NEW YORK - The will to care about the 2019 Red Sox is slipping away as inexorably as a toddler's last lead-lidded blink before bedtime.
However encouraged Red Sox fans felt last weekend after watching their team take five of six from the Rays and Yankees, they're in grave danger of tumbling over the precipice and into an abyss of apathy.
Friday night brought more misery in the form of a perfunctory 4-2 loss to the Yankees that included one inning of action and eight innings of inevitability. The Red Sox raced to a 2-0 lead, watched Eduardo Rodriguez give it right back with a first-inning grand slam and that was the end of that.
Like one of those videos of slow-motion destruction when a car loses its brakes on an icy hill and just casually drifts into every mailbox, tree, and Toyota Celica until slamming into a parked dump truck, it feels like the Red Sox have begun their slide to irrelevance and there's nothing we can do to stop it except watch and hope no one gets hurt.
The team's fifth loss in a row just reinforced the notion that when the story of this season is written -- not that anyone will necessarily care to read it -- the tipping point will end up being the July 31 trade deadline and the too-honest press conference Dave Dombrowski conducted in its actionless aftermath.
If the jaws of fans and media dropped when he admitted that the Red Sox weren't close enough to contention to sacrifice pieces of the future for short-term fixes, imagine the reaction of the players. They had basically just been told they were on their own.
The ensuing uneasiness caused manager Alex Cora to make a rare public misstep of his own, when he said he'd be calling a meeting to address the final two months and the challenge that awaits. The meeting was news to his players, who still knew nothing of it on Friday afternoon beyond what they'd read in the media, which led to Cora backtracking more purposefully than Danny Torrance in The Shining and sounding considerably frazzled in the process.
Asked whether he was joking or had changed his mind, Cora said, "All of the above," and then laughed uncomfortably. He tried to explain that he had misspoken and didn't mean to imply he had called a formal meeting, but PR damage done.
Not that it really matters. Now that we know with 1,000 percent certainty that help isn't coming, it's hard to envision the 180 that would be required to salvage their season. What you see is what you get, and what we've seen to this point is hardly worth getting excited about.
And so, we dutifully chronicle a march to futility, just as we did in lost-cause seasons like 2006 and 2010, when the Sox simply never kicked it into gear. Both of those seasons ended shy of the playoffs, and it's worth noting that the Red Sox are now closer to the eighth-place Angels in the wild-card chase (three games) than to the Rays, whom they trail by four games.
That is not a recipe for an action-packed stretch run, and that's bad news for the marketing folks who care about buzz and virality. With the Patriots beginning the defense of yet another Super Bowl title next month and the Celtics and Bruins preparing for training camp, the Red Sox are in danger of being swallowed whole. Eyeballs and attention must be constantly earned in this City of Champions, and if the Red Sox aren't careful, they'll just be playing out the string.
Last year's title has never felt so distant. It's a new year, and it's slipping through our fingers like the last sands of summer.
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