The Red Sox season has come down to hoping Erik Bedard can beat the Orioles while rooting for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees against Tampa Bay. Guess Chuck Rainey couldn't make the trip for Boston.
How did this happen?
A 2-10 start to April.
A 6-19 start to September.
The rest of 2011 has been a mirage. Those 3 million fans should have stayed home. It's like they were never there.
The only thing real in between came on Father's Day when the Bruins brought the Stanley Cup to Fenway Park.
Jacoby Ellsbury's almost-MVP 38/31 season (he made an "almost-MVP" almost catch Monday night)? It only matters to Scott Boras. Jonathan Papelbon's spetacular comeback? Tell it to the 20 or so odd teams who need a closer this offseason. Adrian Gonzalez's .338 average? Not impressed. Jason Varitek catching 16 innings against Tampa Bay? Still impressed. Jon Lester's solid season on the mound? Wasted. Big Papi's 29 HRs? Yawn.
All those feel-good wins in July and August?
Save them for the "Remy Awards."
The magic number?
How about 2012.
Meanwhile, 2011 is a best-of-two between the 89-71 Red Sox and the 89-71 Tampa Bay Rays. It took Boston just 26 days in September to blow a nine-game lead in the wild card. When do we get to serve our divorce papers on John Lackey? We'll let him keep custody of Carl Crawford and J.D. Drew if he agrees to leave town.
You want a turning point this season? I've got 71 of them. This isn't "sabermetrics." Every single loss in April, May, or June has meant as much as every loss in July, August, and September. Why do some people think games after Labor Day somehow carry more mathematical weight than those before Mother's Day? I'd trade all the renditions of "Sweet Caroline," every hug from Wally, each 100th anniversary brick, the NESN baby and this Kevin Youkilis doll ($21.99 plus tax) for two more wins over the past 160 games and seven innings from Josh Beckett.
Look back no further than the bottom of the 6th inning Monday night to see 2011 in mircocapsule form. Beckett goes to a pair of two-out, two-strike counts against the 92-loss Baltimore Orioles in a 2-2 tie. Robert Andino's drive to center is almost caught (ala Willie Mays) by Ellsbury before he and the ball crash into the wall. The third out becomes a 3-run inside-the-park homer. To add emphasis, the Sox leave the bases loaded in the 7th and 8th before closing it out with the tying run at the plate in the 9th. Sox lose, 6-3.
I've run out of things to throw at the television. Our progression through the “Five Stages of Grief” took a giant step past “denial” and “anger” and toward “bargaining” and “depression.” “Acceptance” remains off in the distance. When the Rays play host to the Faux Yankees with a chance to clinch a tie for the wild card tonight, they'll start Rookie of the Year candidate Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.90) - who has as many wins as Beckett and a lower ERA than Lester. Don't be surprised if Tommy John tosses out the ceremonial first pitch and then throws five innings for the visitors. Your Red Sox, their management and that $163 million payroll (who have the same chance to clinch a wild card tie) counter with Bedard (5-9 overall), a guy Baltimore traded three years ago. Where's Matt Clement when you need him? Caution, Boy Genius at Work.
When the Rays signed Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez in the offseason, who knew they'd come this close to re-creating 2004?
And make the Red Sox look like idiots it in the process.
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