Season-altering Red Sox victory, Take 2 . . .
Listen, if the Sox are going to salvage this horrible season, a win like last night is a great place to start. Then again, two weeks ago was a better place to start. Opening Day in Detroit would have been even better. And when you really think about it, is there anything about the Red Sox right now that makes them more apt to succeed than they've been at any other point this year?
Why is now different than then? Why is this the time they finally turn things around?
Answer: It's probably not. As a result, it's probably better to stay grounded this afternoon and be pleasantly surprised by a potential turnaround, than to get your hopes up and watch the Sox go down 7-0 in the first inning tonight against Detroit.
Maybe that's a depressing and defeatist way to look at it, but after 11 months in this Red Sox hell, what other choice do we have? How many times can we be fooled before taking a stand and saying: "Unless something changes, nothing's going to change."
And that's why, as uplifting as last night was, the weekend on the whole was somewhat bittersweet. On one hand, it's always nice to see them beat the Yankees. Especially on the road. Especially on National TV. Winning a series at the Stadium will always serve as a source of happiness, regardless of the circumstances.
On the other hand, with consecutive wins over the first place Yanks, there's no question that the front office will now be less inclined than ever to make a change before tomorrow's deadline. Or if they do, it will be a move that helps boosts the team's current image at the expense of the future. A move that allows the Sox to throw another layer of makeup on their pig of a clubhouse and pretend that nothing's wrong.
Can't you just hear Larry Lucchino on the phone after last night's game: "Two of three against the Yankees?! Ha! We've got them, baby! The fans are will buy this hook, line and sinker. They'll think we have a chance . . . so now we must exploit them! We must act! We'll spin these wins so fast that those idiots won't know what hit them. They'll start snatching up tickets like it's 2004! Bahahaha!"
To put it another way: This weekend's series will likely fool the Sox into thinking that they can fool the fans. Again.
No one will fall for it. Again.
And that will leave us in the same place we are now. In this disgruntled no man's land where nothing is real. Where everything feels like a facade. Where fans are still waiting for inspiration andor any reason to genuinely connect with a team that they once loved so much.
And it's too bad, because despite what ownership thinks fans want i.e. high-priced well-known players who can give off the air of competitiveness what they really want is very accessible. It's right here. Or in some cases, it might right down the road in Pawtucket.
You look at a guy like Pedro Ciriaco, who even before his weekend heroics had injected serious excitement into this team. You look at how quickly everyone identified with Will Middlebrooks. Same goes for Felix Doubront. Even a player like Ryan Kalish. Real fans love rooting for guys like that. They love watching young players come up and ignite hope for the future.
Now obviously, I'm not saying the Sox should hit the reset button and go for a complete rebuild over at Fenway. That kind of thing doesn't fly around here. Instead, I'm saying that it's time to be realistic: No matter what happens at the deadline, it's much more likely that the Sox will come up short this fall than it is that they'll go on to another title.
We can agree on that, right?
Right. So, why keep pretending? It's almost like the owners believe that the fans will take any hint that the Sox aren't serious about winning the championship this year as a reason to write the team off and ignore the Sox all together. That giving off the vibe that they're still a contender is the only way to inspire the fan base. But that's not true.
The truth is that while Red Sox Nation is running low on patience, it's not the kind of patience that ownership thinks. Sure, everyone wants to see another World Series title, but in reality, we once waited 86 years for that, five years isn't that bad. The patience we're waning thin on is the patience for their lies and deceit. It's not that there's no more hope, it's that everyone's just sick of the false hope.
Fans are smart. Fans are real. The Red Sox continue to treat them as they're neither.
That's why people aren't going to Fenway as much anymore. That's why interest in the team is down.
So, if you're not going to win this year, anyway, you might as well field a team that's likable. That actually provides some hope for the future. A group of players that still have every thing to play for, and so much to prove. That's the stuff that inspires and excites fans.
Not overpaid, disgruntled and jaded superstars.
At some point, you'd like to think that the owners will realize that, but after this weekend, it probably won't happen this season.