Red Sox demise was predictable, cause is not
What happened? What in the wide ding-dong world of sports has happened? How could my well-ordered universe collapse like this? Last week at this time I’m celebrating, on the verge of a full-blown gloat; now I’m awaiting hockey season.
Like the rest of Red Sox Nation, I’ve witnessed some serious chokes over the years, but this one rivals anything in the regular season (I’m not counting playoffs and World Series) since ’78, when they blew a 13-game lead in September. But this year they decided not to wait, dashing our hopes in August. In the veritable blink of an eye – actually a five-game series with the Great Satan in Fenway – they contradicted Yogi, losing all five and thus proving that sometimes it’s over before it’s over.
The only plausible explanation I can come up with – as if there were ever anything plausible about the Red Sox – is that they figured it would be easier on the fans to eliminate themselves from the pennant race now, rather than wait until the last possible moment to blow it like they usually do. The process of extracting the most possible grief from the fans has been refined over the years to the point of being an art form; this is just the latest permutation.
But wait. This is pre-’04 talk. This is the way we used to view the world before the Curse was broken. This is supposed to be a new day, a case of role reversal when the hunter has become the hunted. Just as the other Lucifer who shares a first name with the real Great Satan would try to convince us that we were engaging in “pre-9-11 reasoning,” so is this pre-’04 logic. There were supposed to be, as Bill Maher might say, some “new rules” in place that nullified our old way of thinking that cast us as perennial victims, bridesmaids, losers.
Apparently not. If last week’s Boston Massacre proved anything it is that the old rules still apply, that 2004 was but an aberration, that nothing fundamentally has changed in the baseball universe. Instead of the Curse of the Bambino, hereinafter we will be saddled with the Curse of Damon.
Dadgummit, all year I’ve had this thing figured out. It’s been clear to me that the Red Sox helped themselves in the off-season more than any team in baseball. Getting Josh Beckett from the Marlins gave them the quality starter they needed and the emergence of rookie Johnathon Papalbon gave them the best closer in baseball. Mike Lowell and Alex Gonzalez solidified the left side of the infield, and second baseman Mark Loretta emerged as an all-star. Kevin Youkalis took over at first and ex-Indian Coco Crisp replaced Damon in center without missing a beat. The result is the best defense in the majors, and the numbers back it up. Then you have the most feared one-two punch the game has seen since Ruth-Gehrig in Manny and Big Papi, and all the elements are in place for another World Series triumph.
And in the time it took to dismantle Ebbets Field it all comes crumbling down.
Steinbrenner’s modus operandi (by the way, it’s no coincidence that both George Steinbrenner and Great Satan can be abbreviated to GS) is always to buy overpriced talent and watch them underproduce once they become members of the Evil Empire. So, when he bought Bobby Abraeu from the Phillies, I saw no need to push the panic button. It was they, realizing that the balance of power had shifted, who were doing the panicking.
What has happened since then defies explanation – at least in baseball terms. No, this can’t even be explained in metaphysical terms; it’s much bigger even than the Curse. But there is an explanation, and it’s very simple: Somehow, it’s all George W. Bush’s fault.
Stay with me here: Everything bad that’s happened since the turn of the century can be traced to Bush. He was as inept as a Texas Rangers owner as he is a president, trading Sammy Sosa for a couple of turds. But specifically, he hates the blue state of Massachusetts, home of Kerry and the Kennedys. It is also the state that elected gay congressman Barney Frank, and Bush, by his actions, obviously hates gay men. But he loves, again by his actions, to make very rich men even richer, and therefore loves George Steinbrenner. They are two peas in a pod, deserving only of each other.
So, my suggestion is that Steinbrenner hire his pal to run the Yankees, thereby accomplishing two good ends: Mercifully, it gets him out of the Oval Office, and in no time at all he will have bankrupted the Yankees like he did America. He will attempt to transform the game like he has Iraq by demanding that everyone must play right field, bat right-handed and pitch right-handed. No lefties here in the newly named Bush Stadium. And finally, he’ll consolidate the leagues like he has the Arab world and call it’… Bush League.
Ogi may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, heard each Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. on “The Dusty Dunn Show” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen each Friday at 6:30 a.m. on ABC45 and Sunday at 10 p.m. on UPN48 on “Triad Today.”