20-20, 40 games in.
Over the next 3 plus months they were the best team in baseball until they went 7-20 in September. Between the 20-20 start and the fall fade the Red Sox were a major league best 64-32 which included a 20-6 record in July. They finished 91-72 and out of the playoffs.
Now here we are in 2012 with a new general manager because the old one ran away as soon as they’d let him. A new field manager because the old one was run out of town as someone who lost control both at work and home due to his problems with prescription drugs.
They have the same owners; half of the same coaching staff, virtually the same front office and most of the same players and team has started 10-16. And guess what? They seemingly have the same problem and this should be a surprise to no one.
This is starting to appear to be much larger then some take out chicken and a few brews in the clubhouse while a game is going on.
Recently this team completed a 6-1 road trip through Minnesota and Chicago and came home to face Oakland and Baltimore and continue the streak. They went 1-5 before heading to Kansas City for the next three evenings.
Granted they are dealing with many injuries 3B Kevin Youkilis, LF Carl Crawford, CF Jacoby Ellsbury, closer Andrew Bailey and starting pitchers John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka are all on the disabled list. But at times last season, as in every season they were hurt too.
This team is inherently bad at home, in Fenway Park, which in my lifetime, even when the team was blah, they were at least a decent home team but not since September 2011. In this time span the team is a woeful 8-20 in the friendly confines and an ugly 18-36 overall.
So what’s the issue? The pitching has been awful, there is only one starter with an ERA under 5.00 and Clay Buchholz tops out at 9.09 with a 1.90 WHIP. This leads to the bullpen pitching more innings then necessary and inflated numbers in ERA, WHIP and inherited runners scoring. One problem is the genesis of another.
And the hitting has stopped as well. A once red-hot Adrian Gonzalez just went 0 for 8 on Sunday after an 0 for 13 series against Oakland. They’ve gotten nothing out of Youkilis; Ross is watching his numbers fall by the wayside and Ortiz, Pedroia and Sweeney can only carry the team so far. They were so bad they traded for a guy who one month into the season was hitting .043 when they acquired him. Marlon Byrd was a whopping 3 for 43 when he reported to the team. In his defense he has been a bright spot the last week raising his average about 200 points and playing above average defense in the field.
So while all the not scoring runs and giving up way too many is leading to these ugly losses there is still something wrong here. I have heard this several times in the last week and more in the last few days and not just from Red Sox fans. “This team is very unlikable”.
That’s bad in a lot of ways. But the worst way can be in the clubhouse, if we as fans of the team and baseball fans in general, do not like these guys and this team, do you think that they like each other?
Earlier this season Pedroia stood up for Youkilis but beyond him how many others were there on Youk’s side? Do the guys in clubhouse like and respect Josh Beckett? If the answer is no do you think they’d have his back in the media or on the field?
With all the changes this team made in the off season the funny thing is the result has stayed the same. So if the result is constant the elements of the problem leading to the result must be as well. In my convoluted English this means the problem wasn’t taken care of by bouncing Terry Francona and letting Theo Epstein walk away, it’s still here some where.
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So what has remained constant in this fiasco besides guys like Beckett and Youkilis? Well that’d be your owners, John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino. While in the past I have cut these guys slack because of how well the team has performed on the field I no longer feel this way. In the past I’d have told you these are some of the best owners in baseball but I no longer feel this way.
This team is run by three carpetbaggers with no long-term love of the team, the fans or the region other than our money. These guys aren’t from here and they have so many other “projects” grouped under the Fenway Sports Group banner as well as other holdings that it seems, despite what the claim, as if the team is no longer their first concern.
As Red Sox fans we are bombarded with advertisements seeking our money in addition to tickets to the games for Red Sox Nation memberships, bricks, musical CD’s, team DVD’s, concerts and now soccer games. We have had NASCAR pushed down our throats and now EPL soccer. I don’t give a shit about Liverpool or Carl Edwards I am a Red Sox fan. If I want to follow soccer and NASCAR along with the other sports and activities I am interested in I will do so on my time for the teams, organizations and people of my choosing. I don’t need all these affiliations and bad NESN programming shoved down my gullet.
An example lies down the road in Foxboro. The Kraft family owns the Patriots, the Revolution and the stadium yet I am not bombarded with Revs ticket ads and requests during the radio and television broadcasts of the games like we are with the Red Sox ownership.
These men no longer care about baseball like Red Sox fans care about baseball. These men don’t care about our team like we care about our team. They’d rather watch soccer and NASCAR and that’s cool just don’t ruin my team in the process.
They are so out of touch with the Red Sox right now, both the on field product and the fans, that it is affecting the way team performs. It all appears to be smoke and mirrors designed to give you another big Broadway show and take as much of your hard earned money from your wallet as they possibly can. While we are good little doobies sitting in our cramped Fenway Park seats paying the highest ticket prices in baseball to see a team under perform because ownership is not doing all it can to correct the issues the team faces.
Magic Johnson rode in on his horse and saved the day for the Los Angeles Dodgers. And don’t get me wrong, while every day I am thankful that Frank McCourt didn’t get to run this franchise into the ground, I am less and less pleased each of those days with the trio entrusted to run it now. Where is our Magic Johnson? Who is our Magic Johnson?
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel in their classic hit “Mrs. Robinson” declare “where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you’”. I now ask the same of the one man who can straighten this mess out.
Where have you gone Robert Kraft, Red Sox Nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMichaelsII
photo credit: Boston Globe