The State of Red Sox Nation

August 28, 2012

Baseball, Features

The question on every baseball fan’s mind: How in the world did it come to this? The answer, sadly, is far from simple. Without going back too far, this really all started last September with one of the most ridiculous team implosions in recent baseball memory (only the Mets can honestly rival the sequence of events the Red Sox organization suffered through over the last year).

A team with the second highest payroll in baseball should NEVER miss the playoffs like the Sox did last year. This is a given. However, what few people seem to remember is that this ballclub held their playoff destiny in their hands heading in to game 162 last season. If the Red Sox win this game, the question is begged: Do the Red Sox still lose Terry Francona, Theo Epstein, Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez? Probably not. This club was one game away from saving itself from public crucifixion.

Instead, the Red Sox end up with a manager who wasn’t even deemed fit to manage a Japanese professional baseball team, and a handful of players who simply didn’t want to play for an organization that blackballed the best manager/GM combo in their history until they couldn’t take anymore and skipped town.

Bobby V. in his Chiba Lotte Marines uniform

To address the Bobby Valentine hire first and foremost, this is probably the WORST possible man for the Red Sox job. Yes, it’s true that some teams with a gaggle of young players and a mid-to-lower-range payroll need a man like Valentine to teach said players and micromanage a baseball game. This Boston team was NOT a team that needed that. This is why Francona was so successful at what he did; He simply managed the personalities on the team to the point where no one person would become bigger than the team and its goals, and maintained a loose clubhouse atmosphere. This obviously worked, or the Red Sox would be sitting on top of year 94 without a World Series ring.

Before anyone says that Francona letting this team basically do whatever the hell it wanted off the field was the reason for the collapse last September, David Ortiz, the face of this organization since Manny left, came right out and said that the 2011 clubhouse was TAME compared to the 2004 squad (you know, the squad that broke “the curse”). This was a non-issue before the Boston media sensationalized the situation and made it seem like having a few beers on their off-days was the sole reason behind what would normally be seen as a common midseason slump if it hadn’t happened at the most crucial point of the year. It is NOT uncommon for ANY baseball club to struggle and fall in to a 25-game slump. Not by a long shot. I shouldn’t need to remind the common baseball fan that this is a game of streaks (take Albert Pujols’ start to the current season, for one example). However, I digress with this part of things. Long story short, you will be missed dearly Terry Francona. You don’t deserve having to sit in an ESPN booth calling games next to Aaron “fucking” Boone (who is always to be addressed as such. Don’t be a prude.).

Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia bidding each other farewell.

… Back to the trade. Now, taking all of these events in to account, it’s easier to understand exactly why this move absolutely HAD to be made by management. Rather than rolling the dice with signing another manager and essentially giving free-reign back to the players (which again, the Boston media would jump all over and start the same nonsense as they did 11 months ago and start the same process all over again), the Red Sox swallowed their mistakes, and cleaned house. As soon as Valentine took issue with Youkilis in a public forum, this move was going to happen.

All it took this time was another sensationalized story about a few of the players taking issue with Valentine’s decision to leave Lester out to dry for four innings in a piss-poor performance against the Blue Jays on July 22nd, where he gave up 4 homers and 11 earned runs. The players’ argument here being that Valentine was trying to “make an example” out of Lester, which they obviously got upset about, and went right to the owner to discuss getting rid of Valentine as a result. It’s no coincidence that the most outspoken players in this debacle were the ones traded (Gonzalez and Beckett). The reason for unloading Crawford should go without saying. No one in baseball besides Ned Colletti would want to pay 20 million a year for an injury-plagued left fielder who puts up the same numbers as Jeff Francouer.

What everyone should know is, the huge trade with Los Angeles, and the other trade with Chicago, were the only options that management left itself with. As a result, management, Red Sox nation, and the rest of baseball fans across the world should expect the Red Sox to go back to their old(ish) ways: high payrolls, comical under-performance by their big signings (Dante Bichette anyone?), and heartbreak. Welcome back to the good ole’ days, John Henry. You earned it.

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