We’ve been accused in this space of being overly negative and blatantly attacking the Red Sox at every turn during this baseball season, which mercifully ended for Boston with a 14-2 loss to the Yankees last night in the Bronx. If you took the temperature of some of the comments made below and on Twitter, you’d have to even wonder how a certain segment of the population could even type with a foam finger on one hand, and a bottle of fairy tale juice in the other.
So, we’re going to take a turn here and satisfy the lollipop and gumdrop crowd by breaking down all the neato things that went right for the last-place Red Sox in 2012….
Um, Cody Ross was friendly.
OK, so Will Middlebrooks emerged – then got hurt, Ross was a pleasant surprise, and fans still have pride in the sellout streak, at least according to the two-headed, double-speak team of Larry Lucchino and Padawan Sam Kennedy. And how can we forget the plaques? Fenway has more than any other park in the majors.
Other than that, the most genuine moment at Fenway Park this season was when Kevin Youkilis left the field the final time in a Red Sox uniform to a standing ovation on the verge of being dealt to the White Sox.
Then the Red Sox went and shamelessly touted his return with Chicago in ticket sale promotions.
I don’t blame Bobby Valentine for the worst Red Sox season in a generation. What baseball lifer wouldn’t be jumping like a Chihuahua if Lucchino were teasing him with the biscuit of managing in the big leagues again? Unfortunately for the ballroom dancing champion of the Nutmeg State, he goes down as the worst managerial decision in the history of Boston sports thanks to a front office more obsessed with its own drama and public relations than actually building a competitive baseball team.
In Valentine, the Red Sox had a diversion, a bumbling, egomaniacal presence that was hired to take the attention off the lacking on-field product. There was no way the Red Sox were going to compete for a playoff spot this season, not with an apathetic Josh Beckett, a cribbage-wounded Dustin Pedroia, and the ultimate laissez-faire “franchise” player in Adrian Gonzalez leading the charge. It was a team with little accountability or responsibility for what unfolded last September. “People have to eat, whether it’s chicken or steak…,” Gonzalez infamously uttered during spring training to questions about chicken and beer in the clubhouse, example No. 456 that he just didn’t get it and never will.
The reason fried chicken, bricks, and 100 years of Fenway jokes have become somewhat clichés is because they’re all so ridiculous, and sum up the sorry state of this franchise, one that has gone from World Series darling to the most despised team in New England in the matter of five years. Lifelong Red Sox fans rooting for the team to lose in order to – hopefully – restore some semblance of a long-term plan instead of tossing money at the problem so that ticket sales – and wandering eyes from Liverpool – don’t falter is the second- sorriest state of affairs I’ve witnessed in Boston sports aside from the Rod Rust-Dick MacPherson era. I don’t take glee in that. It’s depressing.
To put any sort of happy spin on what’s happened on Yawkey Way is a disservice. Nothing has gone according to plan over the past few years because; guess what, there was no plan. It’s a sell job from beginning to end, with Ben Cherington and Carmine reduced to delivering TPS reports. If Lucchino does the right thing and lets Cherington have control, then bravo. The Red Sox GM has proven he’s a solid talent evaluator at the minor league level, if not exactly quite seasoned at the major league level. But it’ll be fun to watch Josh Reddick in the ALCS, no? You too, Coco. And Brandon Moss. And George Kotteras.
So we wait and see how this can rectified, no easy task. We wait and see if the Red Sox make a run at Josh Hamilton, which will prove it is business as usual. We wait and see if John Henry’s all-too-boisterous denials that the team was not up for sale turn out to be nothing more than yet another falsehood preached from the top perch of Fenway Sports Group.
But in the spirit of being positive, here’s a tour of the plaques.