It's official. Last night the Red Sox lost their 82nd game (and in spectacular fashion, by a score of 13-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays) to clinch their first losing season since 1997. That's right, the last time the Red Sox were this bad, I was missing my two front teeth.
I grew up in a generation of lucky fans. I missed the heartbreak of 1986 by four years, and I was too young during the 1994 strike to really understand what was going on. Sure, I remember the gut-wrenching end to the 2003 postseason, with Tim Wakefield trudging off the mound dejected, sure he would be the next Bill-Buckner-esque scapegoat, but I remember the euphoria of 2004 and 2007 even more clearly.
The Red Sox of my youth were full of talents like Pedro Martinez and vintage Nomar Garciaparra, pre-traitor Johnny Damon and pre-steroid (at least pre-caught using steroids) Manny Ramirez, original dirt dog Trot Nixon, and pre-Captain Jason Varitek.
I've been spoiled. I got to enjoy this golden era of Boston sports without living through any of the real lean seasons. Until this year. I missed watching most of the games this summer while working at a camp, and most days I would check the scores and be more happy than sad that I hadn't seen the carnage live.
And now here we are heading into October. The Red Sox are about as far from the postseason as I can remember - last year and in 2010 we were still in it at this point. In 2009, we were swept from the postseason by the Angels. The Red Sox may not have won a postseason series (or even a postseason game) since 2008, my freshman year in college - but they've been in the hunt every year.
Now that I've graduated, and been dumped into the cold, cruel world, the Red Sox seem to have had the same rude awakening I've had: no one is going to hand you anything. The AL East is a tough division to survive in, and this year the Red Sox sank. I'm not sure what kind of moves the front office will be looking at to make next year better than this one, but I have some ideas - starting with taking a long, hard look at Bobby V.
What are your thoughts on the first losing season in fourteen years? Any suggestions for offseason moves? Leave them in the comments.