Friday, October 5, 2012

The Party's (Finally!) Over: Saying Goodbye To The 2012 Red Sox

Red Sox logo (via Wikipedia)
While Major League Baseball’s best ready for the one-game playoffs that start today, Red Sox Nation says farewell to the 2012 season, and you know that expression about not letting the door hit you on the way out.

So, how to sum up the 2012 Red Sox season? First, I defer briefly to Woody Allen:

“Summing up…I wish I had some sort of positive message to leave you with. I don’t. Would you take 2 negative messages?”

OK, I will try to be a tad brighter in my outlook than that, but it is safe to say that a fan base hasn’t been this let down by the thing they love since George Lucas released the Star Wars prequels.  And as a new character, the just-fired, one-year-and-out manager Bobby Valentine proved to be about as popular as Jar Jar Binks. But it wasn’t all Bobby V’s fault that the Red Sox had their worst season since 1965. There were an absurd amount of injuries…a record 56 roster players used as a result…and a squad of B-level players and rookies playing out the string after the big salary shed that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the LA Dodgers.

But those factors don’t excuse the 9 run lead they coughed up to the Yankees in a loss in April, or the roll-over-and-play-dead 0-8 home stretch when they could have played spoiler for any number of teams playoff aspirations...the Yankees chief among them. If the Red Sox historic collapse last September was a scary horror film, this year’s long, slow slog to the AL East basement was a joyless installment of a once-frightening horror series cynically grasping to put a few extra butts in the seats…think Friday the 13th Part 9 in 3-D.

This brings us to the future, and its link to the past. The media in Boston were merciless in calling the celebration of past stars at Fenway’s final home game a distraction for the failures of 2012, but I disagree. I will never tire, for example, of recalling the glory of the 2004 season. You could put it on a loop and make me watch it Clockwork Orange style and I’d still love it. So when the Red Sox contemplate next year’s roster, the last link to that 2004 team…and the one who had the biggest hand in breaking the 86-year world title doubt - David Ortiz - must be back in the fold. If those celebrations of past Red Sox greats are really not a distraction, but a reminder that we do have an emotional connection to the players who provide us with life-long memories, then Big Papi needs to finish his career in a Red Sox uniform. It would show the fans that the loyalty they have shown in recent years isn’t taken for granted, and that the best of the past can sometimes be our greatest springboard to a brighter future.

Mitch Wertlieb

1 comment:

  1. This year should completely dispel the notion that a large payroll buys pennants. The Red Sox are the first example in this, at the third highest payroll in baseball, finishing 24 games out of first. One can not blame injuries alone for this, as the Yankees have seen most of their payroll on the disabled list for much of the season.

    At second to lowest payroll, you have the Oakland A's, who have had an outstanding -- magical -- year. (And as a true baseball fan, I say "magic" as a term of respect, not a flippant euphemism for "fluke.")

    Also on the bottom half of the payroll rankings: Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves.

    At the top half of the list: Phillies, Marlins, Los Angeles.

    You see my point. It is not payroll that buys pennants, but heart. Heart, and playing every out, of every inning, of every game.

    Full disclosure: I am a die hard Yankees fan (and yes, I grew up in Vermont, in the 80s -- not a great time, or place, to be a proud Yanks fan). I never expected the Yankees to get as far as they did this season. I am not overly confident going into the post season, either. I believe there is a finite limit to the amount of time any team can live and die by the home run, as we have this season. But I must admit, I missed the Red Sox this season. I sincerely hope that the Bosox cancer has been excised both in the form of toxic players and most of all management, so we can get back to that wonderful rivalry between Boston and New York. I look forward to a truly competitive Red Sox next year, even if it is a "rebuilding year."

    But let none of us ever fool ourselves again: big paychecks will never outplay big heart. Not in this game.

    -Chris Pyatak


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