Boston Red Sox

Jul 23, 2019; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora (20) comes out to the mound but starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) tells him he wants to stay to finish pitching the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

By Matt McCarthy,

The 2019 Red Sox season came to an end Sunday.

Did anybody notice?

It goes without saying that the Red Sox title defense was nothing short of a massive disappointment. To follow up last year’s 119-win campaign with this mess was as dissatisfying at it gets. But this team was more than just underwhelming, they were irrelevant.

There was no anger directed at the Red Sox this year. For fans to be angry, they have to care. They didn’t. Boston felt nothing but apathy towards this team, and for good reason.

They never gave you a reason to buy in. There wasn’t a single stretch of the season where they looked like a real contender. They really never gave you any joy.

From beginning to end, it was a tractor pull. A slog. It was honestly a hard year to be a fan.

Good riddance to the 2019 Red Sox.

Feb 18, 2019; Lee County, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski (L) watches with owner John Henry (C) and co-owner Linda Pizzuti Henry (R) during a spring training workout at Jet Blue Park at Fenway South. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

People pushed away from this team and I can’t blame them. I know I pushed away. There was never really a reason to watch.

And if you did watch, it was a tough product to take in. The Red Sox played a horrific brand of baseball this year, playing the longest games on average in the major leagues.

Pace-of-play is the greatest threat to the sport and the Red Sox did their part to kill baseball on a nightly basis.

But don’t tell that to them. It wasn’t their fault.

“We slow it down. But the opposition slow it down more than we do. Maybe that’s the reason our games are longer,” manager Alex Cora told Chris Smith of MassLive last week.

That statement is categorically untrue. It has little to do with the opposing team and nearly everything to do with the Red Sox. They have led baseball in length of game for the last three seasons and have led the American League in time of game for the last four years.

Perhaps the interminable games weren’t as noticeable with a winning team, but they were certainly impossible to ignore with a losing team.

Jul 24, 2019; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora (20) comes out and reacts to umpires about the lineup change during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Whether the Red Sox will continue their organizational philosophy to slow the game down remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that changes are coming. The problem is nobody has any earthly idea who will be driving that change.

It’s fair to wonder if John Henry and company will be able to lure a top general manager to Boston. The last two GMs got fired less than two years after winning a World Series. Could you blame somebody if they wanted a little more job security than Henry offers?

This uncertainty comes ahead of the most important offseason in recent memory. The future of the franchise depends on the decisions that will be made in the coming months and it seems like the Red Sox are at a crossroads with no real road map to work with.

They have no farm system, their pitching staff is in shambles, and Mookie Betts’ impending free agency after the 2020 season looms over the team like a dark cloud. It’s hard not to look at this winter with real trepidation.

But for the first time in a long time, I was happy to see the Red Sox season end on Sunday.

I just wonder if anybody else noticed or cared.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.

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