By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
“Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” – Willie Nelson
When it comes to the 2019 Boston Red Sox, the party never really began as they lollygagged into the pathetic excuse for a World Series title defense that has been this lost season.
The warning signs pointing towards the disaster that has been the first four months-plus of the slog through the mud his team has been muddled in came when second-year manager Alex Cora addressed his club for the first time as a group following their unbelievably easy road to a championship under the then-rookie skipper in a franchise record-setting freshman campaign.
“Usually when we talk about turning the page, it’s because something negative happened last year,” said a blissfully ignorant and brash Cora on February 18th in Fort Myers.. “In this case, I don’t want to turn the page. I mean, we just won (119 total) games. We went 11-3 in October. We broke records during the regular season.
“I think what we have to do is actually start writing a new chapter in our book. And it starts here.”
Talk about a rookie mistake. How many chuckles do you think that got from Bill Belichick, just weeks away from his NFL record-setting sixth Super Bowl win as a head coach and his eighth ring overall?
"I think what we have to do is actually start writing a new chapter in our book."
— Red Sox (@RedSox) February 19, 2019
My guess is it may have induced a thigh slap as well, which is borderline delirium for the normally phlegmatic prince of evil that has terrorized football fans across the country for the better part of the last two decades in Foxboro.
But, guess what, the few Red Sox fans who are still passionate about their team and not just along for the ride when they succeed, those folks aren’t laughing.
Cora is not completely to blame for the dumpster fire his team has become, although the handling of his starting staff in the spring was approaching the criminal level. After winning the team’s fourth title this century, team president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski morphed into the MLB equivalent of former Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and overpaid anyone possible to put the band back together for this season.
That, of course, was at the cost searching out the bullpen help his squad so obviously needed – just look at the way Cora manipulated his staff in the WS, turning his starters into relievers for much of the later innings in the postseason.
And more specifically, a closer.
Yet, instead of looking forward into the future and putting the past behind them – no one in professional sports has ever done that better than Belichick – Dealin’ Dave decided he was all in on the sequel with all but Craig Kimbrel and minor pieces playing their 2018 roles.
Someone should have told him most sequels suck. As do his Red Sox right now.
Anyone that thinks that this season didn’t end when Dombrowski realized the mess he created and decided to pass at the MLB trade deadline on July 31st, likely believes in leprechauns and Santa Clause, not to mention that the singing of “Sweet Caroline” when the team is getting blown out at Fenway Park is a “Boston tradition”.
The spring signings of Chris Sale ( 5 years, $145 million starting in 2020), Nathan Eovaldi (4 years, $68M) were foolhardy at best, given the fact that both pitchers have a history of breaking/wearing down and Sale still had a year left for the Sox to see if he could actually make it to September and pitch effectively.
At this point, I bet Dombrowski would settle for a decent start from the self-abusing southpaw.
When you factor in the monies owed to David Price ($96M, 3 years), Sale ($145M, 5 years) and Eovaldi (3 years, $51M), you have a total of $292 million owed to three pitchers how have proven that they are either physically or mentally unstable when spring training starts next February.
As the late, great Ned Martin would say, “Oh, mercy!”.
The boys of summer from Boston are merely playing out the string now and when the Patriots preseason starts this Thursday they will fall off the radar of everyone except the most self-loathing Sox fan.
I hate to break it to the “wait until next year” Pink Hats, it’s likely only to get worse from here. And I haven’t even mentioned that this going quietly into the night season for the team from the Fens is likely to be the last Mookie Betts spends in a Red Sox uniform.