Editor's note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine's words. Each game day, we will select a Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.
The torture has ended.
With a 14-2 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday, the Red Sox finished the 2012 regular season with a record of 69-93 and the franchise's worst winning percentage (.425) since 1965.
It was a year that started with promise, only to plunge down to the bottom of the standings. For Bobby Valentine, the challenges proved to be much tougher than the smear campaigns that ended his stints in New York and Japan.
That narrative could also summarize Daisuke Matsuzaka's career. Six years ago, the Japanese hurler arrived in Boston as a highly touted rookie with an arsenal of pitches and received a hero's welcome. He was supposed to fortify a loaded rotation.
During the first two years, Matsuzaka lived up to the expectations, compiling a 33-15 record in that span. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2007 and in the Cy Young voting in 2008.
After that, it all went downhill for Matsuzaka. Over the next four years in Boston, the 32-year-old was plagued by an array of injuries and inconsistency while posting a 17-22 record
"I didn't expect the six years to end the way it did end," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "It was really hard on me mentally for a while now. But there were some great memories — the first year winning the World Series was great. But I wasn't able to perform to my expectations after the first two years, so I'm really disappointed and I'm really apologetic that I wasn't able to perform to my expectations."
On Wednesday night, he finished his season — and likely his Red Sox career — with another wild outing. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings, surrendering six hits and five runs while only striking out two batters.
Despite the struggles, Matsuzaka reiterated his desire to return to the Red Sox and redeem himself. But like Valentine, both could be on their way out as Boston attempts to rebuild and reload.
"He was just like us, he was in a fight, the whole time," Cody Ross said of Valentine, "and he kept battling. He was great. Great to me personally, just a great man. Like I said, he had a tough, tough time, just like we all did. No. 1, not being healthy as a team, and not being able to put the guys up that he wanted, we'll see."
Whichever direction the organization goes, Valentine insisted he'd be at peace.
"My life will be fine," Valentine said.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, the torture on the diamond has ended. But the challenge of assembling a roster capable of winning a World Series championship in 2013 is merely beginning.