The Red Sox have the day off to pack up and head for Baltimore
and a six-game road trip that wraps up next Wednesday. After that, Sox
players will scatter to various points as the offseason begins.
Boston played its 81st and final game of the
season at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, losing to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2.
The Sox finished with a 34-47 record at Fenway this year,
matching their worst home record since the current 162-game schedule went into
effect in 1961. It snaps a streak of 14 consecutive seasons with a
winning record at home.
The Red Sox won’t play another game at Fenway until April 8 of
next season, when they host the Baltimore Orioles. It will be an
incredibly different team when they return to the field. We all know
about the L.A. bailout of the team, freeing up some $250 million in future salary
Ben Cherington will have plenty of room within which to operate
this winter, a rare opportunity to create a roster almost from scratch with
a team that has the resources to go after whatever players that interest him.
That doesn’t mean he’ll go the drunken sailor route. In
fact, the lesson we’ve learned from the past two years is that financial
discipline will be one of the keys going forward.
Two winters ago the Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed
Carl Crawford, locking the two up for seven years apiece. Both are gone
after a September collapse last year and a season-long malaise in 2012.
Fenway fans never warmed to either left-handed hitter, and the
duo was part of a team that seemed ill-suited to make the most out of playing
games in the “lyric little bandbox.”
The Red Sox have averaged some 51 wins a year at home since the
championship season of 2004. Seeing that band of self-proclaimed “idiots” riding Duck Boats again this week was a reminder of what baseball can be at
Not everyone is built to succeed here. Some rise to the
challenge and perform under increased pressure. Others feel suffocated by
the atmosphere and constant scrutiny of Boston.
Cody Ross, for one, was very comfortable calling Fenway Park
home. He’s a keeper. Now Cherington and his lieutenants need to
round up more like him.
On Tuesday night we saw a group of champions from 2004 who
handled Boston well. One night later we saw a gathering of the greatest
to ever wear the uniform.
There are no baseball metrics to gauge the difficulty of playing
under the expectations that surround the Red Sox. A player’s OPS or a
pitcher’s ERA won’t tell you how that player will handle things
here. There is an intangible, something that
allows a player to be his best under these conditions.
It was an intangible that the 2012 Red Sox sorely lacked.