2012 Boston Red Sox: Beantown is burning

Hosted by Akiem Balium- Host of 10 Minutes on the Clock on The Real Sports Talk Network, and Blogger for TRST’s the Sports Realist. Follow Akiem on Twitter @Li495Akiem

The calendars still say September 2011 in Red Sox Nation.

In New England, everyone still seems to be acting like it. It’s fresh in every one of our memories how the story of the 2011 Boston Red Sox ended. They were 13 ½ games up on the Tampa Bay Rays & a sheer lock for the American League Wild Card. And they were a favorite in the American League to get back to the World Series in 2011.

Then, came September.

One of Green Day’s popular hits is “Wake Me When September Ends”. If any in Red Sox nationwere sleeping throughout last September, they wouldn’t  believe the result. Los Calcetines Rojos had blown that 13 ½ game lead to the Rays on the last day of the regular season, resulting in sheer heartbreak for their fans.

I wonder how much that song was requested by Red Sox fans on the many rock radio stations in Boston throughout that month…

For many in Boston & throughout the New England region, it was an unwelcome flashback of what their team was known for prior to breaking their Curse in 2004 with a World Series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.

That year,of course, the Sawx had some company when it came to late-seasons collapses. The Atlanta Braves also coughed up a huge Wild Card lead only to lose that to the eventual World Series champion Redbirds from the Lou.

But, the Braves’ late season collapse didn’t result in the circus-like atmosphere Boston experienced with their late-season gak-job.

It was later documented by Major League Baseball in the brilliant program “Game 162”, but their highest ratings probably come out of Central Florida & St. Louis, not New England.

Newspapers later spilled the beans on what was going down with the City of Beans’ baseball team. It turns out that Boston’s players like Jon Lester, Josh Beckett & others were seen heavily drinking beer & eating fried chicken during games in the Red Sox clubhouse.

I’ve  never drank beer even though I’m past drinking age (22). I love fried chicken, but I know eating it & strenuous activity like playing baseball isn’t the best of winning combinations. But, to play devil’s advocate, given the fetish of MajorLeague Baseball players to sunflower seeds, it could turn out to be par for the course when it comes to baseball clubhouses.

The late-season collapse & chicken-n-beer induced partying at the Fenway clubhouse led to an unraveling at Yawkey Way. Terry Francona was let go. Theo Epstein packed his bags and became president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs, by the way, made a typical Cub-like mistake by not hiring Tito as their new skipper after Mike Quade was fired by Epstein.

Terry Francona shouldn’t have just been shown the door the way he was by the Red Sox brass. It really showed the arrogance of baseball owners to begin with, especially Boston’s. Francona should’ve been able to leave on his own terms. He only was the glue that kept the team together as they made history in 2004 & only padded it with a second Commissioner’s Trophy in 2007 over Colorado.

Perhaps, Epstein & Francona saw the coming storm that was about to envelop the Cityof Beans in 2012. Francona became an analyst (and a good one at that) for ESPN. Meanwhile, Boston decided to make a managerial hire that would make New York Mets fans cringe to this day.

It was Bobby Valentine. Bobby V is known as much more of a disciplinarian than the otherwise easy going Francona. Early on, it was seen as a step in the right direction that antics like what happened in the latter part of the 2011 would not be tolerated  under “The Valentine Administration”.

His last name may be Valentine, but it has earned him no love in 2012 from Red Sox players, fans, or the press. The first tipping point was when the Red Sox blew a 9-0 at Fenway on its 100th anniversary to the arch rival Yankeesin the late innings. Then, Valentine stupidly dissed one of the main stalwarts of Boston’s success throughout the 2000’s in Kevin Youkilis. Dustin Pedroia even came to Youk’s side over that of the manager & even fired a broadside himself: “Maybe that works in Japan”. That fire was doused, but only for a short period of time. Youkilis was ultimately traded to the Chicago White Sox,the first of many signs that the soap opera on the diamond that was the Boston Red Sox were giving up on 2012.

Boston was also one of the most injured teams in baseball this season. Josh Beckett complained to reporters one time after it was found out that he was playing around of golf 24 hours prior to a start. He claimed that he deserves some time off. All players do, just not 24 hours before a start (in which he was shelled).

There have also been constant complaints to John Henry, Larry Lucchino, & Ben Cherington about the manager. Henry looks like the only person in the Boston city limits that has given Bobby V a vote of confidence. Reliever Alfredo Aceves has had two run-ins with the manager that we know of. Bobby Valentine seems to already be planning his exit strategy by making numerous appearanceson Michael Kay’s radio on ESPN 98.7 in….New York.

Even David Ortiz, who looked like the most clutch ballplayer in the history of clutch ball players from 2003 to 2007, once questioned if he still wanted to play ball in Boston. He once said that the Red Sox clubhouse was turning into the “hellhole” it was pre-2003/04. Lester & Beckett looked like shells of themselves.

And of course, there was the blockbuster Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto deal to the Los Angeles Dodgers for some leaves from Southern California palm trees & some sand from Redondo Beach.

It is unbelievable to think that a team with a payroll like Boston’s has developed into this, but Valentine’s last managerial job in the majors was with the New York Mets. His only claim to fame with that was being in the 2000 Subway Series vs. the Yankees—which the Bronx Bombers won 4 games to 1.

This season for Boston has become the definition of a sports soap opera. I want to know if NESN or another local Boston TV station is looking for actors throughout New England to play Francona, Papi, Henry, Lucchino, Youk, Valentine, Pedroia, & others. It would be their version of “The Bronx is Burning”—except that was based on the 1977  New York Yankees season that had a happy ending of course.

This whole thing with the Red Sox has occurred because Red Sox management sleazily & arrogantly thought that what happened in September 2011 superseded the successes they had in 2004 & 2007. And, do we have to go back & remember the last time the Sawx won a World Series prior to 2004. It was the most favorite numeral for Yankee fans for a long period of time.

The movement to get Valentine out of Beantown & back at ESPN is so strong, that columns have been written about bringing back Francona (which they really should) while they may decide to go the White Sox route & hire Jason Varitek. Sports area huge thing in Boston & those fans have little tolerance for losing teams. Perhaps, the only thing Red Sox fans can take solace in is that last year’s Red Sox have a great shot to be eclipsed….

….by this year’s Yankees.

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Posted on September 8, 2012, in MLB and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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