By Ted Gay – @TedG63
Despite winning the most games, this season the Red Sox players have the luxury of playing with no pressure in the playoffs. If the Sox fall short unless someone makes a series-changing error, or the offense completely goes in the tank, every fan, when that final out is made, and another team celebrates while our boys watch from the dugout, will say the same three words: “I blame Dombrowski.”
The Red Sox greatest need all season has been another bullpen arm. Fans bandied about the names of different pitchers before the trade deadline, arguing about which available hurler would be wearing Red Sox on their chest by August 1. We couldn’t agree on who it should be, but we sure as shit knew it should be someone.
But Dombrowski went with nobody. Now we watch, as the playoffs creep closer, while Alex Cora marches reliever after reliever to the mound, and witnesses them fail. In September the Sox relievers have been like the scene in “The Right Stuff” where the astronauts watch lift off after liftoff each one ending with the rocket crashing to earth.
Perhaps Dombrowski is a genius. By making himself, the ultimate villain did he purposefully set himself up as the fall guy so his players could play with the reckless abandon that only a team unafraid of failure can achieve? In a world where Bryce Walker is about to become a Supreme Court justice anything is possible. But, in reality, Dombrowski is much more likely to be the villain of this season than a genius.
Yes, the Red Sox do have a lot of great arms in their pen, starting with Joe Kelly, who has a ten million dollar wing and a ten cent head. The best throw made during his aborted inning against the Yankees was the one Sandy Leon fired back at him when Kelly once again crossed up the catcher. Dennis Eckersley said that Kelly calls his own game which is like letting Harvey Weinstein pick his own all-male jury pool.
Another great arm belongs to Matt Barnes. It seemed all season, as pitchers were inserted and removed from the eighth inning role when it came to skin and bones Barnes would be the guy. But that great arm is in the same body as a bum hip, and now Barnes’ availability is in jeopardy. Did anyone figure we would be basing our playoff hopes on Bad News Barnes’ achy hip?
Did Dombrowski not understand that pitchers often break down during the stretch drive, which is why you make sure you add an extra reliever before the trade deadline? You might have lots of great arms in July, but those arms break down in the last two months of the season. Dombrowski swam against the tide of common sense, and the waves are starting to crest over his head.
The Red Sox have enough strengths to overcome their weak bullpen, but those strengths have to be used to perfection. If there is a duck boat parade in October Alex Cora will have managed the bullpen perfectly over three playoff series.
But if the Sox lose, and there is just one game in that series where the starter walks off the mound, and the lead is blown before he can slip the jacket on to his shoulder, the reason will be clear.
Blame Dombrowski. This is his team, win or lose.