While, every franchise has had a year when they just collapsed, Boston has made a history of it. In every case, it appeared there was absolutely no way Boston could lose. So the question is: who will be their choke artist in 2018?
It was Mike Torrez who served up the gopher ball to Bucky Dent in ’78. Bucky had fouled the previous pitch off of his foot, causing a delay before he stepped back into the batter’s box. Of course, he proceeded to loft the next pitch over Fenway’s Green Monster.
In 1986. Boston faced the Mets in the World Series. In game six, Mookie Wilson dribbled a grounder to first baseman Bill Buckner. All Buckner had to do was scoop up the grounder and the Red Sox could order the champagne. But the ball slipped through his legs like a croquet ball through the wicket.
In 2003, Aaron Boone stepped to the plate for the Yankees against Tim Wakefield. Wakefield floated in a knuckler. Boone smashed it over the left field wall, and the Yankees were headed to the World Series.
In 2009, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon took the mound to finish off the Angels in the American League Divisional Series. But Papelbon surrendered three runs, and the Angels won 7-6. Beantown hearts were broken again.
In 1974, Boston sat in first place by seven games on August 23. They stumbled with a 7-19 record the rest of the way, finishing in third place. This time, it was a total team collapse.
So who will feel the collar around his neck for the Red Sox in 2018? J.D. Martinez is a good choice. He recently boasted that Aroldis Chapman was no longer intimidating.
So let’s see Chapman versus Martinez with two outs in the ninth and everything on the line in the postseason. Lets see if his bat is as big as his mouth when the pressure is on, when there is no comfort of a big lead in the standings.
Yes, Martinez would be the perfect one to feel the Red Sox collar around his neck.