I understand what David Ortiz was doing with his “it’s time to panic” headline grabber.
Ortiz is a far better psychologist and leader than his lovable Big Papi persona would indicate and he’s playing bad cop to manager Terry Francona‘s good cop.
Francona will maintain his composure and preach a sense of urgency without the aforementioned panic.
With a predominately veteran team, the influence on either will be negligible.
The bottom line is this: if this current construction of the Red Sox were what they started the season with, they’d be picked for fourth place in the AL East.
Kevin Youkilis is out; Josh Beckett is out (but is expected back soon); Clay Buchholz is out; J.D. Drew is out. Their rotation behind Jon Lester has a fourth starter with an ERA over 6 in John Lackey; Tim Wakefield, a beloved veteran whose quest for his 200th career win has reached satirical proportions and who’s being asked to do far more than his 44-year-old body—knuckleball aside—is capable of; a talented journeyman for whom it’s about time we accept that this is what he is in Andrew Miller; and a rookie, Kyle Weiland.
The 2011 Red Sox are eerily similar to the 2007 Mets in more ways than this slow-torture collapse and fans repeatedly saying (not asking, saying), “is this really happening”. There’s an air of doom surrounding them that no amount of cajoling, yelling and eloquent speechmaking can extinguish. They’re locked in a vacancy in which their only path to the playoffs is going to be the Wild Card; and they have a young Rays team with nothing to lose pursuing them.
Those Mets were undone in large part by playing the Washington Nationals managed by former Mets coach Manny Acta; these Red Sox are beginning a series against a team managed by their former pitching coach John Farrell; much like Acta, don’t think Farrell is going to do the Red Sox any favors this week; if anything, he’s going to tell his players that this is their playoffs and if they want to contend next season they’re going to have to get used to playing in games where the world is watching.
And the world is watching the Red Sox now to see if they come apart.
They still have time to pull it together.
The question is, will they?