As Major League Baseball celebrates the All-Star Break, the Boston Red Sox find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
At 43-43, they sit at the bottom of the always cutthroat AL East, tied with the Toronto Blue Jays and 9.5 games in back of their arch rival the New York Yankees. In fact, the Yankees are very much "The Daddy" so far in 2012, having taken five of the first six meetings with the Sox this season, including three of four this past weekend.
Boston was 3-7 in their last 10 games and had five game losing skids twice already, narrowly avoiding dropping six straight with Saturday's 9-5 win at Fenway to wrap up the doubleheader.
Expectations are always high when it comes to the Red Sox and their fans. Despite two World Series wins since the magical 2004 backdoor sweep of the Yanks in the now-mythical ALCS, Red Sox Nation (of which I am admittedly a born-and-bred citizen), has not been tolerant when the club's taken even a half-step backwards.
But the Red Sox have not finished the season below third place since 1997, according to Baseball-Reference.com. It was also the last time they managed to win fewer than 80 games (they finished 78-84) in the season.
The question is what's wrong with this year's Sox and what, if anything can they do to stay in the playoff chase?