Monday, June 23, 2003

Games 72 & 73 - Red Sox

Philadelphia Phillies 6, Red Sox 5 (13)
Phillies 5, Red Sox 0
Record: 41-32

"That's the worst loss I've ever seen" - ESPN's Tim Kurkjian after Saturday's 6-5 Sox loss.

It's probably a good thing that I'm writing this now, after some hours of sleep and reflection, because my initial reaction to this weekend was entirely unprintable. The Sox folded three times on Saturday, blowing leads of 2-1, 3-2, and 5-3 in the 8th, 12th, and 13th innings. Sunday, when they had a chance to make a statement about their character by responding to a heartbreaking loss, they folded their tents and laid down like second-division pretenders. They should be embarrassed.

The Sox are now in third place in the AL East, 3 games behind the Yankees and 1 behind Toronto. And that, flatly, is unacceptable. They are too talented and too complete a team to be in this position. What they seem to lack is a fire in the belly, an unwillingness to break when faced with adversity. I've thought to this point that the offense had some of that grit, but even the bats have been strangely timid of late - they left runners in scoring position in 6 consecutive innings on Saturday, and then were held scoreless by Brett Myers on Sunday. It's as if the bullpen's continued unreliability has broken the team's spirit, and nobody has the personality, charisma, or just plain balls to jar this team back to life.

The Sox clubhouse is made up of a bunch of solid, earnest, hard-working professionals, but there isn't a ball-busting, rally-around-me-boys leader in sight. Nomar's a quiet guy, Manny's a savant, Pedro's a flake, Trot Nixon tries really hard, but he's too intense to be a true leader, and most damning, Grady Little is an aw-shucks, we played hard, we'll get 'em next time sort - who can't figure out how to use his bullpen.

It's come to this, because I can't stand watching this team underacheive. The Sox' next 10 games are against Detroit (4), Florida (3), and Tampa Bay (3). If the Sox don't win 8 of the 10, I will not be responsible for my actions for the rest of the season, and I will abandon any pretense of objectivity in my rabid drive to rid this team of its manager.

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