Red Sox fans will be happy to see 2011 end.
The Greatest Team Ever finished in third place and were such a bunch of clods that manager Terry Francona called them out in public before quitting.
Then general manager Theo Epstein fled the premises, covering his tracks by saying it was his plan all along to leave his hometown, family and friends behind to go work for … the Cubs?
The brain trust sprang into action, taking two months to hire a manager after telling their new GM he had no money to spend.
The good news is 2012 is upon us. Here’s what to expect:
Jan. 2: Red Sox announce 10-year, $250 million deal for Prince Fielder to play right field. “What, you really thought we were out of money?” GM Ben Cherington said. “Have you seen how many tourists line up to pay $12 for those Fenway Park tours?”
Jan. 21: Red Sox and Cubs finalize compensation for Epstein. In lieu of any players going to Boston, he will personally call every season ticket holder and apologize for signing John Lackey.
Feb. 11: Truck Day is canceled. Get-a-lifers are asked to go about their business rather than stand on a side street in the cold and watch a rented truck get loaded with baseball equipment. “If you really find that exciting, go hang around the loading docks at Dick’s Sporting Goods,” chief operating officer Sam Kennedy said in a statement.
Feb. 19: Pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Josh Beckett agrees to talk to Bobby Valentine, but only on Tuesdays from 2-2:15 p.m.
March 3: Red Sox defeat Northeastern 10-0 as Carl Crawford hits three home runs and steals two bases. Reveals afterward that one of Tampa Bay’s six fans, an 86-year-old palm reader from Pinellas Park, had put a curse on him last year.
April 5: Sox beat Detroit 1-0 as Jacoby Ellsbury homers in ninth inning to beat Justin Verlander. Scott Boras says Ellsbury is agreeable to a contract extension of 12 years and $300 million along with 12 percent of all Mass Pike revenue.
April 20: Red Sox beat Yankees 4-3. Alex Rodriguez, hitless so far on the season, flies to China with his cousin after the game to have an experimental treatment on his sore knee suggested by Lakers star Metta World Peace. “Hopefully he’ll be back soon,” GM Brian Cashman says. “OK, I’m lying.”
May 10: New NESN sideline reporter Mila Kunis leaves the network to return to Hollywood. Heidi Watney makes her triumphant return.
May 13: Liverpool loses its final match of the season to Swansea City and is eliminated from the English Premier League playoffs.
May 14: The Liverpool Echo newspaper reveals that manager Kenny Dalglish lost control of the Reds during the season. Players were eating pork pies during games while drinking Guinness. “This is all news to me,” says John Henry. “We’ll look into it.”
May 19: Red Sox beat Phillies 2-1 when Jonathan Papelbon hits Kelly Shoppach with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. The closer says later he doesn’t like pitching in Philadelphia. “The cops here won’t fist-bump me when I come out of the bullpen,” he says. “They’re too busy arresting fans.”
June 3: Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona is suspended by ESPN for week after cursing six times in one sentence then spitting a wad of bubble gum and tobacco on the foot of Linda Cohn, ruining her Jimmy Choos. “Aw (bleep), I’m (bleeping) sorry,” Francona says.
June 17: Red Sox complete three-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field as Prince Fielder drives in 12 runs. Those Cubs fans still sober enough to run chase Epstein down West Addison Street. “But Hoyer is the GM,” he yells.
June 30: Bobby Valentine takes a leave of absence to run the International Monetary Fund and prevent the collapse of the European economy. Tim Bogar becomes interim manager.
July 12: With the All-Star break over, Daisuke Matsuzaka is asked how close he is to returning to the team. “It should be any month now,” he says through a translator. “I’m ready to look at the mound and think about pitching.”
July 16: Red Sox announce that “Sweet Caroline” has been scrapped in favor of “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot. Angry Pink Hats vow to protest at halftime before somebody reminds them there is no halftime in baseball.
Aug. 1: Tim Wakefeld appeals to Major League Baseball to allow Boston Park League victories to count toward his career win total.
Aug. 15: Valentine returns, Bogar having led the Red Sox into first place. New Yawkey Way sports bar “Timmy B’s” is the hottest spot in town.
Aug. 21: Adrian Gonzalez hits 30th home run. Gives all the credit to Tim Tebow.
Sept. 7: Jon Lester throws one-hit shutout against the Blue Jays. Between innings, he also beats Beckett and Clay Buchholz in Angry Birds.
Sept. 15: Dustin Pedroia named team captain. Immediately gains respect of teammates by calling time out in the seventh inning, going to the mound and kicking the crap out of Andrew Miller after he walks three batters in a row.
Sept. 30: Red Sox finish September 20-6 with a victory in Baltimore. MVP lock Carl Crawford drives in his 123rd run. Andrew Bailey picks up his 37th save with help from comeback player of the year Bobby Jenks.
Oct. 1: Red Sox clinch pennant with a 4-1 victory at New York. Nick Punto drives in three runs in support of Junichi Tazawa, who records his 15th win. “Who’s methodical now?” crows Cherington in the winning clubhouse.
Oct. 9: Red Sox complete first-round playoff sweep of the Angels. Right fielder Ryan Kalish makes two leaping catches to steal home runs away from Albert Pujols. “I owe it all to the crack Red Sox medical staff,” Kalish says later.
Oct. 18: Red Sox win the pennant with four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers. In his first appearance of the season, John Lackey outduels Yu Darvish. “It’s fun to win for the supportive fans in Boston,” Lackey says.
Nov. 1: Red Sox claim their third World Series in nine years with a seven-game thriller against the surprise New York Mets. Clay Buchholz beats Johan Santana in Game 7 as Valentine tops his old team.
“Can you believe it?” say Joe Castiglione after Bailey gets the final out. “If your windshield is broken in a Kenmore Square riot, call 1-800-54-GIANT.”
Nov. 2: Davis Ortiz tells Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes that he is upset the Red Sox have not offered him a contract for 2013. “I just woke up, give me a second,” Cherington says.
Nov. 3: Matsuzaka announces he’s ready to pitch. He is shocked to learn the season is over.
Nov. 4: Duck Boat parade draws millions of happy fans to Boston. “We’re all proud of the Red Sox. Especially Dustin Youkilis and Jacoby Saltalamacchia,” says Mayor Menino.
So there you have it. Get your tickets now.
Happy New Year, gang. thanks for reading and here’s looking forward to a good 2012 for everybody. I’m on vacation for two weeks starting tomorrow. Nick and the crew will have you covered.