The Red Sox won 89 games last season and that was probably a few more than they should have. They didn't have Jacoby Ellsbury all year. They didn't have Dustin Pedroia for three months. They didn't have Kevin Youkilis for two months. They had a terrible bullpen.
But they wrung 89 victories out of what they had. There were probably a dozen times Terry Francona remarked how much he liked that team and how determined they were.
That's what makes this season so confounding. The Sox were 81-42 from April 16 to Sept. 1. That's 123 games, 76 percent of the season. Playing .658 baseball for four and a half months is pretty amazing.
So what explains the 2-10 start and the 3-11 funk they're in now?
As of Sept. 1, the Red Sox were on a pace to finish with 99 wins. They had four legit MVP candidates, two All-Star starters and a closer having a lock-down season. If you expected better than that, you were unrealistic.
But something happened when the calendar flipped to September. Injuries are part of it, but injuries don't explain going 3-11. The roster is better than 3-11.
The Sox aren't just losing, they're playing poorly and playing without much passion. Missed cut-off men, poor base-running and situational hitting, a lack of attention to detail. That's on Terry Francona and the coaches.
They also failed to build starter depth. The Red Sox have a well-funded and comprehensive player development system and the only starter they were able to spit out of their vaunted machine for 2011 was Kyle Weiland? How is that possible? That's on Theo Epstein and his staff.
Injuries are again an issue. Clay Buchholz had a stress fracture that took weeks to diagnose. Kevin Youkilis has broken down, perhaps to the point where he shouldn't play. Jed Lowrie played with a bum shoulder for several weeks, was shut down, and now he's playing with a bum shoulder again. He is hitting .185/.234/.246 since June 1. What is the point of his being in uniform? That's on the medical staff.
There also is too much of a "everything will be fine" attitude. It took being 2-10 for the Sox to wake up in April and realize that other teams weren't going to lay down. Now they're 3-11 and running out of time to change it. That's on the players. Perhaps its time to play baseball instead of playing with your iPads.
This isn't about making the playoffs. This is about deserving to make the playoffs and being ready to play once you get there.
One of two things can happen. The Sox will continue this slide and go down in baseball history as underachievers who weren't much interested in being great. Or they will remember what made them so good for so long and make what is remaining of this season theirs.
The Sox were a wonderful team for 123 games. How about for 13 more? That doesn't seem like too much to ask.