Red Sox logo (upside down to show how terrible they are)Unfortunately I have to go off-topic again, and once again, it’s about the Boston Red Sox. So I must once more ask your indulgence, Dear Reader.

In September of last year, the inept denizens of Fenway Park racked up a record-breakingly horrific 7-20 record. That was after having failed to get into the playoffs in 2010, and after a truly dismal April 2011.

For a team that went through the most catastrophic collapse in major-league sports history, they seem awfully oblivious to how devastatingly awful they are. Despite having a new manager, Bobby Valentine, and a new general manager, Ben Cherington, most of the same old characters who participated in last year’s collapse are still with the team. So one would think, by now, that they’d be tired of being as pitiful as they are.

But they’re not. They remain a team in denial of their entrenched mediocrity. And they don’t seem capable of changing their minds on the matter.

The Red Sox have been in decline since the end of 2009, when they shamefully flamed out of the ALDS. They haven’t made a playoff appearance since. And it certainly doesn’t look as though they will this season, either. As of this morning, their 2012 record is a pathetic 12-18. They’re not even close to reaching that famed boundary of mediocrity, the .500 mark. Most Boston fans and the Boston sports media are also largely oblivious to the fact that the Red Sox have been in decline for over 2 years. They don’t seem to care. Wins don’t matter to them, nor does getting into the playoffs. I’m not sure why this is the case, but it is. Fenway Park continues to be packed, and the sports media keep reporting on the Red Sox as though they’re suddenly going to become contenders, at any moment.

As I’ve noted last year, the team’s lack of performance — aside from a couple individuals who are doing well — is across the board. Pitching is bad, hitting is lackluster (especially clutch hitting), and despite having a number of Gold Glove winners on the team, the fielding isn’t that great either. There isn’t any single weak point, and no easy explanation for the team’s long, slow, 2-year-plus decline.

I hadn’t planned even to comment on the Red Sox — I haven’t watched very much of their games and had no interest in following them too closely — but yesterday, a news story came out that really was just too much to take. Because he’d complained of a lat strain earlier last week, supposed “ace” Josh Beckett was told he could skip his scheduled start last Saturday. But what did he do, shortly after getting this news? Why, on Thursday, as WBZ-FM the Sports Hub in Boston reports, he went and played a round of golf (cached):

… 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Hardy learned that Beckett wasn’t exactly resting with those injuries. Instead, the Red Sox’ injured hurler was out on the golf course.

Hardy reported that Beckett and Clay Buchholz were golfing in the area on Thursday, just days before Beckett’s skipped start.

Unbefuckinglievable! Not only did Beckett pull this off — apparently heedless of how bad it looked — but teammate Buchholz went along with it … literally. Neither is commenting at all. There has been no coverage of this issue at the Red Sox’ house organ, NESN, either. In fact, the team as a whole seems not to care one iota (cached). When two players decide this is acceptable behavior, folks, that tells me we have a problem. When the rest of the team yawns over it, it’s even worse. And it’s complicated by the fact that last year’s cataclysmic end-of-season collapse ought to have made clear — to Beckett, Buchholz, and the rest of the team — that this sort of bullshit behavior just can’t be tolerated any longer.

That’s not to say that nothing good has come from the Red Sox in the last couple of years. For example, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury — who unfortunately is injured at the moment — had a stellar year in 2011, defying the rest of the team’s ineptitude and lackadaisical play. There have been a few other standout performances. They just haven’t been able to compensate for the rest of the team’s decay.

It’s time we all faced facts: the Red Sox don’t care. It doesn’t matter. Most of the players don’t give a shit. Most of the coaches don’t give a shit. The ownership certainly doesn’t give a shit. Quite unbelievably, no one in the organization has been shamed by their embarrassing demise last year. Perhaps the only thing that sticks out over the last couple of years, by way of explanation for their two-year-plus slide, is the diversion of the ownership’s attention; 2010 was the year that Fenway Sports Group angled to buy the Liverpool soccer team and purchased it that October. Clearly, the Red Sox are no longer the focus of attention for principal owner John Henry. It’s time he admitted that he no longer has any interest in running an MLB team, leave the country entirely, become a full-time English soccer mogul, and hand the Red Sox over to a new owner — one who actually gives a flying fuck.

For the record, I haven’t watched the Red Sox this year. Except for blogging — on rare occasions — about how horrible they are, I don’t intend to have anything to do with them. At least, not until I see evidence that the team understands it’s in a decline, apologizes to fans for being as awful as they are in spite of all the money they make being that awful, and start playing as though their fans matter to them.

Update 1: Last night against the Indians, golfer-in-chief Beckett imploded, was yanked early in the 3rd inning, and the runs he gave up cost the Sox the game. At the post-game press conference (cached), he proved to be the Josh Beckett we all know so well: defiant, surly, unapologetic, and petulant. It was a disgusting enough display to get Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, one of the deans of Boston’s sports media, to finally pin the blame for Beckett’s childish antics on the team’s owners and management (cached):

Beckett gets to prepare for games the way he wants. Beckett gets to drink beer in the clubhouse during games. Beckett gets to throw too many cutters. Beckett gets to do what he wants, basically.

Terry Francona used to say that the best way to deal with Josh was to leave him alone. Bobby Valentine seems to feel the same way.

Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington, John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, John Farrell, Curt Young, Bob McClure, etc. There are probably a dozen men who could have gone up to Beckett at any point and told him to fall in line. Nobody ever did.

It’s absolutely true that punkish, juvenile prima donnas don’t become that way without the consent of their superiors. The folks who own and run the Red Sox consented to this situation. They wanted it; they got it; and Boston fans should no longer put up with it.

Update 2: The Red Sox as a team continue not to get it. Beckett continues to resist admitting having done anything wrong (cached). Pitching coach Bob McClure keeps insisting there was nothing wrong with letting a position player pitch the 17th inning Sunday when a well-rested Beckett could have hurled an inning without harm (cached). Manager Bobby Valentine keeps insisting there was nothing wrong with Beckett golfing when his injured lat prevented him from pitching (cached). He also insists there’s nothing wrong with Beckett or the team, everything will be just fine, fans just need to shut the fuck up and ignore that Beckett is a self-important asshole and his team can’t play its way out of a paper bag (cached).

By this point I must sound like a broken record, but I find I must repeat it: With a few exceptions, everyone connected with the Red Sox is utterly clueless, blind to the team’s two-year-plus free fall, unwilling or unable to admit there’s the slightest thing wrong, and they stubbornly refuse to change one damned thing in order to make it better.

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