NEW YORK — The trouble the Red Sox have publicly acknowledging reality this season is baffling, in part because their hooey is so pervasive.
Bad base running. Plane confrontations. Beanball wars.
They don’t always say “It’s not me, it’s them,” but there are too many “It’s not me” moments.
Look, the Sox can pretend their mistakes aren’t mistakes all they want as long as they end up on top of the division at the end of the regular season. But in the meantime, the team wide posturing tied to most everything questionable makes it harder to take them at their word.
If they don’t own up to obvious truths consistently, why believe what they say otherwise?
Here's one: The Red Sox are making too many outs on the bases. They entered Friday with 14 more than any other team, per Baseball-Reference.com. They had the fourth-best extra-base taken percentage, at 44 percent — but that’s still five percentage points off the leader, Torey Lovullo's Diamondbacks.
Eduardo Nunez made a mistake in Friday’s stinging 5-4 loss to the Yankees. He shouldn’t have run on Aaron Hicks’ cannon while Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was on the ropes, making the second out of the ninth inning at third base.
Why couldn’t anyone simply call it that: a mistake?
You can be aggressive, as the Red Sox are, and make a mistake. Many mistakes. Too many.
“We have talked with our guys routinely and prior to every series in our advance meetings we talk about opportunities to look for, to take advantage of the running speed that we do have,” manager John Farrell said. “But I do believe there’s a means to an end with this. And while the outs are going to be glaring, I still feel like when we can put pressure on the defense, we’re going to look to set that tone.”
And at a certain point, Farrell sounds tone deaf.
No one is decrying the benefits of aggressiveness as a general philosophy, or suggesting it hasn’t paid off at moments. But the Red Sox are about to blow past their number of outs made on the bases last season with 47 games to go. One more ties last year’s mark of 65.
You can make tremendous contributions since joining the team, as Nunez has, and slip up. No player’s been praised more, nor deserved more praise, than the Godsend for a lineup that needed a lift in a big way.
“If it happened tomorrow, I would take the chance tomorrow again,” Nunez said. “That’s how we play the game. That was a great throw, that was a great pick for Frazier, and an amazing tag. Have to give the credit to them.”
Does Nunez really believe that? Is someone going to tell him on Saturday that he should not make the same attempt again, if given a chance? Doesn’t sound like it.
“That [choice is] on the runner right there,” Farrell said. “He’s not going to have time to look and see if [third-base coach Brian Butterfield] is giving him the go-ahead, that’s something that’s prepared for, that’s something that’s discussed prior to, because in the moment, that’s a split-second decision.”
It’s not an easy decision for any runner. Farrell always errs on the side of protecting his people. But he’s going overboard. As his base runners have, as David Price did on that plane.
It’s OK for people to admit fault. The manager, the players, whoever. Accountability may be a two-way street, but the Red Sox don't know where it is.