Red Sox need some dirt dogs to shake out of complacent state

May 2, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) pitches during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
May 2, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) pitches during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Past Boston Red Sox teams had an identity from Dirt Dogs, Idiots, Bearded Brothers and so on. What we have is simply a silly dance from the outfielders.

On a recent tour of the Vatican there were several deceased and now mummified Pope’s on display. Based on what I have witnessed from the Boston Red Sox this season, each Pope showed more life than our suddenly inept baseball team.

I would also feel comfortable with any of the Pope’s playing third base after witnessing the troubling antics of Marco Hernandez. How do you injure your shoulder going for a ground ball?

Just what type of team-wide malady has caused a sudden lack of passion? This team apparently is content on mailing it in on a daily basis. Despite this sudden aversion to team spirit, they have managed to be above the .500 mark. The talent they have, but the desire is now an open question – at least for me.

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Growing up with the complacent country club atmosphere of the Red Sox in the 1950’s, this is now déjà vu, but with significantly superior talent on the current group of potentially “25 cabs for 25 players.” The disappointment will certainly magnify as they go forward or backward this season.

The first notable question came from the most unlikely of players, one Dustin Pedroia, a personal top ten Red Sox favorite of mine. Pedroia lost a few games after a hard – not take-out – slide from Manny Machado. Pedroia did everything possible to defuse the situation. Is there a hotline phone to the other clubhouse? Did Pedroia phone in a series of apologies to Buck Showalter? A baseball détente attempt?

This was un-Pedroia like as he usually is in the eye of the storm with his antics be they directed at teammates or opponents. The next sad reaction was when Matt Barnes attempted to not use a hotline, but a nice heater directed at the cranium of Machado. Pedroia is seen in a rather telling “It wasn’t me” directed at Machado. Yes – Barnes overreacted by dishing out a message that needed to be a bit softer such as a lukewarm pitch directed at the posterior. Pedroia should have remained muted instead of tossing Barnes under the bus.

Chris Sale decided to reinforce the message with a more appropriate pitch that simply sailed low and behind the villain du jour Machado. That started a minor beanball war and a healthy use of editing skills as Machado’s response to all things Red Sox needed some beeping. Sale certainly showed that he is capable of sending messages on the field as well as in the clubhouse with his Edward Sissorhands routine.

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That has been the extent of the Red Sox one for all and all for one this season as they continue to sleepwalk through games. Certain skills that are repeated from tee ball to the minors and then the majors have been either ignored, forgotten or categorized as I don’t give a you know what. This team probably can be found on non-game days in a locker in the morgue.

A chip on the shoulder is often necessary to motivate a team and get them either enraged, engaged or at least build some type of collective camaraderie. Sale’s attempt may have been just that. Barnes certainly ignored Pedroia’s questionable diplomacy and went right to the old Hammurabi method of justice.

The Red Sox should not be extreme provocateurs, but neither should they be passive pushovers in the less than gentlemanly exchanges that sometimes surface on the diamond. Occasionally a message needs to be delivered and it can be a hard slide, finger-pointing, and even the ultimate – the judgement by a pitcher. So far this team has generated all the excitement of a budget reading at a school board meeting.

Next: Red Sox need an infusion of baseball fundamentals

The complacency of this squad is becoming quite apparent to Red Sox fans. Expect the usual fan response if it does not improve and that will be talk show high jinks, media torture and some creative catcalls at Fenway Park. Boston fans will take a lot, but the lack of hustle, uninspired play and lethargy will have consequences.