So the Red Sox dropped their fifth straight game last night, losing to the Yankees after an embarrassing sweep by the Rays, a team that was slated for about 4 wins in this shortened season and only if they “got hot.” The Sox have been outscored 27-11 over the last two games and 52-25 through their last five. They own the worst record in the American League and are playing with all the urgency of a guy in line at Jersey Mike’s asking for extra mayo on his turkey sub.
With almost a month of “baseball” under our belts, my lasting impression is that maybe most of our players didn’t think they’d be playing at all in 2020 and are having a hard time getting over that mindset. Or maybe they’re playing just how you’d expect in a season that’s been sliced down to a third, has cardboard cut-outs in the stands and each week features another player getting sick. Or maybe, just maybe, with Mookie Betts traded, their best pitcher downed and their rotation populated with guys ranging from “how is he starting?” to “how is this guy pulling a major league paycheck?”, the Red Sox just suck.
Whatever the reason, as a fan of the Boston Red Sox, I am legally required to manage the team from the comfort of my chair, and make sure I’m fully briefed on their plans before I bet on sports in Illinois. So here goes:
Honestly, in 2020, I’m not looking for anything special. Any World Series title achieved in this alternative universe season is going to carry an asterisk or some other qualifier and at this point it’s ridiculous to even consider. The Red Sox aren’t going to win a World Series this year. But the worst record in baseball? That’s within reach. And something they should strive for.
It’s important to point out that I don’t give a damn about jockeying for draft pick position or any other benefits that spring from poor performance. I’m talking shitting the bed simply for the sake of doing it better than any other team out there. Think about it. Losing a couple games here and there and ending up in third or fourth place–that’s the very definition of mediocrity. No one remembers you. But to be a team of a certain sized payroll and to burn out fabulously, bursting at the seams with ineptitude and listlessness, daring your fans to wonder exactly how much more embarrassing things are going to get? That’s where legends are made.
We’ve been fortunate here in Red Sox Nation with some otherworldly success. But we’ve had some pretty memorable burnouts that live as large in legend as our World Series titles. Chicken and beer. The Bobby V debacle. Whatever the hell that was in 2015. I would wager that no other fanbase celebrates its lows with as much gusto. Because we see the beauty in the carnage. The fascination of the abomination.
So here’s the thing. It’s already a screwed-up season. It feels fake. It feels forced. And the way we’re falling apart at the seams, we’re not going to achieve anything of greatness. So let’s go for the gold in bedshitting. To paraphrase the great Ron Swanson, don’t half-ass anything; whole-ass it. If you’re gonna lose, do it bigger, louder and more spectacularly than anyone else. Let the Rays, Tigers and White Sox live in .500 land. We’ll just crank the music and raise our middle fingers as we circle the bowl.
Pay attention, Red Sox: