THIS JUST IN: FRANCONA HAS HIS ROTATION AND BULLPEN, RESTED AND READY FOR WILDCARD ROUND BEGINNING ON THE ROAD AND THE BOSTON MEDIA CONTINUES TO PATRONIZE US
I grew up in this town in a time when the Red Sox didn’t get daily backrubs from the media. Yes, I know the Red Sox are going to be in the playoffs. But was that the goal for 2011, the Wild Card? If it is, well then that’s pathetic and not what championships are built on. In the last month I have been lectured by Jackie MacMullan, Gary Tanguay, Greg Dickerson, the staff at WEEI, the staff at NESN and everyone at CSNNE on how the AL East Division doesn’t matter. I already know it doesn’t matter to the Red Sox front office. Not when they are content to go with Darnell McDonald (HE’S HITTING .170!!!!) as a 4th outfielder and starter against lefties and Franklin Morales as the main lefty option out of the bullpen.
As of August 18th, the Red Sox were only 5 games ahead of the Texas Rangers in the loss column. Texas has a strong rotation, great lineup, and a better bullpen than the Red Sox. May I also remind you the defending AL Champs happen to play in a stadium that has been a house of horrors for the Boston Red Sox and this rotation the last 3 years? The Red Sox since 2009 are 6-16 against the Rangers and are JUST 2-7 in Arlington in that time. BRING EM’ ON!!
It took the Red Sox less than 4 days to let their 2 game lead over the New York Yankees evaporate. This despite a 10-2 record against the Yankees this year. I expected to wake up and hear nothing but condemnation from the local media. I mean this team has a $180 million dollar payroll. They are supposed to have this juggernaut of an offense. They had 13 games against the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals. Seven of those games were at home. They had a stretch where they played 14 of 17 games at Fenway Park, where they are extremely difficult to beat.
What do I hear? Excuses, sarcasm to fans, talking points and apathetic playoff rotation talk. Sean McAdam might as well be the Red Sox Front Office version of Jay Carney. (White House press secretary) His article two weeks ago on how the Yankees series didn’t mean that much was Kool-Aid journalism at its best. Hey Sean, it seemed important to the Yankees, they pulled their starter in the 5th inning with 2 outs and brought in a lefty who had maybe 2 minutes to warm up to strike out the Sox best hitter on 3 pitches. It seems important to them as they are slaughtering the likes of the White Sox and Royals without A-Rod while the Sox are mailing it in on a night by night basis. Maybe, that is the mentality of a team that has won 26 World Championships and a World Series in 2010. The Sox recorded a triple play last night. Did you know that? That’s all I heard today, I barely heard that their anemic offense of the last 2 weeks had two complete games thrown against them in a double-header while they recorded a total of 6 hits. It’s a good thing Jacoby Ellsbury showed up yesterday. Also, someone remind Adrian Gonzalez he doesn’t play in San Diego anymore. The park is smaller and your team is in contention.
The Boston media should be ashamed of themselves; you are there to report, not to cheerlead for the Red Sox. And Glenn Ordway wonders why there is apathy in the local sports scene. The goodwill that the Red Sox get as opposed to the Patriots is laughable. The Red Sox because they are media friendly, get a million passes while the Patriots, are under constant scrutiny. How many times have we heard on 98.5, that the Patriots haven’t won a championship in 7 years? Well for the Red Sox its 3 going on 4 and I see a team trending in the wrong direction. You could never tell that based on what you hear or read right now. All of sudden, the Wild Card is all you need. When this team was rolling 3 weeks ago they were going to run away and hide. But now that they are slumping while their arch-enemy is shining and all that really matters is second place. Wow, that’s a mantra to be proud of. If the Patriots wrap up a playoff berth early this year I hope they start resting their starters.
Of course, a team often takes on the temperament of its manager and front office. The Red Sox came out of Spring Training thoroughly unprepared for the start of the season. That led them to a 2-10 record and probably led to them being 8-1 against the Yankees to start the season. They had to start playing with a sense of urgency in May and June because they were on the outside looking in. Then right around the start of interleague, Francona started complaining about the interleague rules. The Red Sox then went on to have their worst performance in interleague play in 7 years. And what have we seen over the last 4 weeks? A very content team and manager, and they are playing like it. Last night’s lineup injuries aside was a joke, maybe that’s partly Theo’s fault. I think it is no surprise that the Red Sox are 10-9 in their last 19 games. They, like their Manager, seem to feel these games aren’t that important now that they are not fighting for their playoff lives.
Peter Gammons was one of the few media members to mention that the Red Sox had lost 16 of their last 22 games against the Texas Rangers. The lone critic of the Red Sox indifference to the AL East crown and #1 seed in the AL seems to be Tony Massarotti. You know what they say about a broken clock….but in all seriousness Mazz’s critique on is right on.
It just shows you the huge gap in coverage of the Patriots and Red Sox in this town. In the eyes of at least half of the media members in this town the Patriots are arrogant. But what’s more arrogant than playing for second place when the Red Sox charge ridiculous ticket prices and have a huge payroll. I constantly hear how in 2005 the Patriots threw a game against the Dolphins so they could line up against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round. But there is little mention of the Sox playing for the wildcard almost every season. Even in 2007, the one AL East title Francona has, they were resting starters down the stretch and seemed content to finish 2nd despite having a much better team than the Yankees.
Here are a few stats I found interesting. Since the 2004 season, no Wild Card team has won the World Series. Of the last 6 AL Wildcards, only 2 have gone to the LCS, and one to the World Series, and that was 4 years ago. Do you think the Red Sox could have used a home game in Game 7 against the Rays in 2008? The Red Sox DON’T WIN the World Series in 2007 without home field. That means ONE title in the last 86 years. Cleveland beat Boston 3 out of the first 4 and if it wasn’t for Beckett pitching twice (which he wouldn’t have in the ALDS) and the comforts of Fenway Park for games 6 and 7, the Sox do not win that World Series. Sean McAdam keeps trying to scare Red Sox Nation with threats of Justin Verlander’s dominance. Yes, Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball this year. But he’s no more dominant than Johan Santana was in 2003 and 2004 and the Yankees still beat the Twins in both series in 4 games. Minnesota was 2-2 in the Santana starts. And let’s not forget Cleveland is right there and would be a much easier first round opponent than Texas.
I am sure many people will smirk at this article, I get it, Adams Division jokes and so forth. Just another sky is falling opinion. The Red Sox might win 100 games for crying out loud which is quite an accomplishment. But, this team has injuries and holes, and they are not so much better than their competition that they can throw out the gloves and just win. I would try to position myself for the easiest road possible. If the Sox can run through Texas and New York I’ll be the first to write an article to say how wrong I was and the division doesn’t matter now and never will again. But, what will the media reaction be if they go down in first round like the Patriots did last year? Most likely, the Sox weren’t that good, Buchholz was hurt, Texas was a better team. That’s what type of town this is becoming, and it’s up to the fans to take off the pink hats and stop listening to the propaganda. Remember the media should never control the narrative, the fans should. As much as a dunce I think Bud Selig is, the quicker he makes the division title an advantage the better for baseball and the better for fans.
A COUPLE OF HEAD-SCRATCHERS
Franklin Morales…How is he on this team? Same goes for sub-Mendoza McDonald. Was Jeff Bailey unavailable?
Is Jason Varitek the only backup catcher the Manager won’t pitch hit for?
Finally, Carl Crawford is having a historically bad season. Last night 0-6 with 4 Ks in the double-header. Everything about this signing looks bad. A lefty pull hitter in a park made for right-handers. A guy, who is not cut out to bat 6th, doesn’t work counts, can’t hit lefties and refuses to steal bases anymore. Well, I sure hope the Sox have the $120 million to sign Jacoby after locking up $141 million to Carl. You wanted excitement Red Sox Front Office, are you getting it? You might have the next Vernon Wells.