This time last year was a dismal time for Red Sox fans. We honestly thought we couldn’t sink any further. Ho, Ho, Ho! Then we met Bobby Valentine. We’re now told that one of the strengths he brought to the job was his experience and maturity, characteristics which would help him fit in and deal with the big egos and big entitlements which were clearly part of the Red Sox clubhouse – and which cost them in 2011. In the end, history will record exactly the opposite happened. Instead of rising above the posturing he locked horns with the personalities and, ultimately, drove them out or simply had them shipped-out.
It is undeniable that injuries played a part in the story, but it is equally clear the rot set in early with Jason Varitek being edged into retirement. Soon after the season started, Valentine publicly questioned the commitment of Kevin Youkilis and, as he evidently favoured Will Middlebrooks over the veteran, Youk’s departure was inevitable. Throw into that mix Valentine’s decision to take a gig on New York sports radio and even by then the only thing which would redeem him in the eyes of the Boston fans would be a World Series ring.
The season occasionally spluttered in a vaguely positive direction, but it was occasional and spluttering. By the All Star Break and the return of Dice-K, the pattern was inexorably set. The mid-season fire sale which saw some of the big names (not to mention the ego & payroll) was official acknowledgement that the season was done. So we had the situation where most of the active roster at the end of the season began it playing in the minor leagues. And don’t even breathe the name Alfredo Aceves in Nick’s presence!
So what about 2013? The pundits seem to favour a deal with the Blue Jays to bring Boston favourite John Farrell back, and I think that would go down well with the fans. Plan B revolves around another home-grown candidate in Tim Bogar, with ‘Tek seen as the wild card candidate.
My view: Given how wrong we were in our depth perception this time last year, boy-oh-boy did they get it wrong in making Terry Francona the scapegoat. The Tito years were self-evidently the best the Red Sox have ever seen and if ever there was an object lesson in taking the rough with the smooth, the 2012 Boston Red Sox served it up perfectly.