The 2011 Red Sox are not the greatest team that ever was. They are the greatest team that never was.
In January, I predicted that the 2011 Red Sox could be the next 1927 Yankees. They were more like the 2007 Mets. Instead of celebrating a championship for the ages, the 2011 Red Sox had a collapse for the record books and will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Losing 20 of 27 games in September.
Blowing a nine-game lead in the final month of the season.
Becoming the first team to miss the playoffs after being up by as many as nine games for a postseason spot entering September.
Glory wasn?t meant to be for the 2011 Red Sox. Their 2-10 start to the season was the first warning sign. They went 81-42 to restore hope and appeared on target for 100 wins.
Then, September struck, and the Red Sox turned into The Bad News Bears — before Morris Buttermaker convinced Kelly Leak and Amanda Whurlitzer to join the team. The Red Sox could have used Leak?s bat and Amanda?s arm down the stretch, because they couldn?t hit, field or pitch with consistency. They didn?t win back-to-back games after Aug. 27. Champions don?t do that. Teams watching the playoffs on TV do, and the Red Sox will have a front-seat in their living rooms this October.
The question is why. Many reasons have been cited for the wipeout. Expect the team — players, coaches and front office alike — to seek answers. But second-guessing isn?t going to bring the Red Sox back from elimination. No single person is to blame for the epic crash. The breakdown was a collective failure and likely will lead to some changes this offseason.
A World Series title was the goal for the 2011 Red Sox, and unmet goals have consequences. That?s the nature of the business. For the second straight October, the Red Sox are spectators. Now, the Yankees, Rays, Rangers, Tigers, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Brewers and Phillies will fight to be kings.
The show will go on without the 2011 Red Sox, but their memory won?t soon be forgotten. They will live in infamy with other clubs that blew big leads: the 2009 Tigers, 1995 Angels, 1987 Blue Jays, 1978 Red Sox, 1969 Cubs, 1964 Phillies,1962 Dodgers, 1951 Dodgers and 1938 Pirates.
You win some. You lose some. You learn a lot.
The 2011 Red Sox won 90 games and underachieved.
Only 188 days until Opening Day to turn the page and believe again.