Red Sox lose
- Baseball starts season in south
- Steroid users should be in the Hall
- Baseball slams UMF, takes one from Bowdoin
What just happened? The Baltimore Orioles made fools of the Boston Red Sox while knocking them out of the playoffs, and that’s not even the most surprising part. The Rays overcame a seven-run deficit against the New York Yankees, earning victory and a playoff berth of their own just two minutes after learning about Boston’s fate.
It isn’t hyperbole to call Sept. 28, 2011 one of the worst nights in Major League Baseball history. Of course, calling it “worst” depends strongly on your rooting interest. For me, a die-hard Sox fan from not-quite-Boston-but-still-closer-to-Boston-than-most-of-you-jokahs, it was along the lines of Super Bowl XLII and the death of—though I never saw him play—Len Bias.
There’s no need to recap the Red Sox’ awful month of September—their 7-19 record (2-5 against the Triple-A worthy Orioles), Tampa Bay’s surge, rumors of turmoil in the clubhouse—it’s all been said in this paper and elsewhere.
In moments like these, I must revert to the only thing I know how to do: blame the Yankees. To Colby’s Yankees fans: how can you live with yourselves? Sure, the Yankees earned the right to sit as many of their players as they wanted. I’m fine with that. It’s clear to me, though, that there was at least some “throwing the game” involved. Your starter pitched two innings. Two. And he was doing well. Dellin Betances is not pitching in the playoffs; there is no reason he can’t pitch five in a meaningless game at the end of the season.
Yankees fans, you’ll be proud to know that your team used 11 pitchers that fateful night. Usually only a team that lets up 30 runs is forced to use 11 pitchers, but you planned it just right so that, if it came down to it, Scott Proctor (not exaggerating, possibly the worst pitcher in the league) would be forced to log big innings. How else can you explain pitching A.J. Burnett (one batter) and Phil Hughes (one inning) in a game like this? The Yankees did not want the Red Sox in the playoffs (Boston was 12-6 vs. New York this season); they wanted the Rays (against whom they were 9-6, not counting the last three of the season). It’s a clear, obvious throwaway, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.
Next victim: Carl Crawford. Get off my team. You’re making $14 million a year—wait, what’s that, you’re getting a raise to $19.5 million next year?—and you let that ball drop? Play it on a hop and make a half-accurate throw home and we win that game (well, probably not). Extend your arm a few inches, and we win that game (fact). Half-heartedly dive at the ball and throw a duck home, and we lose. What’s worse is that we might lose Jacoby Ellsbury thanks to you. Great season, Carl. You really brought your A-game.
Finally, I’d like to thank Terry Francona for his years of service. Much has been said about the need for a scapegoat. Fans found one in Terry Francona, and the Sox declined to pick up his option for 2012. To his critics, I say this: I played baseball for 13 years, and not once did I have a coach inspire me to play any better or worse (sorry, Dad). Most of my interactions with coaches regarded whether I’d be pitching or playing shortstop, or whether I’d be blasting home runs from the third or fourth spot (or walks and singles from the seventh or eighth spot, whatever). In my last year, I remember asking my coach one question: can I take this at-bat right-handed? (He let me, and I popped out to third). Coaches don’t make baseball players because baseball, at its heart, is an individual sport.
The Boston Red Sox shouldn’t have needed Terry Francona to kick them into gear; they are professional athletes and are paid accordingly. Tito, you’re my boy. Pedroia too.
The collapse is unforgivable for now, but, of course, that’s only until next year. We’ll hype them up again only to be let down (probably). But that’s sports, and as we all know, “Sports are better than anything, always.” What a night. I need a drink.