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Eric Wilbur's Sports Blog

How to Lose Seven Pounds and Other Excuses From the 2014 Red Sox Handbook

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Hey kids, it’s time to spin the “Red Sox Wheel of Excuses.”

Car doors! The code! Unprecedented weight loss!

For the love of dogs eating homework everywhere, these Red Sox have more excuses than my high school girlfriend ever had on a Friday night. If indeed there’s definitely any fun remaining in this drab season, it’s the daily anticipation of finding out what else is at fault this time, with umpires, the time of day, weather, travel – you name it – in the crosshairs of whatever it takes to defend the players' ineptitude or stupidity.

I have to admit, Felix Doubront using bumping his shoulder into the car door as the reason why he had to go on the disabled list was one of the better excuses we’ve heard in these parts since Paxton Crawford once “fell” out of bed and onto a glass that happened to be perfectly placed on the floor below. But Red Sox manager John Farrell blew the doors off that one on Tuesday in describing Clay Buchholz’s struggles against the Atlanta Braves on Monday at Turner Field, where the blazing heat reached all of – 84 degrees. Those are borderline coal-mining conditions.

“He lost seven pounds yesterday which for Clay is almost unheard of,” Farrell said after Buchholz walked eight batters in only three innings of work. “It’s different than the weather we’ve been involved in.

“That’s not going to be used as an excuse.”

Well, if not, Buchholz took care of that himself anyway, when he admitted that he was winded after having to run to first following his third-inning single on Monday.

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“I don’t think I was ready for the heat,” Buchholz said. “I think the heat got to me a little bit today. That’s about what I got right now.”

Yup, that’s about all he’s got right now. Come back tomorrow for something new.

Excuse-making and Buchholz have gone hand-in-hand ever since Terry Francona managed the kid. It’s bewildering to note that he’s still trying to sell the fact that the injury that sidelined him last season – one we’re supposed to be believe sprouted from him sleeping the wrong way with his young daughter – is contributing to a useless season in which he’s gone 2-4 with a 7.02 ERA. Now, after maintaining that he’s been healthy – just admittedly awful – the Red Sox have conveniently let on that Buchholz may have hyper extended his knee during his daring dash to first in Atlanta. That would allow a trip to the disabled list, far away from a major league mound, which is Boston’s ultimate goal at this point.

But it goes beyond Buchholz. On Sunday, Red Sox players made themselves out to be the ultimate frauds when Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar took third base on defensive indifference with Tampa up by five runs in the seventh inning. Players in the Sox dugout got upset that Escobar would “break the code” of baseball. Phone booth Jonny Gomes even made it an excuse to trot in from left and put on his tough guy act.

After all, what team would ever blow a five-run lead? Oops, that would be the Red Sox, one day earlier, when Jake Peavy vomited on himself at Tropicana Field.

Oops, that would be the Atlanta Braves, a day after the incident, when the Red Sox -breaking the code - stormed back from a five-run deficit to win for the first time in 11 tries.

Oh, and as Rays manager Joe Maddon pointed out after the game, the swipe “wasn’t as egregious as last year in the playoffs when they [Red Sox] had an 8-2 lead in the eighth inning, [Jacoby] Ellsbury led off with a single and stole second base, beating us, 12-2. I think that was a little bit more egregious than their interpretation [Sunday].

“I didn’t take any exception when they tried to score on us last year because our goal is to not let them score a run. The whole game. Apparently, some of the guys on their bench did not like that.

“I really wish they would roll back the tape and look at that more specifically. You have to keep your personal vendettas, your personal prejudice, your personal judgment components, in the back of your pocket. So before you start screaming regarding any of that, understand what happened just last year and also understand that in this ballpark five-run leads can evaporate quickly.”

Et tu, Red Sox?

No matter. The Red Sox will simply pardon their actions as a team-bonding episode, one that has led to two straight wins after dropping 10 in a row, the longest streak for the franchise in two decades. They’re still boldly working on the one for excuse-making.

Injuries! He’s not my personal catcher! Young kids!

Give it a whirl. Keep in mind, if you land the picture of Wade Boggs’ cowboy boots, you get to spin again.


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