I was born and raised in a small town right outside of one of the greatest sports cities in the nation—Boston, Mass. Ever since I was eight years of age, I was always a true, die-hard Boston Red Sox fanatic.
For better or worse, the first season I truly followed on a game-by-game basis was the Red Sox's 2003 campaign, which ended in quite a heartbreaking sequence. One could only imagine the heartbreak of a young fan at said time frame.
Nevertheless, following that season, news articles spread like wildfire when everyone and their mother was blaming the "Curse of the Bambino" on the collapse of the Red Sox that previous season. However, as the offseason progressed, a new regime had entered the Beantown fray. At the helm since 2002, Theo Epstein had his first breakout year as general manager in the offseason prior to the 2004 season. Epstein had brought in names such as Curt Schilling, David Ortiz and Kevin Millar—all staples to the eventual World Series victory of that following season.
Under all these acquisitions, however, the question remained of who was going to be the catalyst to lead this team to prosperity for the first time in over 80 years. Grady Little had been relieved of his duties after some very poor calls in the playoffs, so the Red Sox went out and brought Phillies outcast, Terry Francona in as the new manager of the squad. Francona was renown for his mind for the game on top of his more quiet approach inside of the clubhouse.
What was the best part of this attitude back in 2004?
He didn't need it.
Francona brought an approach that meshed very well in his campaign with the Red Sox. Allowing the likes of Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar to provide charismatic leadership in the clubhouse, the band of self-proclaimed "Idiots" had worked as one to capture the World Series and "Reverse the Curse."
From that point on, the Red Sox joined the Patriots in winning a championship at least once in the early part of the decade. Since then, the Red Sox captured another championship victory in 2007 under newer names like Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon and Dustin Pedroia. Later on, the Boston Celtics won a championship in the NBA in 2008, as did the Bruins in the NHL, in 2011. All this on top of the Patriots winning their third Super Bowl in four years back in 2004.
Boston was the place to be if you wanted to associate yourself with the word "winning," with no offense to the ever-wacky Charlie Sheen. Nevertheless, Boston was Sportstown, USA. Why do I use the word "was" so often? The New England Patriots lost a game to the Buffalo Bills, the Bruins lost a preseason game and the Red Sox had the biggest collapse in MLB history.
Since all these events transpired, all people do is ponder why there is a new curse in Boston. To cap things all off, longtime manager Terry Francona was let go from the managerial role this weekend, to the surprise of far too many people. Either way, Francona departed in his gas guzzler, and as if there wasn't enough of a fire spreading over talks of a curse, it feels like it's 1918 all over again.
Some seem to realize that Terry Francona's services are no longer needed. Call him what you will. A scapegoat, a proprietor, a catalyst...whatever you want to call him, you can no longer refer to him as the manager of the Boston Red Sox.
What do you feel is the cause for the Red Sox epic collapse this season?
As ignorant as some fans can be, looking at the problem from a bird's-eye view, there was no doubt that the Red Sox do in fact need a new voice in the clubhouse. Would you want a manager that condoned drinking in the clubhouse and a very low morale? This was not a problem that just began in September, or Francona wouldn't have been as receptive to leaving as he was. This was a season-long problem caused by the players' expectations of being handed the World Series trophy because they brought in some big-money players.
Egos were blown up like never before, and the team didn't put as much effort into their games as they should have. Carl Crawford had a horrid season because he didn't care enough to win, like he did in Tampa Bay. Pitchers collapsed continuously as conditioning programs were at their worst. Inconsistency was caused by the teams on again, off again desire to play good baseball. Sure, there are the Dustin Pedroias and the Jacoby Ellsburys who played their hearts out and would play the game for free, but there are others who jogged down to first base and those who just didn't care.
Terry Francona also failed to do what his job required. If you ask this humble inquirer, the manager's role is quite overrated. They make the lineup card and are supposed to motivate the team. That's it. The problem is there was a lack of mutual respect because Terry Francona is too much of a pushover to take charge.
That is no insult—rather, it's a description of how he works behind the clubhouse. If you want to blame Tito for anything, it's his lack of awareness and ability to take charge. He also isn't the greatest manager out there, when it comes to putting too much faith into failure players, with the one exception for Dustin Pedroia. The Jed Lowrie, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey, experiments, just to name a few were epic failures, yet he decided to give them all considerable amounts of playing time. Don't even get me started on Manny Delcarmen, either.
When you look at the overall morale and condition of the team, it is time for serious changes. Boston is not cursed, they are unmotivated and uninspired to do anything but make money. The Boston Red Sox have become what they have always despised. When they look into the mirror, they see that vilified image of a Yankee they have come to make up. Boston has become New York, in their eyes, and that's enough reason to require changes.
Now, as many of you read this, I'd like you to somehow explain to me as of how there is a new curse about? This is the time for the Chad Finns, Ben Watanabes and others to explain how exactly there was a curse. To quote the Atlantic Press, the Red Sox weren't, "cursed, they were just terrible." Terry Francona no longer fits the mold of the team and the players need someone to whip them into shape. It is time for a new beginning for Red Sox Nation and a big overhaul must take place. That is the problem.
Remember, New Englanders, every time a team loses, we are not cursed, we just didn't win.