QUITTING TIME

(Originally published at Bellyupsports.com)

Everyone loves quitting time. Except Red Sox fans.

Baseball is stunned this week after one of its wealthiest teams gave away its best player. Who do they think they are, the Twins?

Quitting While they’re Behind

As an aside, The Sports Critic remembers when the Twins traded Frank Viola to the Mets in 1989. The deal happened seconds before the July 31st trade deadline. But somebody at The Critic’s hometown paper, the Binghamton Press, must have decided to quit early that night. The actual sports page headline on August 1st was, “Mets Fail to Acquire Twins Viola.” Missed the point by just two words: “Fail to.” The Critic still regrets not having that one framed for posterity.

Anyway, are the Red Sox quitting on 2020? Does Jarron Cumberland have tattoos?

A Varmint Will Never Quit

What’s stunning is that these Sox are one of baseball’s richest teams. They can afford to compete every year. If the Southside White Sox were quitting on a season, who could blame them? They’ve quit on almost every season (including and especially 1919) and play in a detested stadium in front of hundreds (sometimes) of fans. Meanwhile the BoSox have a famed bandbox of a stadium, are beloved throughout New England and have an entire nation named after them. It doesn’t bode well for the year 2020 that they are already giving up.

As another aside, The Sports Critic was working at CNN when one of the technical people became upset at the spelling of Sox and changed it, on screen, to “Socks.” As they say in Spanish, “It is what it is.”

Boston’s decision to say no mas goes back to the Astros cheating scandal. Alex Cora, who was fired just one season after winning the 2018 World Series for the Sox, was fingered in the 2017 Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal (he was a coach on that Houston squad). Rumor has it he may have brought his cheating heart with him to Boston for that championship season. In any event, the Red Sox dumped him, then dumped Betts in quick succession.

I Wish I Could be Quitting You

As with so many things, The Sports Critic blames Philadelphia. The 76ers started the current quitting craze in 2013. The team literally (and I am literally using that word correctly) told fans that it was giving up on the season. “Trust the process,” the 76ers insisted and went to work trading effective NBA players for CBA failures. Sports Illustrated explained that the goal was, “To increase the team’s chances at a top draft pick by losing.” In other words, quitting. (As Dilbert’s boss knows, everything sounds worse, “in other words.”

Quit Your Whining

There is a simple solution to quitting. Send losing teams down to the minors. In English soccer, they call it “relegation.” Instead of giving the worst teams top draft choices, the league gives them one-way tickets to the minor leagues, and it rewards top minor league teams with a chance to move up to the top level.

Instead of the biblical, “The last shall be first,” English soccer fans get, “The last shall be banished.” Nothing focuses the mind like a few years in the wilderness.

Some of us have been looking forward to 2020 since Hugh Downs retired. For Red Socks fans, a promising vision has turned blurry. They’d better get bifocals to watch this season.

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