Dan Shaughnessy: Now is not the time to mince words: The Red Sox stink
NEW YORK — The Red Sox stink. They lost to the Yankees, 5-3, Wednesday after Ryan Brasier surrendered a grand slam to Brett Gardner on an 0-and-2 pitch in the seventh inning. The Sox are 6-13 and a whopping 8½ games out of first place.
I grew up on Hub hardball gloom. I came of age as a baseball fan when the Red Sox annually finished eighth in a 10-team league and flirted with 100 losses. I learned talk radio at the right hand of Eddie Andelman, who perfected the sky-is-falling mind-set of Red Sox Nation.
I did a Sunday night TV show with Bob Lobel, who had a panic button on the set and kept saying, “Why can’t we get players like that?’’ every time an ex-Red Sox did something good for some other team. I wrote “The Curse of the Bambino,’’ my doctoral thesis on Red Sox negativity.
And yet, with all this training, with a lifetime of jokes, chokes, and front office buffooneries, I am having a hard time getting my head around the crazy notion that the 2019 Red Sox might not make the playoffs.
Seriously. I write these words not because I am an agent of Sox/Globe owner John Henry. Not because I have gone Full Rochie. Not because I root, root, root for the home team.
It simply makes no sense to me. How can a healthy team with the fattest payroll in baseball . . . a championship team that won 119 games last year and brought back virtually every player . . . a team that plays in the Tomato Can age of MLB tanking . . . how can this team not be one of 10 teams to make it to the 2019 postseason tournament?
Sorry, I am just not buying. I know we are all tired of hearing about how it’s still early. We’re sick of Alex Cora saying “We’ll be fine.’’ Tired of the stubborn, smarter-than-everybody Sox refusing to admit they failed to prepare properly in Fort Myers, Fla. All that is painfully obvious now.
I’ve seen some of the numbers that indicate that a team can take itself out of contention in April. The Globe’s intrepid Alex Speier points out that during the wild card era, only two of 46 teams that started 6-12 went on to make the playoffs.
Swell. But how in the name of Izzy Alcantara can these Red Sox be this bad?
The Sox have yet to win a series. They went 2-6 on the West Coast. They went 3-3 at Fenway against moribund teams from Toronto and Baltimore. They were outscored, 16-1, in back-to-back games vs. the Orioles and Yankees Monday and Tuesday. They got swept by a Yankee team with 12 players on the injured list.
Wednesday’s box score features six Sox batters living at or below the Mendoza Line. Mookie Betts is down to .200. Jackie Bradley Jr. is at .148, Steve Pearce .125, and Dustin Pedroia .100.
Sandy Leon has no grade point average. Zero. Point. Zero.
“We’re just searching,’’ Cora said.
Eight and a half games back on April 18?
“We’ve just got to play better,’’ said the manager. “Eight and a half. Seven and a half. Six and a half. We’ve got to play better. We looked better today. If you look at the game, we had a chance to take the starter out and go to the bullpen and add on, but we didn’t do that.”
Now they’re on to St. Pete. To play the first-place Rays.
“As always, we’re going to go down there and try to win the series. Sweep them, or win two out of three, and move on. That’s the goal in every series, and we haven’t done it yet. Maybe it’s time to get it done.”
Only 143 left to play. Time is running out.