Despite the disapointing ending to the 2011 season, it's hard to make a case for the Red Sox doing anything other than being eliminated quickly had they made the divisional round of the playoffs. Yes, in a short series anything can happen blah blah blah, but this was a team that didn't win back to back games for over a month. Yes -- I'm going to begin a second consecutive sentence with "Yes" -- the Red Sox won two in Texas on August 27th and then weren't able to replicate that feat for the remainder of the season. That's a feat in the way a four year old not pooping his pants at the mall is a feat. Good, but you're supposed to able to handle that now. Hope the Red Sox packed an extra pair of Superman under roos!
Staying with this theme, the starting pitching was the baseball equivalent of another Kevin Costner movie: weak, predictable, and somehow worse than you expected. If anything could be both weak and worse than you expected it was the 2011 Red Sox starting staff. And Kevin Costner. Or, if some of you prefer, the equivalent of a Matthew Kory joke: weak, predictable, and contained more poop than you have liked to know about. The offense wasn't nearly so bad, but injuries were taking a toll on what had once been an almost historically talented group. So there were problems. Those problems were very likely to be too much even if the events of September 28th hadn't been a bucket of bricks to the genital area.
When a team of the skill level, expectations and payroll of the 2011 Red Sox fails on the scale which they did, there will be blood. And if we're all not careful John Henry will drink our milkshakes. Or invite us onto his yacht and then dive-bomb us down the stairs. There have been and will be changes, all with the goal of preventing the 2012 Red Sox from being oil tanker truck crashing through the window of Big Bob's Fireworks Emporium bad like their predecessor.
There will be new blood in the manager's office and on the coaching staff and though Tim Bogar is enthusiastically encouraging me to continue this sentence I'll stop right here. A new manager isn't likely to turn a 90 win team into a 100 win team, but as was noted during the endless series of press conferences (I think we're still due for one featuring Terry Francona, Tom Werner in a clown suit, and a squirrel water skiing behind a remote control boat), a new perspective might be not only useful but needed. The drinking in the clubhouse during the game could be a bit over blown, but it's also doesn't fall under the rubric of professional behavior, and I suspect that like most of the information that has gone public in the last few days, it's only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
I'm not one of those people who thinks managers are the end all and be all. So, basically, I'm not Tony La Russa. I subscribe to what our own Patrick Sullivan said, when he wrote (and I'm paraphrasing) managers make a difference in the margins. To redirect back to the topic at hand, I don't believe any manager could have won with this group. Put La Russa or John Farrell or John McGraw in the manager's office and the Sox still end up basically where they were, though McGraw's decaying odor and racist attitude would have come with their own set of problems. A new manager and staff won't solve all the team's problems, but it's a start.
More important than the managerial situation is that we as people tend to over rate recent events. For example, last off season we looked at the 2009 Red Sox and thought, 'Add Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and some health and look at this team fly!' And fly they did, like a little kid in a batman costume jumping off a three story house. Because the 2010 Red Sox weren't the 2009 Red Sox + Carl Crawford + Adrian Gonzalez + Health. They were the 2010 Red Sox, an entirely different animal. The 2012 Red Sox will also be different. They'll have different players, different problems and different strengths, their competition will be different and the environment in which they play will be different as well. This, in case you didn't figure, is a good thing.
So bring on a new team, bring on some new players, bring on the 2012 Red Sox. So bring on 2012. Spring Training starts in a little over four months and, sick though it makes, me I'm psyched for it.
(No disrespect to all the teams still in the playoffs, but honestly, I don't give a rat's patootie.)