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We have a new contributor debuting today. His name is Jerry Ballgame and he’s an old school Red Sox fan. Despite my personal loyalties, I felt Jobu’s Rum needed the Boston fan’s perspective too! Welcome Jerry Ballgame!

If ever there was a time that the two most overused Yogi Berra-isms were appropriate, it is now. As clichéd as they maybe, they seem to fit this team perfectly. Thanks to Yogi, we now know when things are over, and that present events can be eerily similar to past events. This was hardly the first time Red Sox fans thought things were all over but for the uncorking of the bubbly, only to see things unravel in an embarrassing manner (Hello, Bucky Dent, ’86 World Series, ’03 Playoffs).

For us older fans, (I actually saw Ted Williams play) this smacks of the days when Boston was thought of as a country club, where overpaid players seemed entitled, and often failed to put the importance of the team ahead of their own stats. What feels like a return to those times makes me think that there is a Joe Hardy type Sox fan somewhere who sold his soul to the devil back in ’04, in exchange for breaking “The Curse”, and now payment has come due.  One wonders if he is languishing in the fires of hell, or stuck in front of a television watching replays of game 162.

Oh, we were tricked there for a while into thinking that Theo actually knew what he was doing, and that he possessed insights into the game that only Billy Beane had. What a bold move trading Nomar, and bringing in players like Orlando Cabrera and others who could actually play defense. When the Sox won again in 2007, we were convinced that we were a smarter version of the Yankees. Of course, this ignores the fact that much of the success of that team was built on the blueprint of former GM Dan Duquette, and only adjusted by Theo. The most significant addition to the ’07 team, Josh Beckett, was actually made in Theo’s absence, during his contract dispute with the ownership.

Although Manager Tito Francona got the Axe, was GM Theo Epstein more to blame?

One has to believe that the Sox failure of the past several seasons is at least in part an indictment of the principles of “Moneyball”. There is a real feel here that players were signed for their stats without enough thought to their fit. It’s a tribute to Terry Francona that he was able to blend and control the team for as long as he did. J.D. Drew, John Lackey, and Carl Crawford jump to mind as players that are questionable fits. In Crawford, you might just not have a big market performer, but in Lackey… who signs a fly ball pitcher in Fenway Park? The fact that he does not seem to be a person of character (divorcing your cancer stricken wife) has added to the chaos.

There are other questions. Is Adrián González a big market guy? Complaining about too many Sunday night games? And who let him and his surgically repaired shoulder participate in the Home Run Derby? How do you have a “captain” who doesn’t play, and is off making wedding plans in the middle of the worse finish in team history.

It’s driving a great many Red Sox fans crazy to see players such as Adrián Beltré and Víctor Martínez have strong seasons and leading their teams into the playoffs. Martínez is a double whammy of sorts, as the Sox gave up a strong pitching prospect in Justin Masterson in exchange for him. Think maybe Masterson would have been helpful in September? The irony of Kelly Shoppach’s success in the early playoffs has not been missed. He was traded by the Red Sox to Cleveland for Coco Crisp, because Theo thought Crisp would be more productive than Johnny Damon. Now granted, Jacoby Ellsbury eventually worked out well in center, but Damon has clearly continued to be a winner pretty much every where he’s gone.

High priced free agents like Carl Crawford and Adrián González weren’t enough in 2011.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the last few weeks of the season was the failure of key veterans to perform up to expectations. Beckett, Lester, Papelbon, Bard, Lackey, and Wakefield all had absolutely terrible outings over that stretch. Ortiz and González seem to hit into one rally killing double play after another. Crawford sat out because he had a “stiff neck.” It certainly would have been helpful to have had a healthy Kevin Youkilis, but that raises even more questions about the basic fitness of the team.

There are a great many questions facing the Red Sox for next year, starting from the top, specifically with Theo. Although I believe Tito is taking the fall for what were Theo’s failures, his moving on was probably not a bad thing for him. Being a players’ manager in this day and age is a lot like herding cats, you only get them to go in the same directions if they are all hungry.

Apparently the Red Sox were not all that hungry.

Saltalamacchia image courtesy of: Patrick Semansky, Associated Press
Crawford image courtesy of: John Grieshop/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Francona & Epstein image courtesy of: Elise Amendola/AP

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.

5 thoughts on “Red Sox ’11: Who Cursed Them This Time?

  1. I feel that this year’s team was a huge disappointment for anyone who is a baseball fan let alone a Sox fan, and it doesn’t help when all you need to do is beat the Orioles one more game to win the wild card and you blow it.

    Also the fact that now their gutting the management of this organization shows really how bad things have gotten in Boston, it will be interesting to see who takes over this off season.

  2. interesting article, but i don’t know that wakefield should be put on that list. the guy is 45 and was never THAT good to begin with. do you realize it’s been 8 years since he gave up that boone homer? and people thought he was running out of gas THEN. i think you got out of him what he is. the other guys? bunch of entitled pansies. kevin millar is spinning in his grave right now. hey, at least johnny damon is finally done for the year.

    also, i live in san diego, and i saw gonzalez lead a collapse like this one last year, too. now, he was pretty much the only decent hitter the padres had, so it’s not all on him, but if you thought you were signing someone who’s going to put a team on his shoulders for a few games when that’s needed, um, no.

    1. Agree 100% with everything you said. But also, if you’re Adrian Gonzales, you know that Boston is a high profile team and will play those Sunday night games, guess what….its part of the game! Get used to it!! You don’t see New York complaining about all of those double headers they had to play this year do you? You get paid millions of dollars to play a kids game, man up!!

  3. Also, if there is a network with more of a bias to Boston and it’s teams than ESPN (NESN not included), I’d like to see it… and then shut it down. Maybe that’s why they have them on there so much.

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