September 19, 2011
For $142 million, the Boston Red Sox obviously wanted Carl Crawford(notes) to make a difference in left field. So far, with Crawford having one of the worst seasons of his career, they're not getting much of a return on their investment.
Crawford's production — which includes a .292 on-base percentage, .402 slugging and 29 fewer stolen bases than a season ago — actually ranks among the worst in the major leagues.
And he's really sorry about it, too.
In the last paragraph of the final installment of his series of blog posts for ESPN Boston, Crawford apologized to Red Sox fans for his miserable season.
The whole post, one of those "as told to" deals, had a contrite tone. Crawford characterized Boston's season — and his own role in it — using words such as: frustrating, disappointed, struggled, trying, adjustments, grind, perseverance, panic, worry and hope.
And then he went and said the magic words:
I want to end the diary saying something to the fans of Boston. I just want to say I'm sorry for the year I've had. You guys have been really supportive and I appreciate that. Hopefully when we get into these playoffs, I can be the real Carl Crawford that I know I am. We'll see.
Boston's lead in the wild-card race shrunk to two games after the Tampa Bay Rays took three of four at Fenway, including an 8-5 victory Sunday. Crawford said he would be "devastated" and it would be "devastating" if his old club, the Rays, overtook the Red Sox for the last ("our") playoff spot.
Even with Crawford playing far below-average ball, Boston still had a nine-game lead earlier this month. Not making the playoffs would be the final — and most meaningful — consequence of his shortcomings.
Having interviewed Crawford a few times, I'm guessing his words and feelings are genuine, that he's really sorry and disappointed in himself for not living up to expectations — especially his own.
We as a people seem to like hearing apologies. For indiscretions with illegal drugs, for having sex with the wrong person, for whatever.
I'm guessing that Red Sox fans don't want an apology from Crawford; they want him to be one of the best players in the majors, as he was in 2010. He'll probably rebound next season — and maybe he'll even do it before this one is done — but only performance is going to matter when you're making $142 million.
Crawford also referred in his post to heckling — "haters" at Rays games in St. Petersburg, and how their jeers will motivate him to get better. If he doesn't, he'll hear them in Boston, too.