Wednesday, Sept. 28 is one night that won’t be forgotten by fans of the Boston Red Sox. On this night the Red Sox season came to an end. After the All-Star break the Sox came out with a great way to start the second half of the 162-game season. Things were looking up for Sox fans, until September rolled around. September was not a good month at all for the Sox.
At the beginning of the month the Sox were ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays by nine games for the wild card and only trailing a half a game behind the New York Yankees. The Sox win/loss record after this time was 5-16. The team wasn’t completely out of it yet; this put them at a tie with the Rays for the wild card. The Red Sox were playing in Baltimore against the Orioles and the Rays hosted the Yankees on Sept. 28.
This was a must win for both the Sox and Rays to see who would go to the playoffs. If both teams had won, there would have been a play-in game the following night to decide who would go. Well the play-in game was unnecessary because the Sox lost and the Rays won in extra innings.
The point I am going to make for this is the way the Sox fans were reacting during the game and following their season. Sox fans were hoping the Sox could pull off one more win and that the Yankees would beat the Rays to secure a spot for the Sox in the playoffs. The social media, (Facebook, twitter, etc.) were blowing up with news feeds that said, “Go Red Sox and Yankees . . . wow never thought I’d say that.”
The Red Sox and Yankees rivalry is one of the biggest rivalries in sports. For Sox fans to have to root for their enemy it must be understood that the stakes were high here. The Sox had a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Jonathan Papelbon was to pitch the closing for this game while the Rays and Yankees game was tied. All Papelbon needed was three outs and the game was theirs; then the Sox would have had to wait to see how the Rays game panned out.
Well Papelbon didn’t make it three outs before giving up the lead and losing the game 4-3. There were a lot of statuses and posts about how Papelbon blew the game. Everyone was very quick to put the blame on either Papelbon or manager Terry Francona.
However there was still hope as the Sox fans quickly tuned in to watch the Yankees and Rays go into extra innings. The smack talk came from Yankee fans saying that their team was going to throw the game so the Rays would win and Sox would be sent home packing. Shortly after, the Yankee fans were right; the Yankees lost and the Rays walked off with a homerun by Evan Longoria. The social media played a big part in my interest in this topic. I found that people blamed the loss [of the Sox] game on one person; so quickly people pointed out that it was entirely the pitcher’s fault giving up the runs. In my opinion there isn’t one person who can be held responsible in a team sport.
For example, where was the offense to help support the pitchers? Going into the last inning of a crucial game when your team is only up by one run is a lot of pressure to put on a pitcher. Had the Sox been more alive at the plate they may have scored more runs and then the two runs given up in the ninth inning wouldn’t have mattered.
Being in charge of a major league or professional team comes with a lot of responsibility as well. The coach is not going to make everyone happy all the time. Sometimes the decisions they make don’t always turn out the way people expect; sometimes they do. When Francona made the decision to have Papelbon pitch the ninth inning he was only doing what he thought would be best for his team. Unfortunately it may not have been the best decision, but as I mentioned before there were things that could have helped the situation; more runs scored for instance.
The Yankees and Rays both just recently lost the American League Division Series (ALDS) so now they, along with the Sox, have seen their seasons come to an end. All that smack talk from Sox and Yankees fans, and now neither team will be seen in the World Series this year. I am now looking forward to what the Sox have to bring for the 2012 season.
Ellissa Coburn can be contacted at