Friday, October 07, 2005

Sun Sets on the Red Sox Nation

Just like that, the reign of the Boston Red Sox ended tonight. It was the other Sox that defeated Boston three games to none in the ALDS. In every aspect of the game the Chicago White Sox were better than the Red Sox and they deserved to win.

To some people it was a surprise, to many it wasn’t…it was bound to happen. The team that the Red Sox Nation and many other Americans became enamored with in October of 2003 and became infatuated with in October of last year is out. The downfall of the 2005 BoSox was clearly their lack of pitching. Not enough good starting pitching and a very depleted bullpen. They let the great Pedro Martinez walk. They let another Boston mainstay, Derek Lowe leave to free agency in the offseason too. Right now Pedro and Lowe must seem like Juan Marichal and Don Sutton.

This team just didn’t have the same flare for the dramatic. The Red Sox had won eight of their last nine games when facing elimination because of that flare. They rallied from an 0-2 deficit against the Oakland Athletics in the 2003 ALDS and then in historic fashion against their nemesis Yankees won four straight last year en route to their first World Series title since 1918 and ended ‘the curse’.

Too many pieces to their Championship jig saw puzzle of ’04 didn’t fit this year. Their closer who Sox fans revered like Yastrzemski fell apart early in the season, which forced them to use a mix-and-match pen from that point on. The second baseman that Boston fans cherished was striking out more than he got on base and finally showed why he has always been considered an average infielder. They released him. And their left-handed stud out of the bullpen became a batting practice pitcher. They released him too.

I’m also tired of the crazy notion that Terry Francona is all of sudden Casey Stengel. NEWS FLASH to the Red Sox Nation: Francona’s first two winning seasons as a manager where last year and this year. Sure, Terry’s a good leader to this vagabond bunch of ‘Idiots’ and he’s done a nice job, but he’s not Mozart.

Truth be told, with the way that this team lost their AL East lead in September to the Yankees – this team should be talked about like the 1978 Red Sox…they choked.

Now the interesting part comes. How many pieces of the jig saw puzzle will still be around in 2006? Word on the street is that the Sox and General Manager Theo Epstein are far apart on contract talks. Leadoff hitter and centerfielder Johnny Damon is a free agent that will attract tons of attention on the open market. May he roam the outfield of Yankee Stadium next season wearing pin stripes? Where will Manny Ramirez be next year? Boston might finally pull the trigger on a big trade to unleash the eccentric slugger. Will Keith Foulke be effective again? Can Curt Schilling be the front-line starter that he’s been for the last decade plus?

Too many questions for the Red Sox Nation to ponder this winter. I’ll let them cry in their beers for now and start rooting against the Yankees tomorrow.


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At 10/09/2005 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Red Sox are out and next the Yankees. Astros will win it all.


At 10/10/2005 5:30 PM, Blogger J-Mazz said...

Most Sox fans will tell you they didn't expect to repeat, not after we lost our ace and closer in the first half of the season. It was a fun ride, but our hearts can finally settle into a steady rhythm, not hanging on every pitch, broadcast into our homes every nite from April to October, thanks to NESN.

Side note: When did Selig create the tie-breaker rule of whichever team wins the season series clinches the division title? I believe he instituted that rule around Sept. 25. Watching Selig run MLB is like watching Tommy Boy attempt to run Callahan Brake Pads.

I would not go as far as to call the 2005 Sox "chokers." Comparing them to the '78 team is like comparing last weekend's New England flooding to last month's in New Orleans. The largest lead the Sox held this season was around five games (relying on memory here). They never had it locked up, not w/ a different "ace" each month.

Next year's team will look very different, featuring what could be an entirely new infield. The only guaranteed returning starters are Tek, Trot and Mr. Ortiz. Will next year be a step forward or backward? Will Schill and Foulke return to their 2004 selves? Will Damon braid his hair and connect it to his beard? I don't have the answers to any of these questions. All I know is no one can ever take away the 2004 season, and for that, I'm extremely happy.

Besides, we can now shift our focus to the other champs, the NFL's New England Juggernauts.

At 10/11/2005 2:47 PM, Anonymous what would johnny damon do said...

I'm leaving! This team stinks!


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