BOSTON (CBS) – Even veteran Boston Globe sports columnist and 98.5 The Sports Hub contributor Dan Shaughnessy didn’t see this coming.
“I think the Rays are not going to win tonight. I think the one thing that we’ve eliminated tonight is the Red Sox season is not going to end tonight; they live to play another day. The Rays are not going to come back from 7-0 with an inning and a half to go,” he said on NESN late Wednesday night as the Red Sox appeared to be closing in on a playoff berth.
Then the Sox collapsed and the season was over in just minutes.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Joe Mathieu talks to Shaughnessy
“It’s really hard to get your head around, that all the things (that) could happen did,” Shaughnessy told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Thursday.
“They were on their way to winning the game and that was kind of narrow. The Yankees were thrashing the Rays.”
“When Tampa’s behind 7-nothing in the eighth, at least one thing you know is that the Sox are going to live to play another day and, worst case, be in a one game playoff with Tampa.”
“And then to have all that stuff just unravel after a rain delay in the midnight hour, it’s pretty bizarre.”
So what happened in September?
“It’s really spread around. I mean there were some injuries but nothing extraordinary like in 2010 which really did blow up their season,” Shaughnessy said.
“This was about under-performance, particularly the high-priced free agents that they brought in, i.e. Carl Crawford, John Lackey, the big-ticket guys in the last two years.”
“Even a guy like Adrian Gonzalez was not nearly as productive in the second half of the season. He still hit a very high average, but (he) just wasn’t having (an) impact on games.”
“Youkilis getting hurt at the end definitely was a blow.”
“Something got them every night it seemed. They lost 20 of the last 27 games and it’s the greatest collapse in the history of baseball.”
“No team’s ever had a nine-game lead in September and not made the post-season.”
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So what’s next?
“I think we’ve seen the last of Terry Francona. I’m not sure that’s fair. I just think that this has run its course.”
”Their pitching coach Curt Young probably is vulnerable. Theo (Epstein) will probably be encouraged to go talk to the Cubs if he wants to. They have sort of a standing offer with him.”
“And then people like Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, J.D. Drew, they’re probably all gone. David Ortiz and Jon Papelbon have contracts up and that’ll be an interesting signing season.”
“The core of the team sticks around and tries to recover from this and move forward next spring.”
And what about John Lackey, who didn’t endear himself to fans this season and then reportedly filed from divorce from his wife as she battles breast cancer?
“He keeps getting the ball as long as he’s here, that’s the way I see it, because they’re paying him a lot,” Shaughnessy said.
“He’s got some major making up to do throughout the region in a lot of areas and that’s going to be a challenge to him on and off the field.”