The headline in the Boston Globe Thursday was priceless–“Dead Sox.” It was just as good as anything from the New York Post (my favorite being “A-Roid”). The Red Sox had gone from being first-place bullies at the end of August to third-place chumps with no postseason at the end of September. Boston sportswriters are calling it The Collapse. And what a collapse, definitely one for the record books.
It all came down to the last game of the season. Should it surprise anyone how it all went down? Sox up 3–2 in the middle of a rain delay in Boston. Rays down by 7 runs against the Yankees. By the time the Sox start playing again, Tampa is back in it. Bottom of the ninth, Red Sox closer blows the save and Baltimore wins. Now the Sox need Tampa to lose to get to a one-game playoff for the wild card spot. Minutes after the Sox walk into the clubhouse, Tampa’s Evan Longoria smacks a home run to beat the Yankees. Tampa wins the Wild Card! I have never been so happy to see the Yankees lose. (One might complain about how the Yankees let Tampa back into it, but by the last third of the game, Girardi was just putting JV guys out there to rest his starters. The Yanks were rightfully already focused on the postseason schedule.)
Who takes responsibility for The Collapse? Who gets the blame? According to Adrian Gonzalez, it was not “in God’s plan” for the Sox to go on to the postseason. What? Really, dude? You’re going to put the blame on God?!?! Not the comment that you want to hear from your franchise first-baseman. Apparently with their defeat falling on Rosh Hoshana, the Sox were not inscribed in the book of Playoff Life this time around.
Yet, even though all of Boston was fed up with the Sox players and their attitude, it was still assumed that they would slink into the wild card spot. A day after they were eliminated from the postseason, I saw a Boston bus with an ad for MLB postseason games on TBS with pictures of Ortiz and Papelbon on it. Ooops. Red Sox defeat Truman. Maybe they can alter the images to have these two Boston stars in their sweats watching the postseason on TV with the channel tuned to TBS.
And to make matters even uglier, manager Terry Francona gets the boot. Oh, sure, he’ll say that it was his choice to leave this dysfunctional team, but Red Sox management is full of puppetmasters with as many spins as a gyroball. Francona was here for 8 years and brought two World Series rings to the club, but this one miserable season cost him his job. When your record is 7–20 in the month of September, when you haven’t won two games in a row since late August, when you can’t win against the worst team in baseball to clinch a playoff spot, when you’ve got players blaming injuries and God for the collapse… well, then it’s time to order the casket. RIP, 2011 Red Sox, clearly not the Best Team Ever.
It gets late early out there.