I hate to say that i called it, but whatever. These Boston players didn't look like men poised and ready. They didn't look like they were ready to pounce on any pitch left in the strike zone (there were a lot of called first strikes.) Boston didn't look like the same team, ready to pick each other up and work together to manufacture a win at whatever the cost. They just looked tired.
It's a shame really. An embarassment. To be swept like that in Fenway with a billion fans watching is a crime which will not be forgotten easily.
The team knew that they were on the ropes. Despite amazing shots from Ortiz and Manny (2,) the offense which led the majors couldn't string together any kind of hits. They're best chance in the sixth, bases loaded with no outs, was squandered. When Varitek, our supposed captain, fouled out, it set the tone. We would get close, but never close the door on what is a inferior Chicago White Sox team.
That's right, I said it. The White Sox, to a man, were not better than their Red opponents. But they played like they were. Konerko and Everett do not compare to Manny and Ortiz. I would even argue that their pitching staff doesn't have the same raw talent that ours does (or did.) But the performance wasn't there because Boston didn't want to win.
Who can say why? They could have had enough. After 162 games in 5 months, they wanted to go home to their families. Damon is more worried about his contract. The big news on Friday was Ramirez's search for a new agent, not what he was going to do to win that night. And even after hitting two home runs, manny didn't seem to care that the season was over.
And I'll reiterate what I've been saying to Rain Delay for almost a year. It was a mistake to let Pedro and D-Lowe go. The 2005 postseason might even be a refutation of the whole Money Ball concept. The numbers were there, but OBP doesn't mean crap if nobody wants to win. I do think Epstein is a brilliant young GM, and it would have been impossible to recreate the magic of 2004, but the gambles didn't work this year. The OC would have been a bigger asset than Renterror, and I'd rather have D-Lowe as a No. 3 starter than Wade (shoulder never healed) Miller.
We can play second-guessing all winter long but the fact is that the season is over. I predict the core team of 2004 will dismantle. Damon is gone. Manny is gone. Schilling will retire (if he knows what's good for him) and so will Wells. Varitek and Wake are locked in, but you can kiss Millar goodbye. If Epstein is smart (which we all know he is,) 2006 will be about bringing in the young talent. Papelbon, Shoppach, Hanley Ramirez and Craig Hansen will get the time they need to develop into the stars they have the capability to be. And hopefully Theo will get a us a fucking bullpen.
But overall, the 2005 did more for Red Sox nation than is first realized. The Red Sox are not comfortable being favored to win anything. Defending Champions is a hard moniker to bear. Every team has your number and wants a piece of you. Let's face it, the Red Sox are not built to be a dynasty. How many fans were quoted, "I don't know what to do, now that we've won"? And it's true, the Red Sox are underdogs. We'd rather be losers with a fool's shot at winning than a powerhouse that everyone expects to dominate. Leave that to that evil franchise to the south.
So the real Red Sox are back. We have a new hard-luck story (Graffanino's gaffe [how's that for an already overused headline?] in Game 2) and our underdog status has returned. 2004 is part of the history now, not recent news. We have a new cross to bear.
And to be honest I felt like they did. I was tired. I didn't know if I could wear my heart on my sleeve for the rest of the postseason. I was not looking forward to defending my passion for the Sox against the onslaught of Yankee jeers at work. It's over. It was a good run, I invested a lot of emotion into that team, but now I'm busted. I am at zero.
The perfect place to start 2006.