Won't forget this feeling... I don't ever want to feel it again.— Will Middlebrooks (@middlebrooks) October 4, 2012
At the end, there was no anger, no joy, no celebration, no relief, no anticipation, no rage after watching them play doormat in the Bronx, no pride, no silver lining, no satisfaction, no contentment knowing you were right all along about this manager, no more laughter, no more tears.
Not even a hangover.
69-93. It's a wrap. Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox were put out of our misery 14-2 Wednesday night. Sadly for the Red Sox, Ben Cherington lost the big debate last fall when he tried to hire five guys before Larry Lucchino pulled rank and rancor.
Chicken and beer? Those were the good old days.
The 2012 Red Sox finished dead-last in the American League East when it came to effort, passion, functionality and wins-and-losses - not to mention 11th in the American League in team ERA, 10th in opponents' batting average and dead-last (14th) in shutouts, It was the pitching, stupid, after all. Dice-K closed his career with the Red Sox facing 14 batters and giving up five runs and two runs in just 2.1 innings. His ERA this season, a John Lackey-esque 8.28. The final tally on Dice-K: $881,282 per game pitched or $2,062,200 per win. And the Red Sox spent a combined $184 million for both he and Lackey. Now, my head hurts.
Valentine's exit is just another necessary step in the slow, painful and lengthy - as in we've got two years to go at least - reclamation, renaissance and reconstruction of this franchise. It's been 370 days since the Great Collapse of 2011 ended in flames at Camden Yards. But the only real long-term progress the Red Sox have made since Robert Andino's low liner slipped under Carl Crawford's glove a year ago Sept. 29 took place with the quarter-billion dollar salary dump involving Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford, along with the carcass of Josh Beckett and the bemused Nick Punto. Other than that, it's been status-woe.
Why was no one east of Pittsfield surprised when Beckett (2-3) and A-Gonz (.296 average, 3 HR in 35 games) failed to step-up and lead the Dodgers to the National League playoffs?
The playoff-bound Oakland A's of "Moneyball" fame will return to the postseason for the first-time in six years as A.L. West champions. Guess Brad Pitt got the last laugh on that dude who looked just like John Henry after all. Oakland trailed Texas in the A.L. West by 13 games on June 30. The A's clinched the division with a 12-5 victory Wednesday afternoon in front of an honest-to-goodness sellout of 36,027. Now the Rangers will face the Orioles in a one-game playoff. That same day, June 30, the Red Sox were 6.5 games out in the A.L. East. A day later, the Red Sox beat Seattle 2-1 in 10 innings and peaked for the season at five games over .500 (42-37). Three months of free-fall followed that surpassed the gravitational pull of Jupiter. The Red Sox closed the season by losing eight straight and 11 of 12. It's their worst finish since 1965 (and noted last week in my case - a lifetime.) Wednesday night's blowout was simply insult added to injury piled on embarrassment spiced with bad pitching.
Not sure how hard State Run Media in Oakland was selling the myth of the second-wild card back in June. No matter, the A's played without pretension, clubhouse antics or a manager (the immortal Bob Melvin) doing radio shows in Los Angeles and threatening to punch talk-show hosts over the phone. In Melvin's defense, he was allowed to clean house with his coaching staff after the A's finished 14 games under .500 in 2011, as opposed to just throwing them under the bus on the radio the last day of the season. Perhaps Melvin invented the cheeseburger and we missed it. Melvin's most notable radio appearance this season came after the 2012 opener in Tokyo when he simply promised the fans that the A's will "work hard every game."
Sounds like another Oakland A's manager who once told the Fenway Faithful "we'll win more than we lose" the same year Yaz won the last pre-Miguel Cabrera Triple Crown. That was also the last season the Red Sox showed a plus-20-game improvement over the number of wins from the year before (not including the strike-shortened seasons of 1981 and '94). The last time the Red Sox saw a 20-plus-game drop in the number of wins and losses was from 1946 (104) to 1947 (83) - that was the same year Ted Williams won his second Triple Crown without being named MVP. So Cabrera won't be the first in that category, either.
The Red Sox were unable to earn a Burger King crown in 2012. And Johnny was booing all season. 2012 was a bottomless pit that Bruce Wayne could not escape. The Red Sox tapped out on in July - specifically during a homestand that saw them get swept by the Blue Jays. For an in-depth blow-by-blow of he season's slow-steady decline, just click here.
Congratulations to the New York ... hell no, not here. We'll remember Wednesday night the when the Patriots beat the Jets 42-7 in in two weeks.
Valentine can always savor the standing ovation he got in the Bronx when he took out Pedro Beato in the sixth. They do love you in New York, Bobby, especially after this season. The Orioles and Yankees plan to vote Valentine, Beckett and Dice-K full playoff shares.
As far as the 2012 Red Sox, there are no survivors to be listed in this obituary. Although Lucchino is amazingly resilient, much like that cockroach living behind your fridge after the next nuclear apocalypse.
Now, there's nothing for the Red Sox and their fans, except a few hundred recriminations from Valentine, a slew of transactions, a reboot of Carmine and another year without a post-season victory. The last time the Red Sox won a playoff game, Barack Obama held a slim lead in the polls over John McCain. There is still not a single player on last night's expanded roster who should be "off-limits" nor is there a championship at its core. The Red Sox possess a baseline of talent, but so do 10 other teams in the American League. The shape and soul of the 2013 Red Sox and the man who will manage them, however, were nowhere to be found at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night.
To help take your mind off the baseball playoffs that have bypassed Boston for the third straight season, join us Sunday at 4 p.m. for our in-game Patriots-Broncos fan chat. As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF.
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