Bill Plaschke: It's fun watching the Red Sox lose
Seven years after they broke an 86-year-old curse, I’m loving it that a different curse has seemingly returned.
The Curse Of Those Who Forget Who They Were.
Back in 2004, when the Red Sox had not won a championship in forever, they crawled to the World Series on the bony fingers of need. This time, two titles and millions of payroll dollars later, those hands are heavy with rings, soft with entitlement, dropping everything in sight. Once America’s beloved underdogs, the Red Sox have become America’s insufferable winners, and I’m loving it that they are being reminded of the difference.
I’m loving watching Boston Manager Terry Francona literally run out of the back of the dugout Wednesday night after the Red Sox blew another game with another ace on the mound in a 6-4 loss to the sorry Baltimore Orioles.
On this night, Josh Beckett gave it up. A night earlier, Jonathan Papelbon gave it up. Your two best pitchers can’t hold two leads against a team with the second-worst record in the American League, where do you go from here? Oh, yeah, they now go to New York to play the Yankees this weekend, and I’m loving it.
The Red Sox have lost 14 of their last 18 games and seen a nine-game wild-card lead on Sept. 3 shrink to 2½ games over the creeping Angels and crawling Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox starters’ ERA this month is 6.77. They have committed 23 errors in 21 games. The only group of major leaguers that have had a worse September has been the two-win Minnesota Twins.
All of which would elicit a sympathetic wince if the Red Sox didn’t have the third-highest payroll in baseball at $161 million -- which is $119 million more than the Rays. These are the Red Sox who bought Carl Crawford out of Tampa, bought John Lackey from the Angels, stole Adrian Gonzalez out of San Diego because the Padres couldn’t pay him. These are the Red Sox who discovered a way to make more cash by putting seats on top of the Green Monster, for Yaz's sake.
These Red Sox might not yet be worthy of the “Evil Empire” tag they once put on the New York Yankees, but they have become an empire nonetheless, draining much of the charm from what was once one of the coolest teams in baseball history. Remember The Idiots? Remember how they historically overcame a three-games-to-none deficit to beat the Yankees in the 2004 league championship series, beginning their journey to that long-awaited world championship?
Only four players from that team are still in the Red Sox clubhouse, so they’ve obviously forgotten. Watching them fail to hit a ball out of the infield while rolling over in nine pitches against Baltimore’s Jack Johnson in the ninth inning Wednesday, it was easy for the rest of us to forget.
In 2004, seemingly every Red Sox game in Fenway Park was dominated by camera shots of long-suffering fans holding their hands over their mouths as if praying. On Wednesday night, those hands were removed so the team could hear their boos, and I’m loving it.
Photo: Boston Red Sox pitching change. Credit: Mark L. Baer / U.S. Presswire