When asked why the Red Sox committed arguably the worst September collapse in baseball history, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez offered the following response:
“It’s always injuries. Any time a team that doesn’t make the playoffs and is supposed to is because of injuries. Plain and simple.”
Gonzalez continued by explaining the specific injuries that hurt Boston’s cause as it went 7-20 in the final month of the regular season to miss the playoffs.
“You have [Clay] Buchholz in the rotation, just that one guy. Daisuke [Matsuzaka], you have him in the rotation all year long, that’s 10 more victories. We probably win the division. Not having [Kevin] Youkilis in the lineup the last month.”
It’s mind boggling to think that any player could use injuries as an excuse for what the Sox did to themselves over the last month. It’s even more shocking to think that Gonzalez, a candidate for the American League MVP award, actually believes that excuse.
Did the Red Sox miss Clay Buchholz? Of course. Buchholz’s back injury changed the entire complexion of their starting rotation, and the acquisition of Erik Bedard at the trade deadline did nothing to help the back end.
Did the Sox miss Kevin Youkilis? There’s no doubt. A lineup without a cleanup hitter who works counts and delivers with runners on base is certainly going to look less intimidating.
But for a team with the third-highest payroll in baseball and a franchise that has won two World Series titles in the last eight years, a few injuries can and should be overcome.
Gonzalez’s comments were so blasphemous that they were actually difficult to fathom as they filtered out of his mouth on Wednesday night in Baltimore.
He’s played on many bad teams in San Diego throughout his Major League career and hasn’t been involved in too many pennant races, but it’s hard to believe that any professional can possess such a lack of accountability.
Furthermore, Gonzalez was dreadful against three A.L. playoff teams in the Yankees (.183), Rays (.131), and Tigers (.130) this season, and despite a year in which he hit .338 with 117 RBI, the slugger should have been one of the first players to step forward and accept blame for the team’s disastrous failure in September.
Sure it’s his first year in a major baseball market, but one would think that Gonzalez would know better than to make a bogus excuse at a time like that.
What’s even more troubling is that he might view it as valid, but even if he does, it’s a comment that should never come out to the media under any circumstance. Excuses are for losers, and that’s what every member of the Boston roster is right now.
Significant injuries occur on every Major League roster, but the Sox should have coasted to the postseason despite the two that affected them down the stretch. A nine-game lead with a month to go in baseball has always been automatic.
It was an epic collapse in every way, and there is no excuse that applies to what just happened to the 2011 Red Sox.
Not only did Adrian Gonzalez use one, but he chose the worst one in the book.
Alastair Ingram is the featured Boston Red Sox columnist for RantSports.com. For daily updates, follow him on Twitter at @AlastairIngram, follow the blog at @RedSoxRant, and join the fan page on Facebook.