The comparisons between the Red Sox collapses of 2011 and 1978 apparently extend a lot deeper than the standings.
Like the infamous ’78 team that blew a 14 1/2-game lead to the Yankees, the current edition’s unprecedented blown nine-game lead in September was the result of fractures from within.
Twenty-five iPads for 25 players.
The collapse complete and the season over, manager Terry Francona reflected on a moment three weeks earlier that foretold the free fall. Even with the Sox having crushed the Blue Jays 14-0 in Toronto on Sept. 6 to raise their record to 85-56, a fearful Francona called an impromptu postgame team meeting.
“I thought we were spending too much energy on things that weren’t putting our best foot forward towards winning,” Francona said. “As the season progresses, there’s events that make you care about each other, and this club, it didn’t always happen as much as I wanted it to, and I was frustrated by that.”
Quite simply, both physically and mentally, this Sox team got fat as 2011 progressed. And when it came time to stop the bleeding, as the losses mounted in September and the wild-card lead over Tampa Bay dwindled, Boston was unable to stop the slide.
“The response to urgency, when you handle it well, is an increased focus, togetherness, intensity, raising your level of play at the most important times,” GM Theo Epstein said. “You can certainly say, across the board, that if the urgency was felt, we didn’t respond to it the right way.
“There’s nothing good that comes from a September collapse, at all. But if there’s one silver lining … when you do make the playoffs, you can fall back on a track record of success and the tendency is to look past certain things. But when you go through what we just went through, you can’t look past anything.”
Gonzo:?Playoffs never in the cards
Maybe, just maybe, there was never a chance for the Red Sox to make the playoffs.
If God didn’t want them to, after all, they were never going to.
At least that’s what Adrian Gonzalez says.
“We didn’t do a better job with the lead,” Gonzalez said early Thursday morning. “I’m a firm believer that God has a plan and it wasn’t in his plan for us to move forward.”