Evan in Hardball Times Annual!

Evan appeared in the Hardball Times Annual. Check out an excerpt on the 2012 Red Sox.

Hello all, and a very happy Thanksgiving to you!

We’re foregoing the usual article today chock-full of information because today is about stuffing the stomach chock-full of food.

However, we here at Fire Brand did want to make you aware that the Hardball Times Annual is now out for publication. And yours truly, Evan Brunell, has an article in there about the Red Sox’s 2012 season in review. Some of you may not want to relive this season, but others may want one last trip down to memory lane. Or maybe you want to show your kids and grandkids just how terrible a season it was — well, now you have such an article for it! Or how about giving the Annual as a holiday gift to that rabid baseball fan? (OK, so that means a gift to yourself!)

Below you can see an excerpt from the beginning of my article. For more information on the Annual and how to order it, head on over here.

It all started with Jonathan Papelbon.

The greatest closer in Red Sox lore trudged off the mound in Camden Yards, his stoic gaze cast downward as the Orioles engineered a stunning comeback to win Game 162 of the 2011 season, sealing one of the most historic collapses in baseball history. Improbably, the Sox had blown a nine-game lead, missing out on the post- season when Dan Johnson clinched the wild card for Tampa Bay in walk-off fashion. At that moment, everything changed.

Boy wonder general manager Theo Epstein had taken the pieces assembled by Dan Duquette and surrounded them with savvy acquisitions, many of them under the radar—and the occasional star. But then the culture of winning took over. Players felt entitled, fans loaded the bandwagon and demanded a winner, and meanwhile, ownership fell under the influence of star power. Epstein did nothing but advance this mindset, proving all too willing to just throw a blank check at the perceived best player on the market and call it a day.

By the time Papelbon walked off the field, it was apparent there had to be significant changes in how things were done in Boston. The pitching completely collapsed down the stretch, both in true performance and in luck. The pitching wasn’t just bad, it was historically bad, and the offense couldn’t keep up. But it wasn’t just the pitch- ing. The team just never jelled together—the “25 players for 25 cabs” Red Sox were back. The greatest impetus to change is shame, and the Red Sox had been through plenty of shame that September of 2011. They had no idea, however, that things were going to get much worse.

Intrigued? You should be. Come on, buy the Annual. Help support the Hardball Times. It isn’t owned by a conglomerate. It isn’t a full-time job. It’s just a lot of sweat and tears on the back of the esteemed Dave Studeman, who has been one of the most integral players in advancing sabermetrics and online baseball writing baseball will have.

Categories: Boston Red Sox

Born on the 37th anniversary of the the day Babe Ruth died (1985) which later became the day Jimy Williams was fired in 2001 (a monumental event at the time), Evan was too young to experience the pain 1986 brought, but a deep wound was sowed in 2003. Since then, Fire Brand has become a blog that Red Sox “club officials read,” as per Peter Gammons. Evan enjoys working out, writing, reading, quality television, science fiction and history and being newly married. He is a professional baseball journalist as well as president of a state non-profit and member of the Board of Directors for a national profit. (Twitter.)

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