Going into the 2017 ALDS, most Red Sox fans possessed a fair amount of cautious optimism. There was excitement at the opportunity to play for a World Series title, while celebrating the first ever back-to-back AL East division titles.
In a season filled with ups and downs, many fans didn’t know what to expect with this Red Sox teams. At times, they looked like world beaters, coming from behind against the Cleveland Indians and dominating opponents. However, with as much success, there was an equal amount of concern.
Chris Sale struggled down the stretch, the bullpen began to waver, and the injury bug began to show its ugly head. Xander Bogaerts had a fantastic first half of the season, yielding much consideration for the AL Final Vote, but fell prey to a hand injury that derailed much of his success in the second half. Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia were consistently beat up, while recently acquired Eduardo Nunez went down. Perhaps the Nunez injury was most concerning.
When Nunez was acquired, the Red Sox were riding the wave of the rookie, Rafael Devers, but Nunez set fire to a seemingly ice-cold offense.
As the ALDS kicked off, the Red Sox were immediately punched in the metaphorical mouth. Jose Altuve torched the Sox pitching staff for three homeruns, while the rest of the Astros’ offense followed suit.
Friday was no different. The Astros came out hot and quickly chased Drew Pomeranz from the game.
The Red Sox have officially mailed it in.
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) October 6, 2017
It begs the question, what is wrong with this Red Sox team?
From the beginning of the ALDS, it is clear that there appears to be no leader within the Red Sox clubhouse. Yes, Dustin Pedroia is outspoken and is the leader, but there is no spark. David Ortiz is not there. Terry Francona is not there. This team needs to find its identity.
Yes, there is youth within the Red Sox clubhouse and yes, there is talent. However, do any of the current Red Sox players have “It?”
“It,” a small word that has always carried a large amount of weight in the baseball world. For years, my father would tell me that potential is one thing, but having the “it” factor is what separates the men from the boys. This word goes beyond individual talent, but when the game is on the line, who will step up?
The postseason is where legends are born. There is no Madison Bumgarner, no David Ortiz, no Dave Roberts, no Kevin Millar, in the Red Sox clubhouse.
There is little question that this team has talent. There are future all stars and potential AL MVP’s on this team, but do any of them have it? Can they rise to the occasion when it matters the most? Most of the pitching staff and lineup have immense individual talent and have flashed moments of greatness, but will they prove it in October?
This raises some red flags. Losing two games in the ALDS is one thing, but getting flat out embarrassed is another – and that is what has happened. From the start, this team has seemed apathetic and in pure shock. Are the Astros a better team? Probably. Six runs better? Absolutely not.
Immediately, the lack of energy should fall on John Farrell’s shoulders. He is the leader of the dugout and should be a positive impact. He appears to be shocked at the results, yet the Red Sox are play uninspired, lazy, and disappointing baseball.
The Houston Astros appear to be locked in and focused on a deep run in October. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox appear to be on an AL East hangover that has carried over into the ALDS.
Prove something to us Boston. Show us that you care. Win, or lose, Red Sox nation will be there, but this embarrassment through two games is disheartening.
If the Red Sox get swept on Sunday, Dave Dombrowski needs to take full inventory of his ball club and determine the fates of a few Red Sox players, and staff members.
Swept in back-to-back years?
In the words of Dennis Eckersley, yuck.