Opening Day, Take 3.
We can only imagine how things might have been different today had Carl Crawford held onto that ball in Baltimore, had Evan Longoria not gone all Joe Carter in Tampa, had the Red Sox eked out just two more wins in what ended up being a disastrous month of April.
For better, or worse, here we are.
The 2012 Red Sox carnival extravaganza opens the season in Detroit today as decided underdogs in their quest for their first playoff berth since 2009. Bobby Valentine is already as polarizing as we all knew he’d be, Josh Beckett has a thumb injury that nobody (remarkably) seems to have any concern about seeing as his history with blisters has led to constant drama, and the closer is in the rotation while the No. 5 starter is in the bullpen as the closer.
Clearly, national writers and broadcasters are none too impressed with the moves Ben Cherington and Co. made in the offseason. Here’s a look at how many picked the Sox to finish 2012. Most do not have Boston finishing any higher than third in the AL East.
Globe staff picks: Peter Abraham has the Sox finishing third, no playoffs. Dan Shaughnessy has them finishing fourth. Michael Vega has Boston in third, no playoffs, and Tony Massarotti has the Sox in second as a wild card team.
Chad Finn, Boston.com: 93 wins, taking the second wild card slot, and eventually losing to the Rangers in the ALCS.
Yahoo! sports: Tim Brown, Steve Henson, and Jeff Passan all have the Red Sox finishing third, none have them securing the second wild card.
ESPN.com staff: Of the dozens of prognosticators, only 16 pick the Sox to make the playoffs. Bobby V buddy Karl Ravech likes them to win the World Series over the Diamondbacks.
Ken Rosenthal, FoxSports.com: Red Sox finish third, do not grab second wild-card berth.
Scott Miller, CBSSports.com: Red Sox finish fourth in the division. Blue Jays finish second.
CBS Sports.com staff: None of the eight experts has Boston finishing higher than third in the division, nor grabbing the second wild card.
Philadelphia Daily News staff: Three of seven like the Red Sox to grab one of the wild card slots.
Tony Demarco NBCSports.com: Sox finish third. Don’t be surprised if it’s fourth.
Jonah Keri, Grantland.com: Red Sox finish third, out of the running for the second wild card slot.
Baseball Prospectus: Red Sox finish second in the division behind the Yankees.
CNNSI.com staff: Albert Chen picks the Sox to win the East, while Ted Keith picks them as the wild card. The other six panelists have them finishing out of the playoffs.
MassLive.com: Six out of 12 staff members think the Sox can make the playoffs. Maybe.
Dan Roche, CBSBostonsports.com: 90-72, same as last year.
CBSBostonsports.com staff: Only two others have them in the playoffs.
It says here: An unproven back of the rotation, a No. 2 starter who’ll deal with some sort of ailment, a bullpen that looks as if it’s retro 2003, Carl Crawford returning from an injury that historically has slowed many careers, the fear there’s a low percentage that Jacoby Ellsbury can duplicate 2011, David Ortiz one year older, a banged-up Kevin Youkilis, and a manager whose penchant for insisting he be the star of the show already starting to wear thin.
Why not? Wild card, 92 wins. Red Sox fall to Angels in the ALCS.