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Dan Shaughnessy

Kick in the pants for fans

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / October 2, 2011

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It just keeps getting worse. The general manager has the look of a man who'd rather be working at Wrigley Field. The ex-manager tells us that his players weren't committed to one another and that they showed their true colors when things went south. We get no denial that starting pitchers were drinking in the clubhouse on days when they were not scheduled to pitch. The ex-manager tells us he didn't have the support of ownership.

Yesterday morning, while we were still absorbing the ridiculous and awkward Theo-Tom-Larry performance of Friday night, we got word from John Henry's wife that the Red Sox owner made it home from the hospital in time to watch a soccer match.

"Happy John is home," Linda Pizzuti tweeted. "He slipped down stairs, injuring his neck. Kept at hospital as a precaution, but made it home for the derby."

Isn't that just swell? Certainly we're all relieved that the Sox owner was not seriously injured, but yesterday morning wasn't the time to announce that Henry made it home in time to watch his Liverpool team play Everton in the Merseyside derby. It's not what the loyal citizens of Red Sox Nation needed to hear.

On Friday, Henry's manager of eight years was made the scapegoat for the greatest collapse in baseball history. A fall on his boat prevented Henry from appearing at the press conference (thus no chance to explain why Terry Francona would say he didn't have the backing of management), but we're supposed to feel good that he made it home in time for the derby?

Where are the priorities? Don't Red Sox fans deserve better than this?

Among the clunky moments of the hideous "front office" press conference, we had Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner struggling with the uncomfortable Theo Epstein question. Lucchino reminded us that it was not the time to talk about Epstein's situation, then Werner grabbed the mike and reminded us that Epstein still has a year to go on his contract.

Epstein sat in the middle, probably wondering what it would feel like to be the man who brings a World Series championship to the Cubs after doing it with the Red Sox. Bet the Sox let him talk with the Cubs.

Meanwhile, as time passes, Francona looks better and better. He has become Boston baseball's Joan of Arc, a perfect martyr figure. One of my intrepid readers said the Francona sacking reminded him of the Saturday Night Massacre when Richard Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

Everybody else continues to tumble down stairs.

I certainly can't wait for that late February morning when pitchers and catchers report and we get to revisit this epic collapse with the losers who polluted the final weeks of the baseball season.

We get to ask all the returning starting pitchers if they were drinking during games. We get to ask Adrian Gonzalez why he was complaining about playing so many Sunday night games and telling us that it was God's will that the Sox not make the playoffs. We get to ask Jason Varitek (if he's back) and Dustin Pedroia where the leadership was.

Who was Francona talking about when he said guys weren't standing up for one another?

We get to ask Carl Crawford if he thinks he can do better than 18 steals and an on-base percentage below .300. We get to ask John Lackey (if he's still there) if TMZ left him alone during the winter and if he plans on disrespecting his new manager.

We get to ask Josh Beckett and Jon Lester if they are embarrassed that they were able to win only two games in September. We get to ask Beckett if it's true he gained 20 pounds during the 2011 season.

We get to ask the PR-minded Sox why they thought it was a good idea to allow four starting pitchers (Beckett, Lackey, Tim Wakefield, Clay Buchholz) to appear in country singer Kevin Fowler's "Hell, Yeah, I Like Beer" music video.

Good luck to Tony Pena, Eric Wedge, Jim Hickey, or whoever takes over the SS Red Sox. There is still a lot of talent on the roster - the Sox led the major leagues in runs scored and have a lot of high-priced pitching - but the organization is a dysfunctional mess.

They did not win back-to-back games in September. They won one September game in which they scored fewer than seven runs. Epstein was scrambling to bring Bruce Chen on board to pitch Game No. 163.

Think anybody spray-painted Fenway's lawn with the ALDS logo?

For all their talent and expectations, the Red Sox have finished in third place in their division two consecutive seasons. After telling us they were "all in" and "we won't rest," they were neither committed nor prepared.

Does it make you feel any better to know that Liverpool beat Everton, 2-0, yesterday?

Didn't think so.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy9@globe.com.

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