Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Curse of the Andino Is Real After All

OK, so maybe I was wrong.

At the end of last season, when the Orioles won their 69th game and knocked the Red Sox from the playoffs, I was not one of the Baltimore fans giddy with delight. The game was met with excitement and hailed as one of the biggest victories for he franchise in years. I did not agree.

I thought it was a real loser's mentality to get excited about knocking one division rival from the playoffs just so another could go. It seemed pointless to get so worked up about a team with 69 wins and the prospect of Tampa Bay in the ploayoffs versus Boston. It was just sad.

But my biggest objection to the celebration was that the Boston defeat would have no lasting effects on the Red Sox franchise and they would remain favorites to win the AL East for years to come. Evidently, I was wrong.

The knee-jerk reaction to the Red Sox collapse is that this will be a devastating blow to the organization. A death blow. A failure that will result in a changing of the guard and a decline of the team into mediocrity. I would love for that to be the case but that's probably not going to happen.

It's looking more and more like it was a death blow. And the Red Sox have been the embodiment of mediocrity this season.

Boston fans are not clamoring for the heads of Terry Francona and Theo Epstein. Nor is the Boston press. While acknowledging that this collapse was really, really horrible, measured responses are being seen in most corners. No one in the Red Sox management seems to be in danger of being forced out.

This was true. The Boston press, the fans (in general) and the Red Sox ownership all said that scapegoats were not being sized up. But within 2 weeks of me writing the above opinions, Terry Francona was fired, Theo Epstein was off to Chicago and fried chicken-gate had been exposed by the Boston Globe. As it turned out, the Red Sox were ripe for the plucking in terms of a management overhaul. The Orioles had but to push the first domino.

Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, John Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Clay Bucholz and Jacoby Ellsbury are all coming back.

The 2010 version of Beckett came back. Crawford couldn't stay on the field. Youkilis is in Chicago. Gonazalez is having his worst season since he became a regular. Lester and Pedroia are having the worst seasons of their careers. Bucholz has been not great shakes. Ellsbury...see Carl Crawford.

And now Beckett, Crawford and Gonzalez find themselves with the Dodgers.

They have prospects popping up all over the end of year Top 20 lists over at Baseball America.

Only Will Middlebrooks contributed in any meaningful way.

This is not the end of the Boston Red Sox. Win or lose, they will fill some holes, resign some guys, heal their injured and be right back among the favorites to take the division in 2012.

They brought David Ortiz back. But their signings of Kelly Shoppach, Nick Punto, Aaron Cook, Vincente Padilla and Cody Ross did not exactly set the league on fire.

So it appears that Robert Andino's hit was a desperate stab in the dark that hit its mark with deadly accuracy. The Red Sox went from World Series favorites to full rebuilding mode in less than 11 months.

Oriole Magick, indeed.


Anonymous said...

Actually, Andino had a very effective September with the bat against Boston. It wasn't just that one hit, although that was the capstone. It seemed like they just couldn't get him out, and I'm sure that got to them as much as that final at bat.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Boston's continuing woes have been a nice side effect of game 162 from last year. But the real difference-maker from that game was the transformation in the Orioles culture. The men playing game 162 had literally nothing to play for but the respect of their teammates, and themselves. Substantially that same core group comprises the team this year, and that mental toughness and belief in each other is a huge contributor to the success the team is having this year. Some of this may be hindsight, but I remember thinking at the time that I'd much rather have my kids root for the Orioles, who refused to concede that 27th out, with nothing to win but self-respect, than the Red Sox, a team of self-serving jerks and hired guns who would have been repulsive even if they had won game 162 and gone on to the playoffs.

DempseysArmy said...

That is something to think about and I suppose that the effect on the Orioles was significant as well. But no win, no matter how galvanizing, is going to make a guy hit better or keep someone healthy. Indeed, most of the player on the field that night are not currently playing for the team or having worse seasons than they did in 2011.

Anonymous said...

But the real difference-maker from that game was the transformation in the Orioles culture. The men playing game 162 had literally nothing to play for but the respect of their teammates, and themselves. Absolutely. After suffering through "mid-season form", I remember watching games, and just hoping they wouldn't embarrass themselves. It really was a stunning run since August 22, 2011 (Twins series). Game 162 was the capstone of that. This year seems to be an improvement b/c we have better quality replacement players than we did last year, and some "lucky breaks" in that the starting rotation didn't fall apart after Jason Hammel went down.