Big League Stew

Concession Speech: 2012 Boston Red Sox

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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As the regular season winds down, many teams are already facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategy.

But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to give a concession speech for this year's squad. Up next is our pal Chris Sedenka, a sports talk radio host who plies his trade in Red Sox Nation.

My Fellow New Englanders, Pink Hatters, and Crustaceans,

It is with deep regret that I inform you that the Boston Red Sox have officially conceded the American League East. Calls have been made to Baltimore and New York and yes, even Tampa Bay. Furthermore, there looks to be no possible back door into the playoffs using the wild card. Even the addition of an extra team, which was supposed to ensure that the Sox never missed the postseason ever again, could not help this year.

It has been a wild ride, and we couldn't have done it without our dedicated manager, motivated players, and heart-warming fan base. Sadly, we just ran out of time.

Before moving on we would like to address the rumors that the organization truly conceded before the season even started. While the team has struggled since early April, there is no evidence supporting this notion. We believe that every year is an opportunity for the Red Sox to win a World Series. That is why we put out the best team possible each spring.

While we were under the impression that this team could compete for the division it just wasn't meant to be. Maybe with a little luck, five different starters, and a competent manager (I mean seriously, who the hell bats Scott Podsednik third in a lineup?), this team could have been playoff-bound. Instead, it's time to think about what great young prospect will make an impact in 2018!

Mistakes were made: So you're asking where it all went wrong. And how can we rectify this to make sure it never happens again?

The first error in judgment actually goes back to last October. In hindsight, it seems that parting ways with the most successful manager in the history of the Boston Red Sox wasn't the best idea. Is it true that he lost the locker room? Yes. Were there some possible issues away from the team? Yes. But Terry Francona was a proven winner. Maybe trading a player or two earlier would have brought the team back to him.

Theo Epstein was soon gone as well, and we may have been a little too confident in thinking what we could have gotten in return. It turns out after all that a GM isn't worth Starlin Castro. Go Figure. However, we did end up with Chris Carpenter — though not that one.

This brings us to the hiring of what so many people believed was the savior. A man who was going to change the game in Boston. A man who won a Japanese World Series! A man who commanded respect from his players. A man who claims he invented the wrap. Bobby Valentine just blew us away when he was hired. And then he just blew.

We made a mistake in bringing in someone who threw darts to create his lineups ... allegedly. A man who would rather pick up his adult son at the airport rather than get ready for a game. A man who hadn't managed in Major League Baseball in a decade. Boy, did it show. But he certainly still deserves to be the manager, because .... well, you're going to have to talk to the owner for an explanation on that one. I got nothing.

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The building of this team is a bit regrettable, too. Instead of making an effort to grab Edwin Jackson or Hiroki Kuroda in free agency, we decided to take a more progressive approach. The strategy of quantity over quality came into play. Who needs potential game-changing free agents when you can go out and get Aaron Cook, Carlos Silva, Mark Prior, Ross Ohlendorf, John Maine and Vicente Padilla? Unfortunately, trying to turn back the clock eight years didn't seem to work. Neither did moving a proven setup guy to the rotation. I'm not sure Daniel Bard will ever be the same.

As for the actual season,  we admit that it might be best just to skip over it. However, we believe it's important for the whole truth to be known. The season has been an unmitigated disaster.

The Starting Lineup: We were one of the best hitting teams in the American League for the first half of the season. Following an injury to David Ortiz in August, the team fell off. Dustin Pedroia has been inconsistent. Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury missed most of the year. Adrian Gonzalez was hitting well before he was traded, but with no power. The catching position was a hole. Nobody could stay healthy in the outfield, and Will Middlebrooks got nailed with a season-ending injury. At one point, Pedro Ciriaco was our best hitter! It's been that kind of year, folks. A mix of bad luck, inconsistent lineups, and a lack of hitting in the clutch helped bury the boys from Beantown.

[More: Is Ozzie Guillen one and done in Miami?]

The Rotation: The team was built in such a way that put a healthy amount of pressure on the top three. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz essentially needed flawless seasons. Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront were the true wild cards. Expectations were low for the two, considering they had never started the season in the rotation. Well, Beckett is now off the team, Lester is having his worst year, Buchholz has been inconsistent, Dubront ran out of gas, and Bard was simply ineffective. I think that sums it up quite well. Let's move on.

So, the question now is who is to blame? Well, the answer to that is: WHO ISN'T TO BLAME? Blame the players for driving Francona out and making a mess of the organization. Blame the front office for enabling the players to run the asylum and making no effort to improve the staff. Blame the coaching staff for having absolutely no awareness whatsoever. And, finally blame yourselves for ever falling for this farce of a team.

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But, this is no time to throw around insults while getting out your knives. It wasn't all doom and gloom this season. Let's take a look at some of this year's highlights, some of those great milestones that we'll never forget.

1. Fenway Park turned 100! What a glorious day that was.

2. We dumped $260 million by trading away a bunch of problem children to the Dodgers.

And, that's about it. OK, moving on to next year!

Hope: Turn that frown upside down, folks! We are confident that things are looking up. There has been a shift in the clubhouse. There is money available, and the Red Sox are ready to take the American League East by storm in 2013!

— Dustin Pedroia is back. New England loves a good Dirt Dog!
— Will Middlebrooks will be back from injury and ready to take off.
— Andrew Bailey should be healthy to start the season.
— Alfredo Aceves should be long gone.
— The bullpen will return with some decent arms.
— Jacoby Ellsbury will be back until he has some catastrophic injury.
— Jon Lester can only go up from here!
— We have money to spend wildly again!
— And finally, John Lackey will be back!

We will also go out and find a manager who actually knows what the hell he is doing. A coach who isn't afraid to get in a player's face and cares about the team more than his haircut. A new face to take the Boston Red Sox out of the dregs of the AL East, and back to the top of the greatest division in the history of sport.

Doom and Gloom are in the past folks. Pretend the last two seasons never happened. Forget those Yankee fans that keep saying the Greenwell Era is back.

We will never fall back on having to rely on the Brandon Lyons of the World. Jack Clark will never have to walk through that door! Nick Green can stay the hell away from Lansdowne Street. Kevin Cash will never again receive a contract offer. And DICE-K WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER GO 5IP, 6H, 3K, 7BB, 5ER IN A BOSTON UNIFORM AGAIN.

NEVER AGAIN!

So, look for a pulse in February. And even if this roster still looks like a disaster, well, Baltimore is doing it somehow this year, so why can't we?

Man, that would really look terrible on a bumper sticker, wouldn't it?

Chris Sedenka is a sportstalk host for WJJB 96.3FM in Portland, Maine. He is also currently working on untitled book on college football. He can be followed on twitter @ChrisSedenka

Previous Concession Speeches: Minnesota TwinsSan Diego PadresNew York MetsMiami MarlinsChicago CubsToronto Blue JaysColorado RockiesKansas City Royals, Houston Astros

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