Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Choke's on Them: Red Sox Lose, Squawker Lisa Does the Snoopy Dance

This is the happiest I've ever been after a Yankee loss. I'm exhausted from screaming and clapping and doing the Snoopy Dance to celebrate the Red Sox losing and Tampa Bay winning.

I still can't quite believe it all happened the way it did. Remember, the Yankees had a 7-0 lead against Tampa (what was up with Mark Teixeira hitting two homers?) and even though their bullpen ending up giving up six runs against the Yanks, the Bombers were still within one strike away from winning the game when Tampa tied it. And Boston was also one strike away from winning the game when Baltimore roared back to win.

There was also Atlanta's historic collapse, with the Cardinals making it into the playoffs. All in all, my TV's remote control and picture-in-picture function got quite the workout last night. That was the most action-packed, exciting night of baseball all year.

The funny thing, though,  is that if Bud Selig gets his way with adding another wild card, none of this would have happened -- both Boston and Atlana would have made the playoffs, being rewarded even though they blew their wild card leads.

It was so good, so good, as they say in Red Sox Nation, to see Boston back where they belong, choking away their playoff chances and bringing much angst to Beantown. Remember, I witnessed the carnage of the 2004 ALCS in person for Games 6 and 7. I literally cried after Game 7. And the next day, when I went into work at New York's hometown newspaper, I saw how my employer mocked the Yankees with the infamous "The Choke's On Them" Daily News cover.  Those were horrible, horrible times.

Well, now the choke is on the Red Sox again. And you'd better believe I am enjoying every single minute of it. It's not just that Boston blew a nine-game wild card lead in a month. They were also in first place as late as September 1 this year, and were in that spot for 60 days this summer. The Yanks knocked them out of first for good at the begining of September, and helped send them on this downward spiral.

BTW, I've already seen some revisionist history by a few Sox fans that this debacle isn't that bad because the team only missed a wild card spot. Puh-lease. This team was being touted as the best Red Sox squad ever. They seemed totally stacked, from top to bottom, and had a great winter of acquisitions. At the beginning of the year, most people, including myself, figured the Sox would win the division, with the Yanks winning the wild card (and who would have expected the Rays to be in the playoff picture at all?) To do what they did ranks right up there with 1978. Only thing is, the '78 Sox actually made it competitive towards the end, forcing a one-game playoff.

I feel some empathy for my Red Sox fan friends -- they deserved better for their loyalty -- but I'm still loving seeing the Red Sox franchise I remember return to its old ways. (I've been listening to WEEI on my phone all week. Great stuff hearing Red Sox Nation lose their minds!) Since 2004, the Red Sox have had their own mystique and aura, of seeming that they could come back against impossible odds. Now that's all gone.

Come to thing of it, a lot of what I see the Red Sox this year reminds me of the Yankees in 2004. And if the ownership is smart, they will fire Terry Francona, the way the Yanks should have gotten rid of Joe Torre after that year. I think that in most cases, the first five years a manager has a team are the most effective (Torre had four rings in that time, Francona two.)

One of the things Joe Girardi did, after some initial resistance, was successfully meld the four rings guys and the rest of the Yanks together as a real team, with a different identity from the late '90s dynasty. That's what the Sox need right now. From what I see, they don't have the all-for-one, one-for-all look that they did in 2004. They also don't seem to have the Kevin Millar-type joker to keep things loose, the way the Yanks have now with Nick Swisher, and didn't have in 2004.

I already see a lot of scapegoating in Red Sox Nation of Jonathan Papelbon, Carl Crawford, etc., the way A-Rod was scapegoated in 2004. But in both cases,  this was a team-wide meltdown, with nearly everybody playing a part in the suckitude.

And I don't want to hear any whining about losing pitchers due to injury. The Yankees won the AL East with CC Sabathia, the rookie Ivan Nova, and a bunch of retreads. They won with A.J.. Burnett having an even worse season than last year, and Phil Hughes being terrible and/or injured for much of the year. The two worst pitchers down the stretch for Boston were Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, both of whom are arguably better than any Yankee starter who does not have the CC initials.

Anyhow, I'm going to bask in the fact that the Red Sox of old, the ones who broke hearts all over New England, are back, baby! Good times!

What do you think? Tell us about it!


nutballgazette said...

The last time the Red Sox had such a crushing loss they followed up with the most incredible come from behind win ever,

Uncle Mike said...

They were still juicing then, Nutball.

They cheated. They lied about it. Now they are paying for it.

This collapse wasn't just worse than the 2004 Yankees, it was worse than the 2007 Mets. It makes what happened to the 1964 Phillies look tame, because, after all, the Phils won only 92 games -- the same number the Red Sox won when they won the 1967 Pennant -- and were not seen before the season as an "all-time great" team. And they didn't have the advantage of making the Playoffs without having the best record in the whole league (the Cards & Reds would have slugged it out for the NL West, with the Phils winning the NL East), or even the best record in their own Division (no Wild Card).

Like the '07 Mets, the '11 Red Sox went from sure Division winners and as good a bet for the whole thing as anyone, to missing the Playoffs completely. But if you look at this chart, their chances of making the Playoffs looked so good for so long, and even at the end, they needed just one more out against a team that had won just 68 of their first 161... and they blew it:

MONDOAS said...

The problem with the Sux and their fans is they started believing that they were one of the true elite teams in sports. Elite teams win all the time and rarely choke. They won 2 world Series and they started talking loud and it was just a matter of time before they were put back into their rightful roles of being losers. They have always choked and they really need to remember who they are. Look, they were going to win eventually. Even Perry Mason eventually lost a case, actually 2, and the Cubs ONE DAY will win a WS. So Sux fans, just except your birth right as being choking losers!!

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