Commentary

Paging John Henry

As with Liverpool, the next step in this Sox saga is starting to get obvious

Updated: August 4, 2012, 6:33 AM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Nine days ago, John W. Henry made a rare appearance before reporters on the Fenway Park pitch -- in simpler times, it was known as a ballpark -- and explained why he had to sack the famous coach of his legendary soccer team.

It wasn't all Kenny Dalglish's fault, he said. But this was Liverpool, dammit, and some things just aren't acceptable.

"I think it was obvious to every Liverpool fan," Henry told the Telegraph (for comparison's sake, think Boston Globe), "that something was wrong and something needed to be done."

[+] EnlargeBen Cherington
Jim Davis/Getty ImagesRed Sox owner John Henry, Larry Lucchino and GM Ben Cherington (left-right) have some big decisions to make.

I have never counted myself among those who believe Henry does not have sufficient attention span to attend to two sporting propositions at the same time. If Jerry Reinsdorf (Bulls, White Sox) and Mike Ilitch (Red Wings, Tigers), among others, can do it, so can JWH. Especially since he has Larry Lucchino, who probably punctures soccer balls for amusement, to run the day-to-day business of his ballclub.

But while I have been assured that Henry maintains a keen interest in his baseball team, he has not offered an opinion in quite some time on the sinking fortunes of his other legendary franchise (believe me, I've asked). So it would be strictly a guess to suggest that Henry is aware he could substitute "Boston" for "Liverpool" in last week's utterance and render the same judgment of his Red Sox, losers of three straight after a 6-5, 10-inning debacle to the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.

Read it out loud and tell me that even one of you would shout down Henry if he said: "I think it was obvious to every Boston fan that something was wrong and something needed to be done."

Here's something else Henry said about his footballers: "I think that you could say the response to Kenny ... was lacking. The play was lacking, so that entered into our considerations."

On Saturday, the Red Sox will play their 108th game, meaning two-thirds of the season will be finished. They are a game under .500, which is exactly where they were a week ago, before their two last-at-bat wins against the Yankees and two wins over the potent Tigers rekindled hopes that, at long last, they were ready to stop with the tease and play the kind of baseball expected of them when they assembled in Florida in February.

Instead, they now have lost their past three -- two to the Twins, who on Thursday shut out the Sox on two hits, and who on Friday won when Sox outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Cody Ross surrounded a fly ball as if it was one of those killer otters that recently have been attacking the gentlefolk of Minnesota, letting it drop for a leadoff double by Darin Mastroianni. Then, 38-year-old Jamey Carroll delivered what Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia could not with the bases loaded in the eighth inning -- a decisive, run-scoring single.

The Sox wasted a gift three-run home run by Carl Crawford, which came courtesy of a dropped foul popup by Justin Morneau. It was one of Crawford's three hits and helped build their 5-1 lead. Ryan Lavarnway fouled out with two on to end the seventh. Will Middlebrooks fouled off six pitches, then grounded out with Lavarnway aboard on a two-out double in the ninth.

The Sox started the game with base hits that placed runners on the corners with no out in the first, and didn't score. They went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position. One step forward. Two steps back.

"The story of the season," Adrian Gonzalez said. "Got to find a way."

No, the story is worse than that. There was the 4-10 start, which was followed by a six-game winning streak, then another tailspin that left the Sox seven games under .500 on May 10, their low-water mark. They were five games over .500 on July 1. They now are 11-17 since that distant high point.

[+] EnlargeJohn W. Henry
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireWe haven't seen much of Sox owner John Henry lately, but something tells us he'll pop up soon.

Say it again, John: "I think it was obvious to every Boston fan that something was wrong and something needed to be done."

Ponder this: Since July 1, the Red Sox have the 12th-best record in the American League, ahead of only the Indians (10-18) and Royals (9-19), and yet manager Bobby Valentine brazenly suggested last weekend that the Yankees might be the team that should worry about winning the division.

"Talent can only go so far," said Ross, who said he should have caught Mastroianni's fly ball ("I should catch every ball; that's the way I feel"), although Valentine suggested Ellsbury is the one who should have had a bead on the ball. "You have to find ways to win.

"There's a difference between a talented group and a winning group. Right now, it feels like we're treading water. We've got to snap out of it. Any time you lose, it's old. We feel like we're a better team than this, that's what's strange. Tough time right now."

The Sox now can do no better than split against the Twins, who have won just 11 of 34 series this season. The Rangers, who are tied with the Yankees for the best record in the league, come in next for three.

"We haven't found a way to get on a roll," Gonzalez said, "stay on a roll. Today's frustrating because of where we're at. It's getting close to the end of the year, two months to go, and these are the kind of games it's important to win. We should have won this game."

One more time, John: "I think it was obvious to every Boston fan that something was wrong and something needed to be done."

And don't be surprised if Red Sox fans say: "Hey, John -- remember us?"

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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