A healthy way for Red Sox fans to view the 2012 season

OK, it is early in the season. But there is something so pure about how the Red Sox lost the first three games of the season that it actually is helpful and refreshing.

Remember last year? They had sky high expectations and started 0-6 and 2-10.
It was confusing.
It was perplexing.
It was unexpected.
And it haunted the Sox in September as they missed the post season by 2 swings.

This bad start?
Please, it is helpful.

First of all it clear illustrates what is wrong with the Red Sox.
What happens when you go to see the doctor?
The doctor asks “What’s the problem?”
You explain the problem and the doctor tries to help fix the problem.

That is EXACTLY what is happening with the Red Sox.
What seems to be the problem?
No starting pitcher is reliable other than Jon Lester, and even if the offense comes through, the bullpen stinks.

OK, then what is the solution?

I think for all Red Sox fans, we need to take a deep breath and remind ourselves 5 things.

1) There are 159 games left in the season.
2) The Tigers are actually one of the elite teams in the game.
3) The Red Sox are probably not going to make the playoffs.
4) That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
5) We ALL told everyone on the planet Earth that we just needed one World Series title before we died. We’ve had 2.

It is indeed a long season and who knows? The Red Sox could go on a nice winning streak. They could be getting the bad feelings out of the way early.

But guess what?
There might not be a quick fix.
Doctor’s can’t always prescribe a pill and sometimes surgery is needed.
Sometimes a natural healing process needs to happen.

And sometimes it is a good thing to have some pain in the body.
Pain tells us where the problem is.

And here is the Dr. Sully Diagnosis:

I’ve been saying this since Spring Training. The Red Sox are 8 players short of a pennant contender.
At least 2 starting pitchers… At least 2 Relief Pitchers… A Catcher… a Shortstop… A Rightfielder… And a Third Baseman for 2013 (Youkilis should become the full time DH after Ortiz’s contract expires.)

There is no way that they will fill 8 this year.
But 4 isn’t out of the question.

Imagine if the Red Sox develop 4 players this year.
Let’s say that the Jose Iglesias becomes the starting shortstop and fields his position well.
And Ryan Lavarnway shows he can be a decent big league catcher.

And someone like third baseman Will Middlebrooks or reliever Alex Wilson or Junichi Tazawa (who is only 26 years old) can fill holes in the team.

If that happens (which isn’t as unreasonable as asking a team to climb back from an 0-3 hole with Rivera on the mound), then the Red Sox will go into the 2013 season with Youkilis, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Lester, Ellsbury, depth up the middle and a slightly deeper pitching staff. Take Ortiz and Dice-K off the books and you fill the final 4 holes and BAM!

I see the 2013 Red Sox as legit pennant contenders.

That’s a healthy way to look at the season!

Not as a rebuilding season… but as a healing process.

And don’t give me the nonsense that “We can not accept anything less than a Championship team!”
Since when?
When did “Now I can die in peace” become “I need a miracle daily.”

The sooner we accept that we aren’t a playoff team the better. It will make this year a lot more fun to watch. It will be a recovery season where we see the new great Sox team rise from the ashes.

If they DO win it all, then great!
If they DO make the playoffs, then wow! It’s a bonus.

But if they have their third straight third place finish, at least we can say “At least we are heading in the right direction.”

Relax Sox fans.
Enjoy the season.

You are going to feel a little pinch.

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Mets… get out of that New York state of mind

After the Mets lackluster 2009 season, I wrote a blog post that said they should dismantle the team.

I urged them to trade away veterans and play young kids. Yeah they would stink for a few years. But I argued that they were going to stink anyway. Why not stink with young kids for a few years and put together a new young Met team that fans could embrace?

I made the point that the Yankees hit bottom in 1990 and by 1994 were pennant contenders and 1996 put together the greatest sports dynasty since the Big Red Machine.

I made the case that it was time to discover their Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada.

And I came across resistance.
And I heard a familiar refrain. “You can’t rebuild in this market.”
“You’ll lose the fan base.”
“Fans won’t accept a loser.”

So here we are two years later.

Two more losing seasons. And they are the WORST kind of losing seasons. The kind where the team is old hurt and boring. The kind where they are irrelevant and going into this season (which would have been the third year of a rebuilding process) they are banged up and can’t realistically aim any higher than fourth place.

And oh yeah, their ownership has entangled the team in an embarrassing financial scandal.

So I have having a conversation with Jason Keidel of WFAN in New York.

He lives breathes and defecates New York sports and knows it better than I’ll ever know it. We were talking about the Mets attendance woes and wondering about their prospects of drawing as many as 2 million fans without Reyes and with Wright hurt.

I said “The Mets HAVE to rebuild.”
And he pulled the same line. You can’t rebuild in New York. You’ll alienate the fans. The fans won’t come back. You can’t act like a rebuilding team with the Yankees in the same market… etc etc etc.

So more of the same?

For a New Yorker to say “I won’t accept a loser” is as much to the point as someone laid off from a job saying “I won’t accept being unemployed.”

It doesn’t matter what you accept. The reality shows something very clear. The Mets have had three straight 4th place finishes and three straight losing seasons since moving into CitiField.

Does ANYONE see them having a winning season this year? Finishing ahead of Philadelphia, Miami or Atlanta?

The fan base is already alienated. They are already disillusioned.
And the Yankees ARE better.

No amount of putting your hands over your ears and screaming LA LA LA LA LA will suddenly turn the Mets into contenders, make the fan base thrilled and over take the Yankees.

There’s a reason why Jose Reyes skipped town and it wasn’t all because of the dough. If YOU wanted to win, where would you rather go? A team loaded with young talent and excitement for the new season?

Or a bloated old team with no hope for contention?

The Marlins know a thing or two about rebuilding. Yeah they do firesales and put a team on the field that probably has a lower payroll than the Yankees AAA team from time to time. Then they emerge with an exciting team filled with stars.

And they have matched the Mets in World Series titles.

And when the time comes, they rebuild.

Ahhh… but there is the rub! That’s Miami. In New York you have to feed a beast of tons of money and unreasonable expectations on return. No wonder the Wilpons fell for the Madoff scheme.

I may have left Manhattan 7 years ago, but I witnessed first hand New York sports for a decade and a half and saw a disturbing trend with two and now three once proud teams.

I saw the euphoria of the Rangers Stanley Cup and the Knicks Finals run of 1994.

Madison Square Garden was a magical place filled with amazing memories and teams that even this Native New Englander couldn’t help but root for.

The Knicks were THE unifying team of the Tri State area and Rangers fans rejoiced in a way that I never saw again until the Red Sox won in 2004.

Then those teams got old.

So what did the franchises do? They didn’t rebuild. Why? Because New York DEMANDS a winner. So they made cosmetic changes bit by bit trying to keep the team at championship caliber.

And what happened when the Rangers picked up Fleury, Lindros, Bure, Kovalev, Jagr and Holik? They missed the playoffs EVERY SEASON between 1998 and 2005. Often times they were the most expensive team in the league, but by the spring, they were playing golf.

The Knicks in the post Ewing years have had one disgrace after another. The likes of Antonio McDyess, Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmello Anthony have all shown up. The result? 2 playoff appearances since 2001, both first round sweeps.

The spring of 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2010 saw zero playoff games in Madison Square Garden.
It doesn’t matter if New York fans would accept a losing team. They had two.

Would the Rangers and Knicks have been better off playing young kids those years and building up a winner from within instead of constantly pushing their chips in the center of the table?

The results of that mindset has been a grand total of two post September 11 playoff series wins in Madison Square Garden. (The Rangers won first round series in 2007 and 2008 before being dispatched.)

The New York mentality is an addiction. MUST WIN NOW!
What good does that do if you aren’t winning now?

A little cosmetic change here and there can lead to an ugly result. Do you think Jocelyn Wildenstein said “I’d like to look like a freaky cat lady?”

No she made little change after little change.

The Knicks and the Rangers avoided rebuilding and tanked an entire decade!

The Rangers finally are climbing back to elite status but the Knicks are still barely a playoff team.

Guess what?

The Mets are doing THE SAME DAMN THING!
They are taking the Knicks and Rangers model from the 2000s and said “I’ll have what they are having.”

Why? Because they are New York!

The ironic thing is New Yorkers seem to embrace hometown players above imported stars. New Yorkers seem to love players who play hard (like Jeremy Lin, Victor Cruz and Nick Swisher) above famous guys cashing big checks.

If the Mets were loaded with young kids who might not be contenders but offering hope for the future, I think that team would capture more fans attention than the current ER unit wearing blue and orange in Queens.

It has taken the Rangers nearly 2 decades to put together another team that will make a run at a title. The Knicks are nowhere near it.

Don’t let New York pride get in the way of what you need to do, Mets.
New Yorkers are tough and resilient and have a good B.S. detector.

New Yorkers will only accept a champion?
Build one.

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Why is Jose Reyes still a Met?

Seriously. What the hell?

Do the Mets think they have a shot at the Wild Card? If so, why did they deal Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran?
They are in rebuilding mode… then REBUILD!
They got a quality chip in exchange for Beltran. Imagine what they could have snagged from the Cardinals for Reyes. From the Angels. From ANY team that needs a spark in the shortstop position.
(I thought the Giants should have packaged for Beltran AND Reyes.)
They could have at least 2 players who if they aren’t big leagues ready now, they will be by 2012 or 2013.
And THEN when Reyes hit the open market, out bid everyone for him there. You could even say to him before the trade “No matter what happens this year, nobody is going to out bid us.” Wink wink.
They get the prospects AND they get Reyes for next year.
And yet here he is. Still with the Mets. I give the Mets tons of credit for keeping their nose above .500 and if they have a winning season, then color me impressed. There is NO WAY they are passing Atlanta or Philadelphia this year.
But they COULD be building a team for when Philadelphia’s age catches up to them (which could be in a year or 2.)
Reyes, Wright and Wheeler would be on that team. But for the love of Sid Fernandez, so could have a few other players!
Someone help me. Someone explain it to me.
I’m at a loss.

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