I’ve never understood the fascination of media guys needing to declare a season dead as early as they can. Are people really going to look back at the end of the year and be impressed with your ability to say correctly that a 27-38 team isn’t going to make the playoffs? For me at least, I’d be more impressed with somebody who didn’t give up on a team this bad. That being said, I’m just about at the point where I’m ready to give up on this Red Sox team.
The simple fact of the matter is that this is not a good baseball team. And no matter how many team meetings the team has, nothing’s going to change until the players start playing fundamental baseball. This isn’t about hitting home runs or making diving catches. It’s about knocking down grounders to keep runners from taking extra bases and moving runners over when they’re on base. Last night, Mookie Betts led off an inning with a single, then got picked off on the fourth pickoff attempt of the at-bat. That can’t happen. But it’s not just one play every game. It’s inning after inning that seasoned veterans fail to make the necessary plays.
But what makes me believe this team is so unlikely to turn things around is the lack of accountability on display every night. Players are required to make themselves available to the media after the games. But far too often, everybody has cleared out after a bad loss. David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez have left without a whimper. They might be out of answers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to fulfill their contractual obligations and speak.
Before yesterday’s loss, Dustin Pedroia pulled the ‘blame the media’ card, saying the team is done listening to all the hate. But how can he blame the media for blasting the players when those players aren’t showing up and backing each other up off the field, let alone on it? I admire Pedroia for wanting everyone to ban together, but calling out the media is the wrong move. It is yet another failure to be accountable.
I’m not saying the team needs to apologize for playing poorly. Rather, they need to accept that the boos they are hearing at Fenway and the criticism they are receiving from the media are a very real reflection of the way they’ve been playing. When Pedroia got a mock cheer for catching a pop-up Sunday afternoon after losing two earlier, he was livid. He believes he deserves more respect from the fans. But what he and the rest of the team need to realize right now is that the fans are appropriately fed up. The post-World Series grace period was last year. We are tired of seeing last-place, underachieving teams full of players who appear to to be doing little more than just collecting paychecks. And by paying to see bad baseball, we have the right to boo.
I don’t want to rag on Pedroia too much, especially when he’s one of two or three players performing well this year. But his comments the last two days are worrying. With nothing else to go on because so many people are staying silent, we have to take his words as representative of the team. And to me, these words are a statement of complacency and a sign that they aren’t looking in the mirror.
I’m not set on getting rid of John Farrell or Ben Cherington at the moment, but I do think something needs to be done to shake up this roster. Bring up Jackie Bradley Jr. or Allen Craig and give them a real chance in the outfield. Take Mike Napoli out of the lineup for more than just a two-day mental break. Take Hanley Ramirez out of the game in the 6th inning for defensive reasons. Do something to make everybody less comfortable. Maybe then they’ll see themselves for what they really are right now.
But regardless, this is the team we’ve got this year. We’ve got to hope that they’re going to play better even if it’s hard to believe. But that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to booing Red Sox players simply because they are Red Sox. They aren’t entitled to my undying adulation even as Sweet Caroline plays in the background.