Five Reasons The Boston Red Sox Won’t Collapse Like They Did In 2011
Five Reasons The Boston Red Sox Won't Collapse Like They Did In 2011
On September 3, 2011, the Boston Red Sox held a 9.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the wildcard spot in the American League. They had a 99.6 percent chance of making the playoffs at that point in the season.
But they didn't. They disappointed in epic fashion and embarked on a collapse that could quite possibly be the worst in baseball history to date.
Then Manager Terry Francona turned a blind-eye to a disruptive clubhouse. Every pre-game was reminiscent of a college football tailgate. Undisciplined, irresponsible athletes getting what they deserve for their actions (can you tell I'm still bitter about this?).
The result was horrible starting pitching for the last month of the season that couldn't buy a quality start, an overworked bullpen falling apart, bad base-running, and a sinking ship with no captain to tell everyone to get in a life boat.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, after a forgettable 2012 season led by he-who-must-not-be-named (rhymes with Robby Palentine), the Sox are back on top in 2013 and hold a 1.5 game lead in the AL East with a substantial lead over the leader for the final wild-card spot.
But this Red Sox team is different. It's a likable bunch with a lot more character than the 2011 or 2012 teams. They're from the same mold as the 2004 self-proclaimed "Idiot" teams - a scrappy, fun-loving, beard-growing bunch of guys all working towards the same goal.
Here are five reasons why this group is collapse-proof.
5. Team Chemistry
As previously mentioned, the 2011 Red Sox were a bunch of individuals, 25 guys with their own agenda. Everyone can agree with that now.
The 2013 Red Sox are captained by David Ortiz and lead by example scrappy Dustin Pedroia, but those guys were there in 2011, so what's different?
It's a long season, which means a lot of time spent together by grown men with strong opinions. The acquisitions of consummate professionals Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, and Shane Victorino have been extremely valuable, and young and veteran players have bought in completely.
4. Manager John Farrell
Finally, a manager that understands that people come to watch his team play and not him manage (it was a very long 2012). Farrell is calm, cool and collected and seems to have a firm grasp of what he's doing. Aside from his recent usage of the Red Sox bullpen, it really shows. There's also almost nothing to say negatively about this year's squad from a personality standpoint, a reflection of Farrell's leadership in 2013.
3. Reliable Starting Pitching
The 2011 Red Sox had a startling 7.08 ERA in September by their starting pitching and had only five quality starts ALL month. Their ineptness wore out the already overworked bullpen by getting into the 7th inning of ballgames less times than the amount of mothers who enjoyed Miley Cyrus' VMA performance.
The 2013 team has innings eaters and bulldogs all over the starting rotation. John Lackey has finally earned some forgiveness from Sox fans, Jon Lester has been steady all season, and Jake Peavy looks like he has something to prove. Better yet, they all order grilled chicken sandwiches and water when they go to Chick-Fil-A.
2. Aggressiveness On The Base-Paths
The 2011 team didn't do everything they could to get into scoring position, take the extra-base, and go first to third on base-hits to right and center field. They were a mediocre 17th in stolen bases, and after years of torturing Red Sox batteries on the base-paths as an opposing player, Carl Crawford seemed more interested in stealing paychecks from the Red Sox than stealing valuable bases.
Flash-forward to 2013 and the Red Sox are 4th in all of baseball in stolen bases, Jacoby Ellsbury leads the majors with 47 SB and even Big Papi has three stolen bases. Who are these guys?
1. Clutch Hitting
Nothing is more satisfying, more momentum shifting, than the walk-off hit or home run. The Red Sox have 13 walk-off victories in 2013 to lead all of MLB. With every dog-pile at home plate, the 2013 Red Sox' season outlook gets even stronger.