Meet The New Red Sox, Same As The Old Red Sox

When Evan Longoria’s 12th inning home run barely snuck over the wall near the left-field foul pole in Tampa last night, all I could do was laugh.

I mean, what else could you really do at that point? All seemed well earlier in the night. The Red Sox and Orioles were in a rain delay with the Sox ahead 3-2, and the Yankees leading the Rays 7-0 in the eighth inning.

Then Dan Shaughnessy appeared on my TV screen via NESN. His beaming face proclaimed that the Red Sox would now be able to have a day off before starting their division series with the Rangers or Tigers, because the “Rays aren’t going to win tonight.”

<a href="http://msn.foxsports.com/video?vid=f89d1a6f-0c85-4303-b39f-e498d0ae2d20" target="_new" title="">NESN: Shaughnessy jinx?</a>

I knew right then how things would turn out.

The loss stings, but it isn’t the devastating killshot that ’03 or ’86 or ’78 were. This wasn’t a sudden death, it was long and drawn out, and by the end of it you were just hoping they’d get put out of their misery. Big picture, this is a worse collapse than those seasons, but in the moment, not quite as painful.

So who takes the fall for this one? I’m already anticipating what changes are going to be made to this team and organization between now and next February. This will be a transitional offseason if there ever was one.

If you’re going to read anything this morning, I recommend Chad Finn: Red Sox did this to themselves

Here’s a few other links from this morning. As you can imagine, this is a Shaughnessy-free zone, though I did hear he makes references to the “baseball Gods” this morning. Must be a new book in the works. What’s the angle this time? (I think Jeff Jacobs has already coined the phrase The Curse of the Andino.) Maybe it’s the connection to LeBron James…

For Sox, misery arrived in slow motion – You can also rely on Alex Speier to bring you a reasonable take on things.

A hurt for the ages – Gordon Edes says that this one is going to take a while to get over.

This isn’t 1978 … it’s much, much worse – Christopher Smith explains why this is so bad.

‘Devastating blow’ for Red Sox – Scott Lauber looks at a collapse rivaled only by that of the Berlin Wall.

Red Sox forever choked – Steve Buckley says not to let the two World Series trophies blind you: the Red Sox are still the Red Sox.

Sox problems run deeper than final loss – Sean McAdam says that the Red Sox had set themselves up for just this sort of torturous ending.

Red Sox complete a collapse for the ages – Mike Fine says that the final weeks of the season turned into a “nightly death struggle.”

Why Terry Francona was one who deserved (and deserves) better – Rob Bradford says that the Red Sox manager is a victim in this mess.

Plenty of question marks for Epstein – Nick Cafardo says that the Sox GM will have some answering to do.

Wakefield wants to come back – Peter Abraham’s notebook has a odd quote from the knuckleballer, who believes that “the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that (all time Red Sox wins) record. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber has the Red Sox players backing Francona.

Seymour is still defensive force – Julian Benbow has a look at Richard Seymour’s role in bringing the Raiders back to respectibility. The former Patriot talked with New England reports on a conference call yesterday. More on Seymour from Dan Duggan | Paul Kenyon | Glen Farley | Tom E. Curran

Good stuff on Brandon Spikes – Ian Rapoport looks at whether the second-year linebacker might be starting to “get it.”

Just a finesse team? Patriots hope not – Chris Forsberg looks at the Patriots transition from a “a lunch pail-toting group of overachievers with a smashmouth defense to some version of the Greatest Show on Turf, an offensive juggernaut with
little defensive backbone.”

Time to question Ochocinco’s play – Karen Guregian looks at the receiver’s poor play.

Pats Pregame Points: Game Four At Raiders – Chris Warner looks ahead to Sunday.

Mankins misses practice with illness – The Patriots Journal has the All Pro guard missing perhaps the first practice of his career yesterday. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport  has a look at the Seymour trade. The Globe notebook from Monique Walker has more on Ochocinco. The Enterprise notebook from Glen Farley has Brian Waters talking about playing in the “Black hole.”

Steven Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski ignoring the elephant in the rink – DJ Bean looks at the battle for the last defensive spot on the Bruins.

Bruins’ Sauve hoping his number is called - The Globe notebook has the Bruins second round pick in 2008 hoping to show he’s NHL-ready.

  • Fred_West_Lynn

    No link to the Region's Most Important Voice on All Sports whose spittle graces the front page of the Boston Globe?

    Excellent omission!

  • APimpNamedDaveR

    I don't want to read/hear any of this B.S. about the players "not playing hard enough" or there being a "spa-like atmosphere" (sorry, Jim Ed) in the clubhouse — all of that was perfectly fine and not a problem at all when the team was going 81-47.

    The problem is very, very simple. It's not Francona, it's not Theo, it's not the scouts or the player development people or the farm system. It's that three key pitchers pitched like ess-haich-eye-tee for all of September: Beckett, Lester, and Bard. That's it. The team hit well enough to win; the bullpen other than Bard pitched well enough to win; the teams they played in September were decent but beatable; the guys who aren't expected to perform (Weiland, Wakefield) didn't, but that shouldn't be terminal.

    It was Beckett, Lester, and Bard. End of effing story. Beckett, at least, has an injury excuse, and I can give him that. But I haven't heard anything about Lester and Bard being hurt. I also don't want to hear how Curt Young should have "fixed" things, although he does bear some level of responsibility if he wasn't trying to identify mechanical problems or other things. It's the player's responsibility to focus and perform.

    And why aren't I reading anything about Papelbon grooving two fastballs DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE PLATE in a save situation in a must-win-to-preserve-the-season game? I'm pretty sure that a Yalie like Lavarnway isn't stupid enough to call a 94mph meatball in the fat part of the strike zone after Reimold showed he can't handle outside heat. Hell, Papelbon even admitted he was 'overthrowing'. So let's call a spade a spade: Papelbon, who is possibly the dumbest (with respect to pitching) pitcher on the staff, just tried to blow one past Reimold to end the game so he'd look good. Jonny, you can do that when you're Rob Dibble and you're throwing 102mph. When your fastball is 94mph, you can't. Just ask Calvin Schiraldi. Enjoy your next team, Jon.

    • tl;dr

      "all of that was perfectly fine and not a problem at all when the team was going 81-47. "

      But it was a problem when they were going 7-20 so…

      • APimpNamedDaveR

        If it was a problem when they were going 7-20, it would have been a problem when they were going 81-47. Unless you're arguing that in the absence of all the garbage about "spa-like" and the rest they would have gone 101-27 over the summer, it's not a problem.

        It's like saying "there's carpeting in the locker room", and considering that to be a cause of the swoon. That's the fallacy of confusing correlation with causation. Just because something exists in a given scenario does not mean it caused the scenario. Sometimes it's just random chance; sometimes it's joint correlation with a third factor, which is the true causal issue. An example of that: murder rates and air conditioner usage are highly correlated. Does that mean air conditioners cause murderous rages? No — the answer is that both are highly correlated with "summer". Murders go up in the summer — summer is the causal factor for murders. Air conditioner use also goes up in the summer. The correlation of the two does not imply causation.

        What this is is lazy scapegoating. The players didn't win because (sorry, Jim Ed) they didn't treat the clubhouse "like a workplace". Bull. They didn't win because Papelbon effing threw an effing fastball down the middle of the plate. They didn't win because Lester and Beckett had a joint ERA over 5 in September. It's just lazy idiocy to point at things that merely existed, like a chair or a certain color of nameplate over the locker, and say "oh, there you go — that's why the players failed to perform." No. Point out EXACTLY how this led to the problem, or STFU. Did the spa-like atmosphere cause Beckett to not work on his pitches the way he did when the team was 81-47? Did it keep Varitek and Salty and Lavarnway from going over opposing hitters before games such that they didn't know how to pitch them? Did it make Lester lose his control so that he couldn't find the strike zone with a GPS system until last night? Please, show me how this specifically affected the team. Otherwise, these writers (and, sorry, Jim Ed) are just spouting nonsense in an attempt to attach blame to some sort of amorphous "problem" in the "organization" that can only be addressed by, say, 400,000 hours of taking caller's questions on EEI.

        • latetodinner

          Dave:

          Let's assume you are right for a second. Its not the clubhouse or attitude or whatever you want to call it. I am much closer to your way of thinking than I am to the talking heads. If I take that to the logical conclusion that down the stretch the key players did not perform…I have to ask why didn't they perform. There are only two reasons they do not perform…mechanics and conditioning. I did not see or hear anything about Becket, Lester, Bard or Pap's mechanics…so I am starting to agree with the conditioning argument.

        • APimpNamedDaveR

          I absolutely, 100% think that this team is very poor in the conditioning department. This isn't the first year that's happened — it's happened, to various extents, in each of the past 6 seasons. While ultimately it's up to the players to keep themselves in shape, I do think the team bears some responsibility in that department, especially in spring training.

          On the other hand, there's always a risk involved with working older players too hard. It's better to have a poorly-conditioned star in the lineup every day over having a well-conditioned star miss significant time because of an injury incurred while doing conditioning work.

          It's a valid question, and one I'd like to see addressed. But I strongly doubt anyone in the media (except for the outliers like Finn or Pete Abe) will actually do any writing or investigation about that subject, because it's easier to write "NEW CURSE OF THE BAMBINO" and "THEO MUST GO" over and over again.

        • tl;dr

          "It's like saying 'there's carpeting in the locker room', and considering that to be a cause of the swoon."

          No, it's like saying, "things were just a little too cushy in the locker room".

        • tl;dr

          And dude, you need to take some deep cleansing breaths.

          P.S. – Lester still couldn't find the plate last night. Unless you think 4 BB's is a sign of accuracy…

    • latetodinner

      Dave:

      I agree with about 90% of what you are writing but I think others share a large part of the blame pie. Pap blew two saves in the last 5 games. If the sox bring him back at $12 mill + then I will simple ask how did Lou Gorman become GM again without any of us knowing. Bedard, Wakefield, Miller and Weiland all sucked. None of them stepped up. On the patriots if someone is hurt the philosophy is "next man up" evidently that is not the case with the Sox. You might not want to blame them but the four of them had a chance to establish themselves and make money next year…all failed. On top of that Crawford did not hit all year, JD Drew took the year off. Other than Pedroia and Elsbury no one really had a great year. Even Ortiz…had a great first 3 months but from July on has been average at best. So much under achieving…so little space to slam everyone.

      Where I think you are being generous, and we argued this last week is with Theo. As Tony mazz has been saying for the last 4 months…Theo knew in Feb he did not have enough arms stashed at Pawtucket and Portland in case of emergency. He had chances in April and then again in july to rectify this problem. He was cruising along and felt he did not have to make a move. He was wrong and now it bit the team in the ass. I said two weeks ago he should lose his job and I believe it more now. You can say all you want Cashman signed Burnett to a bad contract but I would take him any day over Theo.

      I think Tito should not be the fall guy. Whereas I do not personally like him as a manager…I don't think has enough of Bill Belichick and the best player plays regardless of status in him…I don't think he had the horses to get it done this year. Having said that, he needs to show that things will be different next year if he stays…expectations, conditioning, desire, and fundamentals. However, if the team underperforms next year…Tito goes.

      Lastly, this offseason will be interesting. If I were Tom Warner I would be pretty angry my $160 mill was wasted. He has to make sure he does not make an emotional decision rather than a rational one. But he needs to be proactive…hire a good GM…get Larry L. out of the baseball operations way and trust his new baseball people. It will be fun to watch.

      • APimpNamedDaveR

        You're actually citing Mazz? Mazz is an idiot. His hindsight is so keen it can't be measured using traditional optics.

        So what you're telling me is that given this initial setup (numbers are average 162 game season numbers from Baseball Reference, btw):

        Beckett (15-10, 3.84, $15.75M)
        Lester (17-7, 3.53, $5.75M)
        Buchholz (15-11, 3.64, $550k)
        Lackey (15-11, 4.10, $15.25m)
        Matsuzaka (16-10, 4.25, $10M)

        With the following in reserve:
        Wakefield (12-11, 4.41)
        Miller (9-12, 5.79)
        Doubront (5-5, 4.84)
        Aceves (13-2, 2.93)
        Weiland (3.51 ERA as a starter in the minors)
        Duckworth (7-11, 5.28) (bet you all forgot about him!)

        And with Pimental, Ranaudo, and Drake Britton in the lower minors…

        And adding Millwood in May….

        …. that it should have been CLEAR to Theo that the team "didn't have enough arms" to handle an injury?

        $47M of starters who project, based on their careers, to go 78-49 with an ERA in the high 3s…. with 3 guys who have at least started regularly, if not spectacularly, in MLB, plus Aceves who was a starter until the Yankees moved him to long relief in 2009, plus a high-upside lefty prospect in Doubront, plus a medium-upside prospect in Weiland, plus some flyers on reclamation projects like Duckworth…..

        …. and that was CLEARLY insufficient????? So Theo should have ASSUMED, despite ANY evidence of injury/trouble in spring training, that 2/5 of his roster would miss virtually the entire year; that Lackey would prove historically bad (despite having a great spring training — people forget that, too, in hindsight), and that Lester and Beckett would spit the bit in six months?

        Only a New Englander would be that blindly pessimistic. Why didn't they build a second Fenway Park, just in case a meteor hit the first one, too?

        Again, you (and idiot Mazz) are putting patently unrealistic expectations on Theo, who is somehow expected to predict two season-ending injuries in May and June and therefore carry some number more than 15 potential spot starters for a full season.

        That's absurd.

        • latetodinner

          I quoted Mazz…because in this instance I think he is right. They knew in February Matzuaka had issues and might not pitch this year…it was confirmed in March. I don't think they ever considered Weiland and Duckworth legit Major League arms…they certainly did not look at them that way in March…if they had they would not have signed Millwood. Why they released Millwood is still a mystery. The quote Mazz keeps referencing was Theo saying he had 7 or 8 major league arms and he would like to go into the season with 11 or 12. By your list in Feb/ March they had 8. They lost Dice K…they brought in Millwood. They lost Buckholz and replaced him with Bedard. At most they had 8 arms at any one time in the organization. You don't have to agree with Mazz or me in this case but it was Theo who made the quote. He knew he did not have the arms stock piled and he did nothing to fix it. If you don't want to blame Theo I think you are being overly generous. I understand your point that it was players not performing down the line that caused the collapse…but I think there is more blame to be distributed and how the pitching staff was constructed is high on that list.

        • APimpNamedDaveR

          We'll have to agree to disagree on this one, because I know you're not a Mazz… :) But you're completely off with respect to Matsuzaka. The problems with Dice-K were not evident at all in February. The elbow problems began with his start against the Mariners on April 29th, when he was pulled with "elbow stiffness" after 4 innings. (After giving up 2 hits in 15 innings over his previous 2 starts, mind you.) He was skipped in his next start, but did pitch on his normal day in the godawful endless game against the Angels, wherein he gave up 2 runs and lost. He made 2 more starts, was DL'd, had an MRI that showed a ligament sprain, went back to Japan for a second opinion, and had the surgery in June.

          There were ZERO health questions about Dice-K in Spring Training. In fact, things were very promising with him. See, e.g., Edes' spring training blog from March 20th:
          http://proxy.espn.go.com/blog/boston/red-sox/post

          If Dice-K had been hurt in February, like you said, and Theo had affirmatively decided to forego seeking a replacement in favor of a full year of Wakefield plus the arms on hand…. maybe I'd agree with you. But that wasn't the case at all.

        • latetodinner

          They thought it Feb he had back issues that had carried over from the year before. I don't think they expected Tommy John surgery but they had to be delusional if they thought they were going to get 36 starts out of him.

          Its all a moot point. Most awkward press conference I have seen in Boston since the Parcell's post SB loss..Kraft, Groceries etc. Looks like the coach and GM are on two different pages. It also looks like there were more problems in the locker room than we ever thought or that the crack Boston Sports Baseball Media had uncovered or reported on. Fans left in the dark with few or no answers..who'd a thunk it?

  • forbin

    blame Sweet Caroline

  • NutCracker

    I feel sick today but TBS must feel worse after losing those AL & NL sudden-death tiebreak games tonight? Mega$$$! Last night was a 1.6 for ESPN – not to shabby

  • Mike

    Think Jason Wolfe crapped his pants when he realized he wasn't going to have play-off baseball to carry him through the fall ratings?

  • Classless

    Gotta love the radio call-in idiots today screaming "trade Lackey for Zito!" or "Trade Crawford for Werth!"

  • bostonsportsmediafan

    Mike and Mike's "Red Sox Decline" Sweet Caroline spoof:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWaoZvWu6As

    Was on M+M on Wednesday morning.

  • Chris

    Im blaming Shaughnessy, once I heard him say "Im not worried" after Tampa Bay started to put a run or two on the board I knew it was over.

    Since the Red Sox have part ownership in the Globe (or at least i think they still do), cant they replace Shaughnessy this offseason? I think that's their biggest need.

  • Post1113

    It's the Curse Of Dale Arnold http://arnoldcurse.webs.com/