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2012 Boston Red Sox: Reality Sinks In

I only briefly watched the Red Sox on Wednesday. I didn’t watch them at all on Thursday and just relied on highlights and a box score to fill me in on the gory details. At this point it’s not even worth getting worked up over, so I don’t. I watch when it’s convenient for me, and if there is something else happening that I’d rather do, I do that.

It’s the final stage in the Kubler-Ross model, the five stages of grief.

Usually reserved for kids who’s parents divorced or something along those lines, it’s a fitting way to judge how fans have reacted to the Red Sox this year. Plus, with how bad it’s been, I’m sure kids in Boston are taking this season worse than a divorce anyway.

And yeah, I realize that there’s still a month and a half left.

Stage 1 – Denial

Our impression: They were 11-11 after April and we all just figured, “Okay, the first month is in the books. It’s a long season. We didn’t learn anything from 22 games – and besides, they were 1-5 at one point. They’ve actually played well since then. It’s going to be fine. We’ve got no where to go but up.”

What we should have thought: “Holy you-know-what. This team had the single worst collapse in baseball history last September, got their manager fired and then came out the next season and lost five of their first six games? I don’t care how it goes from here on out, these guys don’t get it. If they did, they would want to make a statement in the early going. The only statement they made was that they were still the same group that couldn’t figure out last year.”

Stage 2 – Anger

Our impression: “They lost six of seven going into the all-star break after playing really well for the two weeks before that? Adrian Gonzalez has six home runs? Jon Lester and Josh Beckett are statistically two of the worst pitchers in all of baseball? No one on the team besides David Ortiz has an OBP over .340? Ortiz is injured…

“Carl Crawford needs Tommy John? Jacoby Ellsbury hates everyone? Bobby Valentine is the manager? Larry Lucchino wrote a sickening letter to the fans? Mike Aviles is horrible? Dustin Pedroia is hitting .265? Daniel Nava is an integral piece of the team? Ryan Sweeney still doesn’t have a single home run? Kelly Shoppach is becoming the everyday catcher? Felix Doubront is our ace?

“Is this the biggest mess that baseball has ever seen? Oh my god, I can’t believe that they’re under .500 again. I can’t believe that the BULLPEN COACH doesn’t talk to the manager. This sounds like a movie idea tht would get rejected for being too unrealistic. I’m going to stop going to games, stop watching, root for trades, challenge Ben Cherington to a fight, watch every ESPN game that Terry Francona announces and start aggressively following the Pawtucket Red Sox.


What we should have thought: Well, our impression was actually pretty spot on…

Stage 3 – Bargaining

Our impression: As the trade deadlined approached, “You know what? Maybe they can fix this. Trade Beckett – he’s toxic. Get a legitimate ace on the market. See if you can package Ellsbury and Lester for Felix Hernandez. Yeah, that’ll work. Then fire Bobby Valentine, move Franklin Morales into the rotation, see if Wally the Green Monster can hit cleanup and you know what? It just might work. We’re only 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card. Besides, it can’t possibly get any worse. Let’s make a splash, get some of the bad clubhouse guys out of here and give it a shot. We’re the Red Sox, for Christ’s sake.”

What we should have thought: This thing can’t be fixed quickly or easily. There’s no Band-Aid to put over the problem and provide temporary relief for the rest of the year. It’s a mess, and it’s systemic. It starts at the top with ownership, extends down to management and continues with the players. Trading Josh Beckett will just piss off the rest of the staff, won’t make the team much better and will just force Aaron Cook to make a bunch more starts where he gives up seven runs in 4.1 innings. The only thing that could possibly turn the season around – even though there are still 60-plus games to go, would be to travel back in time, sign everyone from the ’27 Yankees and hope that they don’t mind the alcohol ban in the clubhouse.

Stage 4 – Depression

Our impression: “They were so close to turning the corner. Cody Ross hit that walk-off home run, everyone celebrated, they were right in the hunt and the POOF, it all went away. I can’t even watch Sportscenter because they keep justifiably making fun of the Red Sox and showing highlights of teams who actually know how to play baseball. I can’t turn on the radio because every time I do it’s a debate on whether or not Bobby Valentine should be fired or if Ben Cherington is in over his head. It’s a good thing the Olympics are on and football season in on the horizon, because I’ve been binge-eating and smoking crack for the last three weeks trying to make myself feel better about the fact that a team with a $170 million payroll can’t find a way to beat the Cleveland Indians.

What we should have thought: “It’s one season of baseball, and it’s probably not worth throwing away the rest of my life by resorting to drugs. By the same token, it is understandably depressing. This sort of thing should never happen with the current team, the fan base and the financial resources of the organization. Let’s put in perspective – at least we’re not the Mets. We’ve had a big payroll and at least been competitive until this year. Mets fans must live in the fourth stage.

Stage 5 – Acceptance

Our impression: “The Red Sox are 55-58, 11 games behind the Yankees in the American League East and 5.5 games behind Baltimore and Detroit for the second Wild Card. Including Oakland, which holds the first Wild Card spot, there are five teams ahead of the Red Sox in the Wild Card race.

“The Sox have lost seven of their last nine, and just went 4-6 on a 10-game homestand, which included three losses the woeful Minnesota Twins. After losing conseutive heartbreaking games to the Rangers after that, the Sox lost the opening game of a three-game set with Cleveland, which is 52-60 (and, as it turns out, 2.5 games behind the Sox).

“They still have nine games remaining with the Yankees, and starting on September 7 they will play their final 24 games of the year against AL East opponents. That doesn’t bode well, because the Sox are currently fourth in the East, and are 18-24 against the Yankees, Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays. The Red Sox are not going to make the playoffs this season, and right now it’s hard to see how they can do enough in the off-season to field a contender next year.

“It is what it is.”

What we should have thought: Ditto. The Patriots start on September 9.

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