Battle of the 7.20 ERA Champions!

First things first, shame on me for forgetting that night games in April are cold. Motherflipping cold. In fact, the two most popular vendors at Fenway last night were the hot chocolate guy and the “can I apply fire to your nuts?” guy.

But after staying until the bitter end only to see the boys come up short for the tenth time in twelve games, I realized that while there have been some Red Sox teams I’ve loved to hate — the 1992 Mo Vaughn-Jody Reed Experience comes to mind — I just can’t bring myself to boo the 2011 edition.

Instead, I feel bad for them. Real bad. Especially the new guys. Fenway was supposed to be Nirvana for Carl Crawford, a place with atmosphere and energy light years removed from the sparsely-populated Trop. Instead, the guy looks like he’d rather get stuffed in his locker than face the increasingly less tolerant Faithful. Saltalamacchia, in his first full year as heir to Varitek’s throne, likely fears for his life every time he takes bat in hand, and the standing O that Tek got when he ran in from the bullpen last night can’t make him feel much better. And Gonzalez couldn’t have picked a worse day to go 0-for-4 than the day he signs a $154m extension.

Wish I could put my finger on it, but outside of Jed Lowrie’s bat and The Elf’s usual hellfire, it’s as if everything has gone to shyte simultaneously. And there’s only so many times Pedroia can dole out the “relax, it’s gonna happen” soundbytes before even he starts spiking the team cooler with amphetamines.

This isn’t the first time the Sox have pumped up my expectations. Jack Clark was supposed to be a terror at Fenway. Butch Hobson was supposed to be the Greatest Sox Skipper Ever. Rick Aguilera was supposed to bring us to the World Series.

This is, however, the most expensive Sox team to swan dive so quickly out of the gate. But I still desperately hope they can turn it around and win 10 before they lose 20. And I do believe that once they flip the switch, as Papa Jack once declared, somebody got to pay.

I just hope it happens before the All Star break.