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Forever 500

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  June 11, 2012 09:48 AM

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More days in last place...

This is getting a bit ridiculous. Just when it seemed the 2012 Red Sox had turned some sort of competent corner, they're right back where they've been most of this season, beneath .500 and, of course, in last place in the AL East.

Seems like just yesterday Bobby Valentine proclaimed this team was going to win a championship.

The latest debacle at the ol' 745 club (no grape juice toast?) came over the weekend when the Sons of Les Expos invaded the Fens and laid a three-game beatdown that left manager and players whining about not getting the calls at the plate.

That's it. Umpiring. That's been the problem.

For the first day all season, the Sox had the undivided attention of Boston sports fans, who had their basketball hearts snatched from them Saturday night. Until the Patriots hit training camp, this is it. This team. These Red Sox, increasingly maddening, whiny, and ill-prepared.

A year ago today the Red Sox were 37-26, in first place with a two-game lead on the Yankees. With John Lackey.

Today, 29-31. Last place.

Still.

Those darned umps.

"The whole ball is on the plate and he calls a ball, and the guy gets an RBI," Valentine said. "I've got guys battling their butts off and it's not right. Good umpires had a real bad series this series, a real bad series. And it went one way. There should be a review."

There's a lot of baseball left, but time is running out. The trading deadline is somehow already only seven weeks away, and Ben Cherington and crew will need to make decisions about whether the team is going to be buyers or sellers. Sure, Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury should be back any day now ... or not ... but the bats have hardly been the problem. The Sox have the second-worst staff ERA in the American League, and the pitching staff just added Daisuke Matsuzaka. Holy ...

Jon Lester is clearly a shell of himself, though it wasn't all his fault yesterday. Umpiring, you know. Only Kansas City and Minnesota have worse starting staff ERA's. Boston is in the middle of the pack when it comes to reliever ERA. In reality, it's not either particular facet that is the reason the Sox are mired in last place. Every day they find a new way to lose, having hit rock bottom so many times this season they'll soon be digging for oil.

Today is one more of those bottom of the barrel moments for this team. Maybe they'll snap out of it. Maybe this is just who they are. The best they've been all season long is a mere two games above .500. Now, they are right back in familiar territory.

Below .500. Last place.

If they're looking for their moment to shine, they'd better do it and do it quickly. Otherwise they'll look a whole lot different on Aug. 1.

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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.

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