But what about 2-10?
That was the record of the Red Sox during their first 12 games last season. Funny how those first 10 losses counted just as much as the last 10. The 2011 Red Sox left camp in Fort Myers fat, lazy, out of shape and unmotivated. As we learn more and more about the dysfunction in management and the deterioration of Terry Francona's abilities to handle the team and its players, the more Bobby Valentine's presence offers a chance - note word "chance" - to make a difference before the season starts.
Valentine has vowed to make the players actually exercise this year. Given the complete failure of last year's spring training in terms of preparing the team - especially the pitching staff and newcomer Carl Crawford (he hit .155 in April) who completely imploded out of the gate - things can't be any worse this year. Except of course, for a major season-ending injury or Josh Beckett opening up a Popeye's behind the left-field wall at JetBlue Field/Yankees.Com Park.
Wonder if they've been serving Humble Pie on that official Red Sox plane that began flying to Fort Myers, given all the contrition, real and imagined, that has been going on this week. David Ortiz was the latest on Wednesday. He's "not a babysitter," which is probably a good thing since the kids would have been taken by Child Protection Services and placed into foster care after those stories got out about them drinking beer during school. And where were all these so-called leadership characteristics last season when the SS Francona was sinking off the East Coast?
Beckett's "mea culpa" was mealy-mouthed. If an athlete who has a $68 million guaranteed contract is having a family-related issue that may affect his play - he owes it to himself and his teammates to take himself out of the lineup (see Kevin Garnett this week) and tend to his family's business. The guy delivering your pizza from Papa Gino's, the cashier at Wal-Mart and the former senior VP now working 30 hours a week in the Lowe's paint department don't have that option.
Once a professional (whether its an athlete, attorney, dentist, electrician or surgeon) chooses to show up for work, you expect a 100-percent effort.
Imagine your doctor saying: "Sorry I botched that heart surgery but my kid was sick and I couldn't focus." Beckett and the rest of the crybabies on this roster can afford to take as much time off as needed to deal with those "personal issues." You can't show up to play, then suck, and then use your family as an excuse. Doesn't cut it. No one wishes ill on anyone, but once you decide to put on the uniform, there are no excuses, just results.
My favorites were Beckett's assertion that he didn't know he gained all that weight (it has something to do with fried food, alcohol and not moving) and his outrage over those who threw him under the bus. Self-denial, meet self-centered and self-pity.
This leads us to one of the silver linings off the Category 5 hurricane that hit at the end of last season - the return of "our father's Red Sox." The wreckage of 2011 leaves us with a fundamental question to answer - who are the "real" Red Sox?
Are they the team that won two World Series and reached the playoffs six times in the first decade of the third millenium? Or are they the underachieving third-place historic chokers of 2011 and years past?
There are a lot of Red Sox fans, myself included, who find some Calvinistic comfort in the later. The upbeat, optimistic, happy-go-lucky, feel-good soul of Red Sox Nation circa. 2004 could not have been sustained over the long haul. Sadly, the Pink Hats, Wally dolls, NESN babies, "Sweet Caroline" singing when the team is losing 8-2 don't appear to be a casualty of 2011 since the team has brought back Doctor of Deception himself. everyone's favorite dentist, Dr. Charles Steinberg, While Steinberg is great at what he does, his presence means the team will continue to do what he does, in an effort to distract us from what might be happening on the field or in the AL East standings.
Progress has been made. Jon Lester seems sincere in his path to redemption. Dustin Pedroia hasn't changed. The real Texas tough guy on this team - that would be the Houston-born Crawford - is an actual athlete and looks more physically fit injured than a healthy Beckett ever will. He may have only hit .255 last season, but at least he doesn't have a gut. The Patriots could have used him as a deep threat (bad wrist and all) in the second half against the Giants. And Crawford is so upset with John Henry that he only plans on taking $20 million from him this season.
Crawford can always pinch-run with the bad wrist, just slide feet first or reach with the right one. He and Ortiz actually said the words "chicken" and "beer" (no mention of steak) and the new ballpark, no matter where you end up on the internet, is stunning. Jason Varitek's retirement is the next logical step.
And if the Sox get off to 3-9 start, we might be on to something.
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