When is everyone going to stop thinking the Red Sox were this joke of a baseball team that was lucky to even finish the season? When is everyone going to stop this witch-hunt for the cancer that caused this all? When? They lost one or too more games than they could to make the playoffs. Why? I don’t know, exactly, but it wasn’t because of the pitchers of beer having a gametime meal.
I’ve already talked about Beckett. I sincerely hope he comes back next year and gives the exact same season in 2012. The day I don’t want a pitcher to toss a 2.89 ERA and 1.03 WHIP is the day I should turn in my Red Sox Nation membership card. If, you know, I had one of those. Same goes for John Lester. Anyone really see his season? 3.47 ERA. What was it last season when he was a Cy Young contender? 3.25. The year before that? 3.41. Sounds pretty good to me. His WHIP this season? 1.26. Last season? 1.20. The Year before that? 1.23. So, let’s stop the implication that Lester was spiraling into a drunken tub of lard too out of shape to pitch. As for John Lackey? Yup. He had a bad year. His ERA this season was 2 runs higher than last year. (Although, oddly, he only had two fewer wins). His 1.62 WHIP was higher than 2010’s 1.42. He was bad. It happens. He gave up a run more per start this year than last year. I get it. He’s overpaid. OK. He’s the fourth starter. It’s what happens.
What was really the problem? The same problem the Phillies had at the end of the year when they lost a bunch of games in a row. The same problem the Yankees had when they had a poor September. After you clinch, you don’t play as well. Problem is, the Sox clinched in August, before they actually clinched.
You could see it in the chase for Wakefield’s 200th win. They played, and managed, those games completely differently than they would if they had a one game lead. They were coasting, and willing to play around to get that one for Tim. You saw it in the way they handled Kevin Youkilis. The Sox mentioned more than once that he was being rested, but if they were in the hunt he could play. You saw it in the way Theo didn’t make moves. When you start Kyle Weiland in two September games against your closest playoff competition, you’re not worried about losing. You’re coasting. When the Sox might have needed to play a game 163, Theo was making calls trying to get a pitcher for that game. Why did he wait until then? He was in coast mode too. The Sox coasted for a month and a half. The only real problem? They played the Rays seven times in coast mode. So, while they were losing those games, the Rays were winning them. By the time the Sox realized they needed to try again, it was too late. The Yankees were rolling over for the Rays, and the Sox had injuries to deal with. They couldn’t stop on a dime. (The constant annoying questions from the media didn’t help either.)
I remember the 2007 Super Bowl. I remember thinking it was too bad that the Patriots led for most of that game. They were playing differently. They were coasting. If they had trailed during the game, they would have played to win. If it had even been back and forth, I think the Pats would have pulled it out. But, they coasted until it was too late. Same thing with the Sox. They relaxed too soon.
I bet it won’t happen in 2012.