Ever since the Red Sox were bounced by the Astros in the 2021 ALCS, they’ve had a bumpy road. A last-place finish in 2022 followed by an off-season in which many questioned each and every roster move the team made. In a division loaded with talent, it can be hard to see the light on the other side of the darkness.
Rooting for a bad baseball team is frustrating. The season spans long, hot days and a team’s flaws are often times unfixable. If you’re like me, you look forward to a new season, go to as many games as possible, live and die with the team, and try to hold onto hope that they may turn a corner, even when the signs aren’t promising. Once it becomes evident that your team isn’t up to snuff, those evenings spent at the ballpark praying for a win can become a chore. You find yourself clinging on to nothing more than the hope for a moment of individual brilliance that brings you back for another day.
What’s worse than losing is seeing the game play out and knowing exactly how it’s going to go before it’s over. You’ve been there 100 times before. You know that your team swings out of its shoes and strikes out in big moments. You know that your team has trouble with infield defense, giving away free outs. You know that, at best, that starter is going four innings and allowing four runs. It’s worse than losing because it makes you think, “What’s the point?”
It’s baseball though; it can’t possibly be this bad forever. You may give up on the season, but you don’t give up on the team. Instead, you look for someone to blame. Maybe it’s the struggling superstar, making tens of millions of dollars to seemingly not even try. Maybe it’s the GM, who was at the forefront of assembling the team. Or maybe, it’s the worst reliever in the bullpen.
That’s where Ryan Brasier comes in. Almost every time he entered the game, you knew what was going to happen. He was never the first option, almost exclusively being called upon out of necessity. Oftentimes, things got out of hand. Two run deficits turned into five and several innings of collective shortcomings were boiled down to two words from everyone in the stadium, “fucking Brasier”.
I’m not here to defend Brasier’s pitching ability, he was bad more often than he was good. I am here to point out that he was a goat, taking the blame for all that was wrong with the Red Sox. Maybe it was the crook in his neck, giving him a perpetually confused expression. Maybe it was the fact that he didn’t seem to care, rarely showing emotion after being lifted from the game. Or maybe it was that his name is perfect for pissed-off Bostonians to say as they walk down Landsdowne - “fahkin Brasiah”. Whatever the case, there will always be blown leads, there will always be meltdown outings, and someone will have to take the heat. Through it all, Brasier was a uniting force through some frustrating seasons, even if we were united in negativity. For that reason, and that reason alone, Ryan Brasier will be missed.