< Back to front page Text size +

Splat

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  September 29, 2011 09:39 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

henry.jpg


That's Red Sox owner John Henry's Tweet in the days just before his club inked outfielder Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million contract, this despite the fact that Crawford's career numbers at Fenway Park were quite pedestrian ( .275 average, .301 OBP, .708 OPS) and there didn't really seem to be a natural fit for him in the lineup, a factor that plagued manager Terry Francona for 162 games. 

But boy, there was buzz. And wouldn't you know it, tickets just happened to go on sale that week. Crawford even wore a Liverpool tie to his introductory press conference that day. You know, because the brands are separate, and Red Sox fans are too dumb to understand how Fenway Sports Group works.

The sellout streak would be intact. Ratings would skyrocket as fans tuned in to see the Best Team Ever.

Splash.

Hours ago, Red Sox fans watched in agony as Crawford dropped a line drive off the bat of Robert Andino, the second time in three nights that a ball hit by the Great Andino had magically squirmed its way out of a Boston outfielder's grasp.

Orioles 4, Red Sox 3.

Minutes later, Rays 8, Yankees 7.

Splat.

The greatest collapse in Boston sports history is now complete. Good riddance. 

If the Red Sox manage to actually win a playoff game in 2012, it will be the first in four seasons, already one-quarter of the winless period that plagued the franchise from 1986-98. Meanwhile, the team is handcuffed with ludicrous contracts awarded to Crawford and Lackey, all in the name of...what? Buzz? Heck of a way to build a winner. 

Doing everything realistically to win every year involves more than opening up a checkbook and signing whatever name is liable to boost ticket sales. Clearly, that was what the Red Sox were hoping for with Crawford. What's good for the brand is good for the portfolio, after all. Now about that left-striker...

The fact that it was Crawford dropping that ball last night provided the perfect parallel to all that is wrong with this team. John Henry and the baseball ops team, including digital darling Carmine, are so hell-bent on stats and mathematical formulas that they're increasingly ignoring what is was that made them champions in 2004 and '07.

Call it a cliché of heart or character, whatever, but this team didn't have it. I'm not talking about the need for a constant rah-rah guy, but the absence of someone aside from Dustin Pedroia with an edge was staggering. Adrian Gonzalez had an MVP-type year, but after last night's disaster in Baltimore, he clearly proved that he doesn't get it.

"God has a plan," he said after his team finished short of the wild card berth. "And it wasn't God's plan for us to be in the playoffs."

Ho-hum. You can take the kid out of San Diego, but you apparently can't take the San Diego out of the kid. 

Where's the accountability? Where's the anger and frustration, traits we saw zero of in this inexcusable September?

Let's put it this way: If this team, completely healthy, was down 3-0 to the Yankees, you think they come back and win the series?

No. Way.

Yes, John Henry and Theo Epstein worked tirelessly to present Red Sox fans the best team on paper, one devoid of little soul or depth. Tony Massarotti made a great point the other day as it pertains to the Sox' ineptitude in the free agent market and how it drastically contrasts to how well they draft. You still need scouts to do the latter. You still need eyes and human assessment at the high school and college levels. Carmine can't spit out how a 17-year-old kid projects at age 25.

Have the Red Sox become too obsessed about the numbers and lost focus of the human element? Maybe. But even Carmine should have projected Lackey as a disaster waiting to happen.

Maybe it's just a semblance of grit that's lacking. Kevin Millar had it. Bill Mueller had it. Curt Schilling, Johnny Damon, and Tim Wakefield all had it. Who aside from Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis has it here? It's a team filled with unwarranted egos fueled in many ways by the manager. Heck, as his team was preparing for its biggest game of the season, Wakefield was talking about how he'd want to come back in 2012. "I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record."

No, the fans deserved to not have to watch this team act like a bunch of unworthy choke-artists. The fans deserve to not be the target of a constant sell. The fans deserve to not be lied to about sellout streaks and "legalized" scalping.

The Red Sox deserve this. They whimpered and whined their way through pivotal points of the 2011 season, and now have the ultimate comeuppance. Failure.

Complete and utter failure.

"Great organization through and through."

All through, all right.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

 

About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

archives

Browse this blog

by category