In hope of looking forward to Opening Day 2013 like we did Opening Day 2011--all other comparisons aside. (Photo by Gail Oskin/Getty Images)
So by now, most of us seem ready to accept that 2012 simply is not the Red Sox' season. Blame who you want--we've had that argument time and again--for now the Sox have to get through these last 45 games, and then move on as quickly as possible.
The question is, can they just move on?
Right now, this team is an absolute mess in every aspect of the word. The combination of a clubhouse that's produced controversial story after controversial story, an ill-constructed roster weighed down by massive contracts, and a good few underperforming stars even going beyond the guys we've accepted are simply not going to perform (see: Lackey, John).
It's gotten to the point where it's all-too-difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Will this team be able to attract anyone in free agency who has their choice of a few different teams? Will the players be able to get over their personal problems so that these stories don't keep dragging the club down? Will the stars play like stars again?
These last 45 days aren't likely to mean a lot when it comes to getting into the postseason. The Sox would need not only a truly dramatic turnaround right now, but also some decent collapses on the parts of multiple other teams that do not seem imminent.
What they can provide is some hope for the future. As has been said often enough over the past 24 hours, you can't dump the entire roster. Some of these players--most of them, in fact--will be back for 2013.
My question to you, Red Sox fans, is what can they do to provide that light at the end of the tunnel? What kind of performances do you need to see from them individually to give you reason to really hope for better? What kind of news do you need to see coming from the clubhouse?
Right now the Sox seem to be stuck in a downward spiral, and when there seems to be little hope left for the season it's all-too-easy for a team to simply throw themselves into that muck. If the stories from the clubhouse are to be believed, then it seems like this bunch is indulging in that at least on some level.
But baseball is not self-contained within a season. It doesn't simply end after October and reset. What the Sox do over these next 45 days could make a great difference in how they're perceived headed into 2013, whether by the media, the fan base, or themselves.
What do they need to do over these last 45 days to make them a small success in a larger failure?