Happy New Year, Sox Fans!

BRING ON 2012!

Hope everyone had a safe and fun NYE.  One of my many New Year’s resolutions was to blog more frequently.  So with that in mind:

2011 RED SOX: THE SEASON OF THE APOCALYPSE

Like most Sox fans, 2011 could not end soon enough!  I was more than happy to close the book on 2011, even if it means yet another year of end-of-the-world prophesies a la the Mayan calendar.  Speaking of, everyone gave old friend Harold Camping a lot of grief for screwing up his doomsday prediction, but as far as Sox fans are concerned, maybe he wasn’t so far off…

As you all know, 2011 started off with a lot of optimism in Red Sox Nation with the offseason acquisitions of Gonzo and Crawford.   And though the team scuffled out of the gate, for four glorious months the Red Sox gave us plenty of reason to believe.  But alas it all came crashing down in September… And now, four not-so-glorious months following “the Collapse”, amidst reports of clubhouse turmoil, fried chicken and beer drinking, and enough clubhouse gossip to keep The View on air for years , the Sox embark on a 2012 season filled with both hope and trepidation.  A new, untested GM sits at the helm, a big-name manager known for his high baseball IQ and a fake mustache will be filling out the lineup card, and a new closer-apparent will be attempting to close the door on the opposition in the 9th.  A whirlwind four months!  Given the way 2011 ended for the Sox, I’m definitely ready to close the chapter on the Season of the Apocalypse and will happily take my chances with the Mayan Calendar this season.  (Gulp.)

A HUGE THANK YOU…

to Theo Epstein and Tito Francona!  I cannot thank you both enough for the efforts you made to contribute to, not one, but two World Series Championships in Boston in the last eight years.  Theo deserves much of the credit for being the architect of those two championship teams.  And Tito, as field manager, provided just the right mix of patience, tact, and baseball IQ to lead the team to victory twice despite seemingly insurmountable odds.  Of course, no one will forget the 2004 comeback, but that 2007 team made a pretty impressive comeback of its own down 3 games to 1 in the ALCS to a stacked Cleveland Indians’ team before moving on to a sweep of the Rockies to win the WS.  And speaking of WS sweeps, think about that for a second:  Terry Francona never lost a World Series game as Red Sox manager: a perfect 8-0!  And in 2008, the Sox nearly pulled off the comeback feat again versus the Rays until the offense ran into the RH buzz-saw that was Matt Garza in Game 7 of the ALCS.  (More on Garza in a few.)  Sure, Theo and Tito weren’t perfect and the Era ended on a sour note, but the fact is, they led the Red Sox to the Promised Land twice in my lifetime.  ‘Nuff said.  Thank you both!!

THEO TO THE CUBS

One of my early blog entries last year was about the Sox facing the Cubs at Fenway in 2011. Not long before that Series, the sports media started speculating that the Cubs might make a run at luring Theo to Chicago to try to exorcise some Goats, ‘er ghosts from the North Side.   Of course, Theo, in his typical way, dismissed the chatter as idle speculation.  However, with the ink barely dry on the 2011 collapse, followed by the startling news that Tito was out as manager, Theo Epstein, Starbucks espresso in hand, agreed to take the reigns as President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs.  I always knew he wasn’t going to stay in Boston forever, especially with Lucchino calling many of the shots.  That said, the timing of his decision, with the wounds of the disastrous collapse so fresh, definitely stung.  However, as Theo himself has proclaimed, change is ultimately good for an organization.  I think Theo left behind a team built to win now while preserving a relatively deep farm upon which his successor can build a perennial contender.  And as a Sox fan, it’s hard not to have a sentimental spot for the Cubs.  So long as the Sox are not facing the Cubbies, I wish Theo the best of luck building a World Series contender in Chicago.

GOOD LUCK, BEN

As for Theo’s successor, from everything I’ve read, I think Ben will prove to be a worthy successor as GM.  Here’s to a successful start to a rewarding career in Boston!  Welcome to the pressure cooker!  (Now, Ben, any way you can pry Matt Garza from the Cubs as part of that compensation package for Theo’s departure??  We could use another starter…)

CONGRATS TO THE 2011 WORLD CHAMPION ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

I was pulling for the Rangers, to be honest, but how could you not respect the Cards’ never-give-up performance?  Game 6 was just epic!  The “Wild Card-inals” were kind of the antithesis of the Sox.  Both teams ended the season with identical records at 90-72.  However, on September 1st, the Sox were 83-53 and leading their division by .5 games.  The Cards, meanwhile, were 73-64, and sitting 8.5 games back of the Wild Card leading Braves.  A mere eight weeks later, one team would be crowned World Champion, while the other–well, haven’t we turned the page on that team yet??  Needless to stay, the Cards and Sox were two teams heading in two vastly different directions on September 1st.  Congrats Cardinals!  And a hearty congrats goes out to their manager, Tony LaRussa, on his retirement.  An impressive career, Tony.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2011 PATRIOTS!

With their come-from-behind win versus the Bills on Jan. 1st, the NE Patriots have clinched the #1 seed in the AFC and will enjoy a 1st round bye and HFA throughout the playoffs with an impressive 13-3 record.  However, are they good enough to make, and win, the SB?  Yes, they have one of the best QB’s in the League, and a prolific offense.  And they are led by one of the League’s best coaches.  But, like every playoff contender, they are most definitely flawed.  Statistically, their defense is their Achilles’ heel this year.  Although terrible at times, the Pats’ D was not the statistically worst, however.  At season’s end, the Pats’ D was ranked 31st.  The worst? The heavily-favored to repeat as champs, GB Packers’ defense, having allowed more passing and total yardage than NE.  While no one is giving the Pats much love because of their D, plenty of folks are picking the Packers to repeat as Champs, despite their D…  While annoying, I kind of prefer the “Flying Elvises” to fly under the radar during the playoffs.  They always seemed to play their best with a chip on their shoulder.  It’s been a long time since the Pats have won a meaningful game in the playoffs, despite fielding some impressive teams.  Here’s hoping 2012 provides a little magic for NE fans again.  Go PATS!

And with that, I’m out for now…

Happy New Year’s everyone and thanks for reading!

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