Commentary

Sawx collapse, chaos is simply Amazin'

This year's BoSox thought they were the Yankees; they ended up being the Mets

Updated: October 13, 2011, 9:37 PM ET
By Rob Parker | ESPNNewYork.com

As more and more details come out about the Boston Red Sox's epic collapse, the more you realize it has New York written all over it.

Coming into the season, the Red Sox thought they were the New York Yankees, making a big splash with the trade for slugger Adrian Gonzalez and the big free-agent signing of Carl Crawford.

In reality, the Red Sox wound up being the New York Mets. They spent tons of cash, seemingly on the wrong players, only to finish on the outside looking in during the postseason.

Oh yeah. We've seen both of these stories before.

[+] EnlargeMr. Met
Andy Kropa/Getty ImagesHey Red Sox, need a new mascot?

The Red Sox were the Yankees coming into the season. After all, they spent $296 million to help them improve their team enough to get back in the postseason. Remember, they didn't get to the playoffs in 2010 and even though they made it to the postseason in 2009, they were swept by the Los Angeles Angels.

Boston's moves were so bold, so impressive, they rocked baseball. That's why all the talk was about the Red Sox in the offseason. All 45 experts on ESPN.com picked Boston to win the American League East.

And the Yankees? Even with their $200 million payroll, they were under the radar. Many felt that because the Yankees weren't able to land Cliff Lee to replace the retiring Andy Pettitte in the rotation, they didn't have a shot at the division. Some even thought the Bronx Bombers wouldn't make the playoffs.

The Red Sox were supposedly taking a page from the Yankees' game plan before the 2009 season. The Bombers signed CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira for a whopping $423.5 million. It broke the bank and made many call the Yankees' spending unfair, starting all the salary cap talk once again.

The Red Sox, though, didn't have the magic the Yankees had. The Yankees, with their key signings, won the World Series, beating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games, their first championship since 2000.

Many in Boston thought they would have the same result. After all, the Red Sox were adding the missing hitting to a pitching staff widely believed to be tops in the American League.

And after a slow start -- 2-10 -- the Red Sox were off and running, playing the kind of ball they were expected to. They held a two-game divisional lead over the Yankees after an Aug. 27 doubleheader sweep of Oakland and a nine-game advantage in the wild-card race over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Then came a collapse of historic proportion. The Yankees won 97 games and the division title. The Red Sox lost their last game of the season, allowing the Rays, who came back from a 7-0 deficit against the Yankees, to secure the wild-card spot and shock Beantown.

When the dust cleared, the Red Sox were the Mets in more ways than one.

Too often the Mets have spent big money on players without getting the postseason payoff at the end. Many thought the signings of Johan Santana (six years, $137.5 million) and Jason Bay (four years, $66 million) would get the Mets back in the playoffs mix in the National League East with the Phillies and Atlanta Braves.

Both have been busts. Santana hasn't been able to stay healthy. Bay hasn't been able to hit at Citi Field the way he did at Fenway Park.

New Yorkers have also witnessed two big-time collapses by the Mets in the past four seasons. In 2007, the Mets had a 7.5-game lead with just 17 games to play. Not only did they lose the division, they didn't even make the playoffs. The next season, the Mets had a 3.5-game lead after 145 games. They went 7-10 down the stretch and the Phillies won the division on the way to winning the World Series.

And the story that Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester were drinking beer, ordering fried chicken and playing video games in the clubhouse on days they weren't pitching during a September swoon sounds like something the Mets would do.

Boston wanted to be New York, but got the wrong team. So sad. Maybe not.

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