Monday, May 26, 2014
A Modest Proposal For the 2014 Red Sox - Use This Moment of Humiliation As A Turning Point
On July 24, 2004, the Boston Red Sox were not playing very good baseball. They trailed the dreaded Yankees by 9 1/2 games, and were losing 0-3 at Fenway Park when A-Rod came to the plate and was plunked by a Bronson Arroyo pitch. Words were exchanged, and then this iconic encounter took place. It was the defining moment of the 2004 regular season, and set the stage for the greatest comeback in baseball history when the Sox overcame a three game deficit to beat the Yankees and eventually win the World Series.
In essence, Varitek, the team Captain, was saying: "No mas!" The team at that moment reached deep down into their collective soul, found a level of pride and competitiveness that had been missing and turned around their season, and gave Red Sox fans the thrill of a lifetime.
Last night at the House or Horrors known as Tropicana Field, the scene pictured above took place. The Red Sox took umbrage when Yunel Escobar waltzed to third base with a 5 run lead late in a game that would turn out to be the Red Sox 10th straight loss. Jonny Gomes, heart and soul of the 2013 Red Sox Championship team, rushed in from his post in left field to instigate a philosophical discussion with Escobar about the efficacy of showing up one's opponent. Benches cleared, punches were thrown, Gomes and Escobar were ejected.
So far in this 2014 season, the Red Sox have been playing baseball at an abysmal level. Because of my work as a volunteer at Fenway Park's Autograph Alley, I am able to see quite a few Red Sox games. It has not been pleasant. Pitching, hitting, defense, base running have all been far below the level we have come to expect from major league ball players, much less defending World Series Champions. I cringe each time the Red Sox line-up is announced: "And here are your Defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox." It is embarrassing. It feels as one might feel if Miss America were continuing to make public appearances after gaining 50 pounds. If you are going to wear the crown, you had better still fit into the gown! Just sayin'!
There is still a lot of baseball to be played in 2014. I am hopeful that this year's version of the Red Sox may steal a page from the 2004 team, and use what happened last night in St. Petersburg as the impetus to discover a new depth of collective character. Kevin Millar used to talk about the need to "Cowboy Up." It is time for these Sox to "Man Up"!