Some cold Fenway years are coming

I had really hoped that I’d be talking about Game 1 and 2 versus Texas and how the Red Sox fared.

Instead I am looking at an aftermath of a collapse so horrible that we Red Sox fans are thinking “How did THIS happen again?”

(And Braves fans are thinking “Thanks for deflecting attention away from us.”)

Now there is a logical way to look at The Great Collapse of 2011.
The team’s pitching staff was thin. Buchholz and Dice-K were hurt, Wakefield is done, Lackey is a bust and Andrew Miller showed why the Tigers and Marlins gave up on him.

Throw in some key injuries (Youk and Drew) and an inconsistent Lester down the stretch (and a shockingly awful Daniel Bard) and you have a lousy September.

Logically you look at it and say “Get rid of some deadwood, use the money coming off the books from Drew and Dice-K for arms but don’t get seduced by a Lackey deal again.”

Instead what is the aftermath?
Francona is gone.
The clubhouse is fractured.
Some of the not exactly cuddly personalities are running the asylum.
Theo, whose post 2007 record hasn’t exactly been sterling, is escaping blame.

And no doubt Papelbon, Ortiz, Wakefield, Varitek and others will be gone soon.

Get used to John Lackey in a Sox uniform.
Don’t expect Carl Crawford to go anywhere.

Someone else will be the manager.

This era is over. And with it be prepared to have some lean times and some REALLY embarrassing baseball.

Look at the Cubs and Mets. Big budget and big market teams who can’t put a winner on the field. Two teams hamstrung by the “We just went for it” contracts of a few years ago. The managers have gone as have the post season appearances.

That’s going to be the Red Sox starting in 2012.
Expensive, not competitive and hard to watch.

Oh I will root for them and hope to be surprised. But everything is pointing to a bunch of empty Octobers in Fenway.

The best teams I remember seeing in my life include the Yankees, Royals, Phillies and Dodgers of the late 1970s, early 1980s… the Mets of the mid 1980s… the A’s from 1988-1992, the Blue Jays from the mid 1980s through the 1993 World Series… the Braves from 1991 to 2005… and the Joe Torre Yankees.

They all ended.

This era for the Red Sox is ending.
There will be another Red Sox champion. Maybe Pedroia and Ellsbury and Lester will be the veteran champions who lead that team.

But it won’t be soon.
This is Philadelphia’s time to shine.

And someday soon they will return to earth.
Just like the Sox did.

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Why I won’t call Ryan Howard’s contract a bad one

People who complain about Ryan Howard’s contract and bitch and moan about him not being an elite player can point to numbers.

They can show that his stats are declining and the days of sluggers mysteriously getting better later in life have ended.

I get it.
But they don’t get what a Ryan Howard can mean to Philadelphia.

First of all he has come through and helped give Phillies fans some great memories. He’s an MVP, a World Champion who hit some big homers in the 2008 World Series.

He was the MVP of the 2009 NLCS. And he’s a home grown star.

He’s someone that Phillies fans can invest emotion in and can cheer whether they come through (as in the 2009 series against Los Angeles) or doesn’t (last year against San Francisco.)

So when he comes up and launches a go ahead homer in the playoffs like he did tonight, he is flushing VORP, OPS+ and WAR down the toilet.

He is creating MEMORIES and making fans HAPPY and giving them reason to cheer him on years from now instead of seeing him in an Astros uniform or something.

Other players will have better Sabermetrics than Howard. And none will give tough fans like Phillies fans a lifetime of joy and positive memories.

That’s worth every penny.
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