Despite the panic that currently grips Red Sox fans, odds remain in Bostonâs favor when it comes to securing a wild-card playoff berth. Two-game lead with six to play? Just win three of six and youâre in. The Angels and Rays arenât going to run the table. Whatâs the big deal?
The Red Sox are going to beat the Yankees tonight because Jon Lester is Bostonâs best pitcher and the Yankees donât need to win the game. Thereâs no question that the Red Sox will open the playoffs next Friday in Detroit against 24-game winner Justin Verlander. Itâs likely the Red Sox will get killed off against the Tigers, who may be the best team in the American League.
The bigger question, locally, is what happened to a Boston club that just two months ago ranked with Philadelphia as the two best teams in major league baseball?
Imagine we were on the set of the TV show Body of Proof, which uses Providence as its home base of operation. Dr. Megan Hunt would slice open the Red Sox carcass after the team is eliminated from the playoffs and find many potential causes of death.
First thing out would be the lower vertebrae in Clay Buchholzâs spine.
âMr. Buchholz was diagnosed with several stress fractures in his lower back in mid-June,â the coroner dictated into her audio recorder. âTsk. Tsk. There is an anonymous note in the victimâs front pants pocket that suggests team management decided to keep this injury a secret until the trade deadline on July 31 so that opposing teams wouldnât hold the Red Sox up in a trade.
âWas this the right thing to do? Or is Red Sox management guilty of homicide?â Dr. Hunt asked, looking around the autopsy room.
âDonât look at me!â exclaimed chief medical examiner Curtis Brumfield. âIâm blaming the players. Some of them got hurt. Others didnât do their jobs.â
Dr. Hunt is baffled.
âI donât follow baseball,â she said. âWhat other players are you talking about?â
âWell, the heart of the team, Kevin Youkilis, developed bursitis in his hip and then a sports hernia, rendering him useless in September,â Brumfield pointed out. âBut the bottom line is, the Red Sox pitching staff fell apart. The general manager paid a former Angel named John Lackey 82 million dollars over 5 years to be the No. 3 starter and he has been the worst pitcher in recent franchise history.â
âThis Lackey person was a former Angel?â Hunt asked. âWas he brought back to life after dying? That interests me. Tell me more.â
Brumfield rolled his eyes.
âWhen Lackey pitched for the Angels -- who are an American League baseball team -- he once suggested that somebody should âblow up Fenway Park.â He hated the place because fly balls become doubles off the short left field wall known as The Green Monster.â
âIf he hated Fenway Park, why would he come to work there?â Hunt asked.
âBecause they gave him $82 million for five years âŠ are you even listening to me, Doctor Hunt?â
âOkay, I get it. Mr. Buchholz hurt his back. Mr. Youkilis acquired two injuries which hampered his range of motion. Mr. Lackey was unhappy in his new work place. Perhaps he should have remained an Angel?â
Brumfield watched as Dr. Hunt began to examine the lower half of the Red Sox cadaver.
âThese legs seem atrophied,â she said. âThis body does not appear to be in good shape. Do the Red Sox not run much? Do they walk a lot?â
âYes, they walk a lot, but they donât run when they get on base. They paid a very fast runner named Carl Crawford $142M over seven years to add some speed to the lineup but he hasnât produced. He has 18 stolen bases for the season and a .295 on-base percentage.â
âWell,â Hunt replied, coldly, âyou canât run if youâre not on base, right?â
âVery good, Dr. Hunt. Now youâre catching on.â
Hunt reached into the back pants pocket of the Red Sox uniform and pulled out a huge wallet.
âThis team has a lot of money,â she said. âWas that the motive for murder? Were they robbed?â
âSome people say they were complacent because they had so much money,â he admitted. âThe Red Sox had a 10-game lead in the wild-card race in August and never felt threatened. The talk show hosts didnât even talk about them on the radio. They were so fixated on the Patriots that the Red Sox spent the whole month of August getting fat.â
Hunt tugged at the carcassâs midsection.
âYes, definitely some fat here,â she said. âIs this where the pitching staff lives?â
âWell, that could be Matt Albers,â Brumfield said. âHe pitched well for half the season and then ran out of steam. Baseball players are allowed to carry some extra weight. Bostonâs best hitters are Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz, who are both a little chubby.â
âThen they must have cardiovascular disease,â Hunt said. âLet me cut the chest open. This could have been just a simple heart attack.â
âSome of the media critics have said the Red Sox may have lacked heart,â Brumfield told the doctor. âNot all of them. Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia have all kinds of heart but they canât force people like J.D. Drew to care about winning and losing, not when they are making so much money.â
âThat name âJ.D. Drewâ sounds familiar,â Hunt said.
âOh, he spends a lot of time in this hospital, getting MRIs,â Brumfield said. âHe has a permanent seat in the Disabled Listâs waiting room. I think heâs here for 60 days right now. His picture is on the wall in our MRI chamber. They call it the J.D. Drew Room.â
Dr. Hunt stroked her chin.
âYes, Iâve seen that picture. Handsome fellow. Is he married? Oh, forget I said that. Letâs decide on a cause of death before tonightâs show ends. We need to wrap this up. How about if I said the 2011 Red Sox were murdered by team management, injuries, a general lack of conditioning, bad luck, and an overinflated ego from all the good publicity they received before the season began?â
âThat sounds good,â Brumfield agreed. âBut you forgot to mention the real murderer.â
âWho would that be?â Hunt asked.
âThe New York Yankees,â Brumfield said. âPut them in there. They got beat up by the Red Sox 11 times in their first 15 meetings this season but they killed the Red Sox with their consistency.â
âShould we send the police out to bring them in?â Hunt said.
âNo, the Tigers will kill them off in mid-October. I think CSI New York is doing that homicide.â
âOkay, then,â Hunt said. âCase closed. Red Sox are dead and the Yankees will soon be dead. Good night, everyone.â