The Red Sox were defenestrated by the Astros on Monday night when they ran out of pitchers and made poor Kyle Barraclough suffer what was probably the worst night of his professional life, as he was battered to hell and back by a fire-breathing Astros team in a 13-5 loss that, along with Jarren Duran’s season-ending injury, may have ended their playoff hopes. In a year filled with dizzying highs and humiliating lows, this was another in the latter category, a satirically awful performance that can be pinned on a front office utterly without shame and, it seems, the ability to both walk and chew gum.
If the Sox’s playoff window was open at all, the Astros may have firmly shut it, behind a career night for the freakishly talented second baseman that they paid up for... unlike the Sox and Mookie Betts, who just got through with his own poetic on-field Boston-bashing. Then again, maybe the window isn’t just closed. Maybe it’s just broken. Maybe it’s just been incrementally pushed farther open to a point where it can’t budge anymore because it’s ultimately built wrong. Maybe shopping near-exclusively at the dollar store for parts cannot help but trap all of Red Sox nation in a crowded, loud room, arguing over who’s really the problem with the little oxygen we have left, the closed window dooming us to repeat these arguments over and over and over.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Even the most ardent Chaim Bloom supporters have to realize this. Even his detractors are starting to lose it. Both the editor of this site and Jared Carrabis, among many others, expressed how happy they are to see Mookie thriving in L.A. Stockholm Syndrome is real, people! On the flip side, I’ve said more than enough about Mookie (the betting favorite to win the NL MVP, ho-hum), but I was pleasantly surprised to see Sean McDonough, Bill Simmons and others take the opportunity to vent their spleen about that trade as I’ve been doing for years. I was unsurprised to see Chris Cotillo, among others, try to ahistorically describe the deal as a fait accompli, as if that makes it all better, but I’m used to it.
As McDonough noted, and fans everywhere but Boston realize, the Red Sox are nowhere near clear of this disgrace, no matter how many more disgraces they pile on top of it and how often they tell themselves they are:
What Carrabis was feeling here during the game, when he was charged up, was totally normal. The coping mechanism isn’t to emote about it; that’s the normal reaction. The coping mechanism is to say, like Cotillo and Carabbis previously did, that fans need to choose between Verdugo and Wong or a comp pick, because Mookie was gone anyway. That’s the problem, not the solution. The problem is they didn’t want to pay him and then, leveraging his singular star power, they exploited him in a grossly cynical way, setting the table for four years of management-by-cynicism, bringing us from the pre-COVID era to the Matt Dermody/Kyle Barraclough Sox who, despite years of supposedly getting their house in order, refuse to give themselves even an inch of breathing room.
Four seasons of this nonsense. Four seasons of crying poor after making a deal you said you had to make to avoid having to cry poor. Can’t trade for a number four starter at the deadline because it’ll cost too much, after all. It’s unfair to the players, and, even in the context of the A.L. East, is damning. Yes, the Yankees are a shambles and it’s very entertaining, but the Yankees are a shambles because they’re failing. The Red Sox are a middling team because they’re doing exactly what they want to do, exactly how they want to do it. It might eventually make you happy, but right now it should make you mad. We all deserve better.