Monday, April 23, 2012

The Boston Collapse: Part 2

     In 2011, no team was more disappointed by end of the regular season then the Boston Red Sox. At one point in September, the Red Sox had a 9 game lead in the race for a playoff spot. Then, things took a turn for the worst. The Red Sox lost 20 games in September alone, none of them worse than the last match of the season against Baltimore. Boston was on the road and, at the moment, tied with Tampa Bay for the wild card. However, things were looking up for Boston; they had a 3-2 lead over the Orioles, and the Yankees were beating Tampa Bay by 7 runs. After allowing a double in the bottom of the 9th, the Red Sox were just one strike away from the win. Unfortunately for Boston, Nolan Reimold had different plans; he bombed a ball to deep center field for the ground rule double, scoring Kyle Hudson from second. Tie game. Next up to the plate was Robert Andino. With a 1-1 count, Andino makes contact, sending the ball to shallow left where bust-left-fielder Carl Crawford missed the sliding catch. He tries to throw out Reimold at the plate, but it was too late. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay had a late inning surge, scoring 6 quick runs in the 8th, and 1 run in the 9th. In the bottom of the 12th, star 3rd basemen Evan Longoria hit his second home run of the game, robbing Boston of a playoff spot. Boston fans were dumbfounded....

David Ortiz
     The main reason for this historic collapse was due to chaos in the clubhouse. It was later released that players including John Lackey, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were supposedly bringing beer and video games into the clubhouse on their off nights. There was absolutely no order in Boston, which is why Terry Francona's contract was not renewed. Soon, the Red Sox were without their head coach, their general manager Theo Epstein and the respect of Red Sox nation. With fans fuming, the Red Sox organization knew they needed to find several replacements, and FAST. On December 1st, Bobby Valentine was introduced to the public as the new manager, a gutsy choice on Boston's part. Now that the 2012 season is underway, things aren't getting any better. They started off the season with an 0-3 record, all of their losses coming against Detroit. Now, two weeks have gone by since the season opener, and the Red Sox remain in last place at 4-10 (the last time Boston has started with a worse winning percentage as of April 21st was back in 1996). Talk shows, television stations and magazines everywhere are tearing apart the new manager, blaming him for such an atrocious start. It almost appears as if he has yet to gain the respect of the players. In fact, Valentine created several problems in the organization after criticizing Kevin Youkilis for his efforts. It was unprofessional for Valentine to mention that publicly. If he felt the need to bring it up, the best solution would have been confronting Youk privately, not releasing it to the public. The Sox made a big mistake in letting Terry Francona leave, and I would not be surprised if they decided to fire Valentine within the next few months.

     Pitching is a huge problem for the Red Sox, who are ranked dead last in the league when it comes to ERA (6.68 as of April 22). In just the third game of the season, Boston scored 12 runs, and STILL lost the game to Detroit. However, the game that highlighted Boston's weakness the most was against New York on April 21st. Going into the 6th inning, Boston had a 9-0 lead over New York. However, within the next 3 innings, the Red Sox's bullpen allowed 15 runs, and ended up losing the game 15-9. Their key-three starters (Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Bucholtz) are all pitching terribly, and will need to improve in order to lower the team's ERA. Batting has become a problem as well, especially after the loss of both Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford. Adrian Gonzalez has yet to hit like he did in 2011, and the same goes for Dustin Pedroia. In fact, the best hitter on the team so far has been 36 year old David Ortiz. If the red Sox want to make the playoffs, they can't rely on one player to lead a struggling offense.

       The Red Sox rank third in total payroll, and a lot of that money has been wasted these past few months. For example, the Red Sox spent 3.9 million dollars on closer Andrew Bailey, who was placed on the DL during spring training because of a thumb injury. The organization is a mess, and this year appears to be spent towards rebuilding next year’s team. To all those Red Sox fans, I would not be surprised if your team missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season.