In 2012, Red Sox Nation was enraged. It called for the head of manager Bobby Valentine on a platter, daily. It sent its former ace Josh Beckett—who had helped it win a World Series—to the wayside with a bucket full of KFC, a six pack of beer and a few other payroll eaters without so much as a thank you.
It's tough to play in Boston. Former heroes like Johnny Damon are booed out of town for pursuing new opportunities. If you don't perform, you won't last long.
So, who's next on the chopping block? Who awaits the pitchforks outside the gates of Fenway?
It's tough to say.
With the Boston Red Sox going from last in 2012 to first in 2013 in the AL East, Red Sox fans aren't complaining much. For the first time in a long time, they mean every "So good! So good!" they sing during their eighth-inning anthem.
Fans even seem to still have faith in some of the players who are performing the worst—like the slumping Will Middlebrooks and newcomer Jonny Gomes, who's at least been productive in the clubhouse if not on the field. Jon Lester has lost steam since his turnaround start, but Boston still believes he can make a full recovery.
Sure, there's room for improvement, but no player is currently awaiting his death sentence. There are however, a few up for trial.
Pitcher John Lackey certainly has been at the crossing before.
Lackey has yet to do much good for the Red Sox since they acquired him in 2010. His 2011 season was particularly bad, as he went 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA. Then, in 2012, he sat out—to the relief of many fans—after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
In 2013, when Lackey showed up to spring training in shape and looking slimmer than ever, fans decided to give him another chance to prove that his five-year, $82.5 million signing wasn't a total waste.
In his most recent start on Monday, Lackey ignited a bench-clearing brawl between the Sox and the Rays. The Sox ultimately won the 14-inning game 10-8, but it was lucky considering the 10 hits and four runs (two homers) Lackey allowed in just 5.2 innings.
He is 3-5 for the season with a 3.14 ERA and has allowed 20 runs (nine homers) in 57 innings. While he's still showing signs of improvement and looks to be inching back to old form, fans won't wait forever, as their patience with him has already been worn thin.
Another candidate for exile is pitcher Felix Doubront. The Southpaw got off on the wrong foot this year when he showed up to spring training out of shape for the second time. His 4-3 record is also misleading of his performance on the mound.
In 61 innings, Doubront has allowed 33 earned runs and has a 4.84 ERA. He hit a rough patch last month when he allowed six runs in back-to-back starts, and fans started to nominate him as trade bait. His May ERA was 6.23.
If he doesn't turn it around soon, Red Sox Nation will unleash the fury.
And then there's Alfredo Aceves—another pitcher and a troublemaker whose poor attitude combined with poor performance could buy him a ticket out of Beantown. Following issues with Valentine last season, Aceves was the first, and really the only, player to cause a ripple in 2013.
His 2013 performance doesn't help his case: He has a 6.57 ERA and has allowed 18 earned runs (seven homers) in 24.2 innings. During an abysmal start in April, he allowed seven runs in just three innings.
It appears Aceves has been called up this week from Triple-A for another go, per Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, but if things don't pan out well, he could get one step closer to the door.
All three of these players are on thin ice, and Red Sox fans don't usually allow the customary three strikes.