Friday, September 23, 2011

Mandate for Red Sox: Win for Survival... Or Else


The swarms of Red Sox critics are downgrading the franchise located in Boston, a town that prides itself on baseball and crowds one of the oldest ballparks in the majors, Fenway Park. The front office rarely gets much sleep, reacting to the tension that hovers aggressively over the Red Sox, a franchise still in a pennant race for the wild card.

It defines common reasoning to believe in the Red Sox not to discount them from reaching the postseason, peaking through the Green Monster in autumn, and it's almost implausible to neglect Boston, flirting and staying in the race to expectedly clinch a postseason berth. If so, as we all know, the Red Sox will have to qualify for the fall classic only by winning the wild card, but if not then Boston is unworthy.

The uncertainty of baseball lies in the American League, with a tight, tense, crazy and unpredictable wild-card race that has the people in New England nervous, panicking over Boston's horrible pitching and injuries. This is about a team that has faltered and debilitated at the worst possible time, and where it stands now with the sudden meltdown, the Red Sox are doomed against the Yankees if they lose in a three-game series this weekend.

The way things are happening for the Red Sox, a World Series favorite have plummeted in prior weeks and have no longer been relevant or intimidating. As if owning the third-highest payroll in baseball is not enough, the Red Sox are 5-16 in September, unraveling and falling apart before our very eyes. As the archrival Yankees clinched a playoff berth and won the divisional title, the Red Sox are barely in survival with less than a week left to play, and as of now, Boston is inevitably marred in much trouble in September.

The more the Red Sox struggles pitching and aiming toward clinching the wild-card, the more Boston declines in chase for a postseason spot that could renew the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry if the franchise can succeed and rid the travails for one of the enticing clashes in sports.

This team was supposed to win 100 games as one player said he was highly optimistic at the start of training camp, but as it turns out the Red Sox weren't ever worthy of masterfully reaching triple-digit victories in the win column, not as much as Boston has been hit with injuries or withered, not as much as Terry Francona has cascaded as the voice of the Red Sox in the managerial role.

One of the problems here is Carl Crawford, a high-profile outfielder who merely has 18 stolen bases and has been a disappointment when people begin to wonder whether he's worthy or overpaid. Based on that, since he's not flawless or productive, he's partly the blame for the Red Sox failures this season, a bust for earning $20 million a year.

For weeks now John Lackey has been the buffeted starter in the pitching rotation, a component in arguably the deepest starting lineup in the history of the franchise, but more astonishingly he has played worse than a little leaguer. In fact, a little league pitcher at the moment could toss better than him and probably could win more games. That's just how bad Lackey is pitching of late.

With the struggles -- and as the bullpen has been heavily used lately -- it's about survival and keeping composure. It's about performing efficiently with all potential and balance in one of the deepest pitching rotations, not underperforming and financially wasting profit from its payroll. So meanwhile, the Red Sox can't take comfort in that they'll win the wild-card race and clinch a playoff berth, putting all kinds of burdens and scares on themselves, only leading by a game.

The losses to Lackey’s career aren’t so friendly, but more than ever, it is horrifying for a big-game pitcher winning in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series to roughly disappoint. He's allowing runs to score, he's getting bullied on the mound, he's yielding hits, and he's becoming an unwitting scapegoat of all the team's fiascoes. Through it all, he has not earned a win in five straight starts since Aug. 23, finishing 0-3 in that stretch.

The reality -- if you've had not noticed by now -- is the foolishness of Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, who has been described as a masterminded architect. The concept of spending immeasurable millions for one player was unwise, since the Red Sox are losing games, which is the reason he is blamed for the underachievement of Crawford and for even bringing aboard an injury-prone Erik Bedard.

The point is, Bedard has won one game since joining the Red Sox late in July from a trade, and again he's injured in September in which he's a non-factor in chase for the pennant. This isn't about Bedard, because it takes a total team effort to win in baseball. It's about the Red Sox as a whole, but what is unacceptable is the amount of losses, especially in September.

There's nothing spectacular about Adrian Gonzalez either, the first baseman who has swung poorly against the Yankees and Rays and owns a hideous batting average. It's a sign of weakness Gonzalez has shown ever since his arrival in Beantown and nowadays fans are deprived of greatness, whether the Red Sox faithful overlooks the field from the Green Monster view or sit in cozy seats behind home plate with a sellout crowd on hand.

This isn't really worth it, if your hometown team is underperforming or not exceeding all standards in what was supposed to be the best ballclub in baseball when it turns out to be irrational. Maybe it's because the Red Sox are considered a high-market franchise in which Boston was projected to win the World Series?

Those are the facts, and one can argue that this is maybe why the Red Sox are over hyped in a sense? Given the notion that Boston was in first place on Sept. 1, it was probable and believable, but not three weeks later. There's only a full week remaining and they were dispatched from the top spot in the division by the Yankees, a team the Red Sox truly disdain and has antipathy towards being that pinstripes and Sox just don't blend in together.

At the very least, it is now imperative for the Red Sox to survive a terrifying collapse and dismiss the dismal meltdowns in recent weeks. It almost means that Jonathan Papelbon can't afford to blow another save as he did Tuesday night against the Orioles, a night that turned into a dreadful nightmare. It's good to hope he doesn't have to take full responsibility for another loss this season.

For almost a decade, if not an entire decade, Josh Beckett has been known as a big-game pitcher, but not now on decline and slightly accountable for the Red Sox enlarged 6.77 ERA in September of their starters. The 23 errors in the past 21 games will come back to haunt Boston, all of which is daunting for a city that culturally think highly of baseball, and comes together inside Fenway Park and sings "Sweet Caroline."

But even Neil Diamond knows it's not so sweet in Beantown, just as much as Red Sox fans grasp similar vibes. As it stands right now, Dustin Pedroia is distraught and incensed and David Ortiz is Old Papi, not Big Papi and has witnessed his first real collapse with the Red Sox. He also has a confused state of mind, and so does team captain Jason Varitek. Now would be a good time to erase the outrage. As of quickly, the Red Sox are submerging into quicksand, unless they turn it around. Again, it's call survival.

Bye-bye, Boston. Unless the Red Sox avoids further misery, then they'll not have to wave farewell. It's all about winning for survival.