Bill Foley (@Foles74) Contributing Writer Would the Red Sox be better off with
an actual panda playing third base?
Jesse Johnson, USA Today Sports
Is it possible that Mike Napoli was
out by more than 90 feet on that play at the plate? Does DirecTV offer a partial refund
for MLB Extra Innings if your team is mathematically eliminated from the
playoffs before the end of June?
Is John Farrell trying to kill us?
Can a baseball manager actually be charged with involuntary manslaughter if a
fan dies of a heart attack, stroke or aneurism while screaming at his team
through the television?
Those are some of the my puzzling
questions left after watching the Red Sox bottom out yet again Thursday. Boston
blew a 4-0 lead and lost 8-4 in a game that looked like beginning part of a Bad News Bears sequel.
The only thing missing is Tanner
Boyle repeatedly slamming his mitt to the ground.
The 2015 Red Sox don’t just lose.
They punch their fans in the gut.
Right now the prospect of being five
or six games out of first place seems as insurmountable as a 2-0 deficit in the
first inning has been for the Sons of John Farrell.
If they need to hear us say it, then
we’re crying it like Schwartz when Scut Farkus was twisting his arm. Uncle.
We’re at the point in the movie
where the comedy of errors is starting to go over the top. It’s time for the
team start to somewhat resemble a baseball team.
As bad as Thursday’s loss was, it is
still possible for us to feel a little better about our team. There is still
reason for us to not give up. As Lloyd Christmas would say, you’re telling me
there’s a chance.
There were signs in Tuesday’s win.
There were more signs when Eduardo Rodriguez looked like a star again on
Wednesday. Clay Buchholz has also pitched much
like the Clay Buchholz at the start of 2013. (Disclaimer, it is never a good
idea to get too excited for the incredible tease that is Clay Buchholz.) Wade Miley and Rick Porcello have
had solid outings recently, Steven Wright has proven to be a reliable,
sometimes remarkable starter, and it doesn’t appear that Justin Masterson will
be rejoining the rotation anytime soon. David Ortiz looks like he found his
swing, as has Napoli. Xander Bogaerts is busting out. Blake Swihart is here to
stay. Mookie Betts looks more relaxed now that he has been dropped in the
order. Hanley Ramirez has hit the ball hard
as of late, appearing to be closer to healthy after the crash into the wall.
Plus, there were a couple of plays Thursday where he didn’t look half bad in
Sandoval has never been spectacular
in the regular season. He’s money when the season is on the line in October,
though. If the Red Sox ever play in October during the life of his contract,
that is a good thing.
It wasn’t an aggressive call by
Brian Butterfield that got Napoli thrown out by a mile, it was a brain cramp.
Still, Butterfield’s aggressiveness as the third base coach has been one of the
highlights of the season.
That will win more games than it
loses. So will the Red Sox — seriously — if
Dustin Pedroia keeps playing like an MVP.
Looking for one more positive sign
for the Red Sox? Turn the clock back 11 years.
Sure, the 2012 and 2014 Red Sox
stunk, and there was really no hope from the start. Perhaps the most
frustrating team to watch throughout the entire season this century was the
2004 Red Sox. Remember the many horrible losses they had?
Remember the games they gave away
that we thought they could never get back?
Who can forget the night when Nomar
Garciaparra sulked and Derek Jeter dove into the stands in the Bronx? Or Brett
Boone’s walk-off grand slam in Seattle? Or the loss to the Yankees the night
before Jason Varitek beat up Alex Rodriguez?
People like me were calling Terry
Francona “Francoma,” and we were demanding he be fired. Mark Belhorn was darn
near booed out of town before his October revival. Trot Nixon kept getting
injured whenever he seemed to be coming on. Manny Ramirez was playing defense
like Hanley Ramirez, Derek Lowe was slipping, and Pedro Martinez wasn’t quite
Pedro any more.
But Manny was raking, Ortiz was in
his prime, Johnny Damon was setting the plate and Varitek was hitting almost
.300. There were so many reasons for the team to be great, yet it spun its
wheels in the sand until August.
The frustration was so hard to take
because every time the team took a step forward it took two steps back and to
Granted, the lows of this year’s
teams have been brutal. But it felt pretty brutal at times in 2004, too.
Then the Red Sox came together and played
an August for the ages. Then they gave us all a Hollywood ending.
Will that happen to this team?
These Red Sox aren’t even in the
same league as the Idiots of ’04, but neither is the rest of the AL East. A
team could possible win this division with 84 wins.
It won’t take a Hollywood ending for
the Red Sox of 2015 to win that many games.
But if they’re going to do it, it’s
time to turn the page on the script because this story is certainly getting