This was Paul Konerko's last summer with the White Sox.

This was Paul Konerko’s last summer with the White Sox.

It’s unseasonably warm today. As September crawls to a close and gets ready to give way to October, it’s 84 degrees in Boston, t-shirt weather that seems more appropriate for at least a month earlier.

It’s been a weird summer that way. After a brutal winter that practically wiped out spring until mid-May, there were fewer brutally hot days than New England is used to, but all the same, the summer seemed to whip by. And what started with so much hope and ramped-up expectations quickly gave way to a different kind of hope, one directed towards the future and peppered with attempts to find the good as the chaos reigned for so long.

A season that started with the Red Sox as World Series champions, with Derek Jeter in New York and Paul Konerko in Chicago and Adam Dunn bashing home runs indiscriminately ends today with none of those things happening. The Sox fell apart and traded away a number of players who were so important to a championship a year ago — Jon Lester, Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew among them. Jeter’s bat went into hiding with his already AWOL glove, but he kept his spot near the top of the order all year as the Yankees missed the playoffs again. Konerko went quiet, too, but he gave way to his successor, Jose Abreu. (more…)

Jon Lester, bearing down, as usual.

Jon Lester, bearing down, as usual.

In the midst of a last-place tenure, fans have two things to fall back on: enjoying the game that day in a vacuum, and dreaming about a better future.

The Boston Red Sox in the midst of a doomed season have done their part to drum up at least some excitement to days ahead, playing rookies and letting fans wonder about the talent percolating in Pawtucket and Portlant. While 2014 is doomed, maybe there’s a light in 2015.

That mindset doesn’t mesh well with sentimentality, though, where Jon Lester, the team’s ace, is concerned. It looks increasingly likely that he won’t be in the 2015 team photo. He might not even make it to Friday, which is tough to swallow for those who have watched him develop for the past nine seasons. (more…)

Credit to the immortal Jon Couture for capturing this moment.

Credit to the immortal Jon Couture for capturing this moment.

Just before I started paying attention to baseball and, by default, the Boston Red Sox, the team had undergone a transformation, sliding from a pennant winner to the basement and back.

I missed most of that. When I hopped on the train, Mike Greenwell and Ellis Burks were kings, with Dwight Evans providing the steady guidance of a veteran. A lot of older players had already been cast aside, but Bill Buckner was probably more likeable than A.J. Pierzynski.

Blaming everything that’s gone wrong with the 2014 Red Sox on their former catcher would be lazy and probably inaccurate. Pierzynski was (and is) an aging catcher with a less-than-stellar reputation both on defense and in personality — his career highlight for a lot of fans was being punched in the face by Michael Barrett in 2006.

Instead, Pierzynski has unwittingly served as a marker in the sand, documenting the changing tides of the team. When he arrived, he was a stopgap, a veteran presence with plenty of pop left in his bat to keep the Red Sox in contention while younger players worked their way through the system. (more…)

Bob Welch won games, and that's as much as I could say for a long time.

Bob Welch won games, and that’s as much as I could say for a long time.

What did I know as a kid? So close to “nothing” that I’m shocked I even made it to middle school.

I knew I wanted people to like me, but understood so little about how other people thought or moved as a group that I could never keep up. Solitude was much easier to handle. I could sit in my room and keep track of the various nonsensical things I liked in my notebooks and watch sports and follow players and try to get an understanding on how the game worked, who was good and who wasn’t.

From this perspective, it was a lot easier to get a grasp on things. I could watch baseball, for example, and understand how it worked, what was supposed to happen and what was not supposed to happen. I knew that in a lineup, the fastest players hit first, the best hitters hit third and the biggest power threats hit fourth. I knew that power pitchers were big, burly guys and that control pitchers were older, a little funnier looking maybe, but could be counted on for seven or eight innings every night. And closers, even within the facial-hair-friendly world of baseball circa 1989-93, all had mustaches. (more…)

Brock Holt is just hitting everything he sees, it seems.

Brock Holt is just hitting everything he sees, it seems.

On April 19, the Boston Red Sox came back in the late innings to top the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. David Ortiz took Bud Norris deep to right field for a fourth-inning home run, and in the bottom of the seventh, Brock Holt, batting ninth and playing third in place of an injured Will Middlebrooks, hit a triple into the triangle to tie the game and, eventually, score the go-ahead run on a Jonathan Herrera bunt.

Since then, the Red Sox have been down, then up, and then down again. But two constants seem to be taking shape. First, Ortiz is still a monster and hits when he’s supposed to hit. And Holt has become the team’s best hope for a catalyst, someone at the top of the order to work pitchers and give the rest of the lineup a chance as spring turns to summer and the season starts to dwindle.

It’s still a weird team and a weird season where they don’t seem as out of the race as they likely should seem. Jonny Gomes has played much more than he should, thanks to injuries and the unofficial exile of Daniel Nava (though he seems to be squeaking back into the lineup). The season isn’t yet a lost cause, and there’s plenty to be hopeful for this season — Jon Lester and John Lackey anchoring the rotation, the continued growth of Xander Bogaerts, Mike Napoli getting on base every single day, David Ortiz doing his David Ortiz thing whenever possible, etc. (more…)