I'm as guilty of propagating this as anybody else and for that I apologize. But it's time to be honest.
The 2011 Red Sox were not a disaster.
The Sox had the fourth-best run differential in the game at +138. They led baseball in runs, hits, doubles, total bases, OBP and slugging. They were second in walks and third in home runs.
The Sox were 84-54 after beating Texas on Sept. 3 and a half-game out of first place. To that point, 85 percent of the season had been played. Let's not discount that.
Everybody knows what happened after that. But the Sox are not the spendthrift Cubs or the perpetually disorganized Mets. This is a team that played horribly for three weeks and that may or may not have been caused by poor attitudes, poor conditioning and a poorly timed thirst for a cold Coors Light.
But to hear what people are saying and read what they are writing — and, again, guilty as charged — the Sox are the biggest bunch of crooks to invade Fenway Park since Doug MacRay, Jem Coughlin and Albert MaGloan.
Let's dial it back a little. The Red Sox will have an excellent offense next season, probably even better than this season. By default, Carl Crawford has to get better and they'll find a right fielder.
The pitching is an issue and it'll be up to Theo Epstein (presumably) to straighten that out. But it can be done. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves and Josh Beckett are five of your 12 for sure. Go from there.
Beyond that, here's the Extra Bases Five-Point Plan To Fix The Red Sox:
1. John Henry has to get involved. The Red Sox should be a priority, not part of his portfolio. Make it clear in words and deeds that you expect excellence. His silence is deafening.
2. Close the Fort Myers County Club. Make it clear to every player invited to spring training that they better show up early and in shape. If it takes sending trainers out to check up players every few weeks this winter, then that's what it takes.
Being in good condition and ready for 162 games should be an expectation for the players, not a choice.
3. Demand accountability. The Red Sox have lost track of the little things. The whole team should be on the field for the National Anthem, for instance. There should be a less excuse-making or complaining. Hiding from the media should not be allowed. Why is it every time the Sox lose, the same two or three players are left to explain it?
You saw how it translated onto the field. Missed cutoff men, running into outs, etc. Being professional and accountable is not a sometimes thing.
4. Get a strong pitching coach. Or a manager who knows pitching. All Terry Francona knew about pitching was that he didn't know much about pitching and he left it in the hands of others. That works with a strong pitching coach like John Farrell, but Curt Young never seemed to get a handle on the staff.
The Red Sox don't have to have dominant pitching to win. But they have to be reliable and that wasn't the case.
5. Change some faces. The 2012 Red Sox should not look like a reunion of the 2007 team. Shake it up a little bit. Get some players in here with something to prove, not reputations to protect.
The Red Sox do not need to start over, blow the whole thing up or run the bums out. They finished a game out of the playoffs, not 10. Let's not descend on Fenway Park with pitchforks and torches quite yet.