It is hard to watch. For a team that started out this year with so many expectations, seeing them go 8-20 in a month while knocking out over two-thirds of the starting line up is difficult. Unfortunately, Red Sox fans have had no choice but to suffer through this disaster.
During this collapse of gargantuan proportions, fans of teams that have had difficulty competing have said “Now you know how I feel.”
While it may seem rather arrogant, the problem Red Sox fans are facing is that their team has been one of the best teams in baseball all season. Instead of starting to fold in July, the Sox blossomed. It seemed as though this year would finally be the year when the Sox would top the Yankees and win the division. Who knows? They could have even made the World Series.
The other teams that have been playing slightly as poorly as the Red Sox however, knew that they were not as close to contention as the Yankees, White Sox, and Mets. Did Kansas City think they would finish the season with 95 wins? Of course not.
In addition to their failure to meet expectations, the Red Sox were fairly excited heading into this season. This was the year when the infield took on a total overhaul. Youkilis would finally get a starting position at first base, Lowell was expected to have a break-out season with the Green Monster as a factor in 81 of his games, and Loretta and Gonzalez hoped to come out of the woodwork as good, tough players. Now, Loretta has a pulled quad muscle but is trying to play through it, Youkilis is in left field, and Gonzalez is on the DL.
Coco Crisp came from Cleveland this past winter knowing he had big shoes to fill. After five games, he unfortunately broke his finger, but the Red Sox were so impressed by his play that they signed him to a three year contract extension. Crisp was scratched from today’s game with a sore shoulder, and has been in a slump lately, getting 5 hits in his last 40 at bats.
Add Crisp’s troubles to the fact that Manny Ramirez is suffering from a painful case of patella tendonitis, Trot Nixon is on the DL with a strained right bicep, and Wily Mo Pena’s sore left wrist is starting to look serious, as he was sent home to Boston early with Ramirez and Ortiz.
With the injuries, expectations for this team have not only been dashed, but leave no clear person responsible for the failure. What is Theo supposed to do, supply a backup team in case his gets decimated by the injury bug?
It looks to be the longest winter for Red Sox fans since 2002, the last season in which the Red Sox did not qualify for the playoffs. This coming winter would also be the first time that Theo Epstein has had October to work with, as he has never engineered a team that has not made the playoffs.
Soak in these last few games and hope for the sake of dignity, Varitek can turn this failure around when he returns in the coming days.