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BOSTON (CBS) The Boston Red Sox would benefit from not making the playoffs.
That’s right. They need to crash and burn. They need to finish the 2011 season with a historic collapse. The Red Sox have already failed drastically by watching as their season hopes dwindle away to the gritty Tampa Bay Rays.
Led by manager Joe Maddon, the Rays have dug their way back from the grave and look to propel themselves into the postseason. The Red Sox had a nine game lead in the wildcard over the Rays on September 3rd. As of Wednesday, their lead as shrunk to merely two games.
Tuesday night’s debacle against the Baltimore Orioles in which Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon blew the save, ultimately losing 7-5, was one of the more painful losses they have suffered this season. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Rather than grinding through the pain, they take advantage of manager Terry Francona’s lenient attitude with his players to take a day or two off. Carl Crawford being scratched from the lineup with a stiff neck for Monday’s doubleheader is the latest example of this.
That bellowing laugh you just heard came from the Bruins locker room.
With some exceptions aside, this team simply isn’t tough enough. Ranging from sore backs because of airplane seats, a slightly twisted ankle, to a stiff neck, these injuries are beyond unacceptable.
Regardless if the Red Sox make the playoffs, a change may need to be made to this organization. Should Francona be made responsible for this collapse? Any manager, no matter his successful past, should never let his team win only five games in September with the playoffs around the corner. It’s simply inexcusable.
Let’s make this clear: Francona wouldn’t stand a chance in this town had we still been in a championship drought since 1918. This collapse would be one of the biggest stories in Red Sox history if that had been the case. You thought Grady Little had it bad?
That being said, Francona isn’t the biggest problem. When it’s all said and done, the players must be held responsible. Instead, they are making excuses for themselves. They have no character, heart, and for lack of a better term, “balls.”
The one positive that could be pulled from Tuesday night’s disaster was that Papelbon owned up to his mistake. It’s refreshing to see someone on this actually caring about their performance.
“I’ve got to go out there and execute. I didn’t do that,” said Papelbon. “I let my team down. I’ll shoulder that and take full responsibility, and I’ll be ready to go tomorrow. It’s plain and simple.”
Without a doubt, championship teams must have a vast amount of talent to win it all. But every single championship team must also have heart. Players like Dustin Pedroia and Youkilis live to play the game.
Many members of this ball club, like John Lackey and Crawford, play baseball to make a living.
Until that changes, this team cannot win. Losing in historic fashion is the truly the only way these baseball players can wake up and form into a team and compete in 2012.
You can follow 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Tucker Silva on twitter @TuckSilva.