With Red Sox breakdown, that bad old feeling is back in Boston

You know the sports gods are looking the other way when your only recourse is to root for your sworn enemy to save you. For Red Sox Nation, it's going to be a long winter.

Patrick Semansky/AP
Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia reacts in the dugout in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, Sept. 28, in Baltimore. Baltimore won 4-3, and Boston was eliminated from the playoffs after the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees in extra innings minutes after Boston's loss.

Yup. That feeling is back. I forgot about this feeling. The past 10 years have been one Duck Boat parade after another. All four major pro sports teams have won a title. Seven in all. Absurd. I have talked smack until I was blue in the face.

This morning I need to remember who I was before the Boston Red Sox broke "the curse" and won the World Series in 2004.

I never believed before that.

But in the years since I have come to expect a parade. I once scheduled a week's vacation so I could fully enjoy the celebrations that would come with the 2007 New England Patriots winning a fourth Super Bowl. I ended up using that time to sulk.

Anything that the sports gods could do to remind me that all good things come to an end, they did last night. The Red Sox lost 20 of their last 27 games to complete the biggest collapse in baseball history. After blowing a lead in the ninth with two outs, Red Sox Nation had to cheer for our sworn enemy to save us.

No problem. The New York Yankees had a seven-run lead going into the eighth inning against the Rays. The sports gods said wait a minute. After tying the game in the ninth inning, the Rays came roaring back in the 12th with a walk-off solo home run by Evan Longoria to take the wild card spot.

Lesson learned? You cannot cheer for your enemy and expect a great outcome.

By the way, the Red Sox once held a nine-game lead in the AL wild card race.

Is there any good to come out of all this? Not today.

But there will be a lot of hard questions to address during the winter. The combined salaries of three of the latest Red Sox acquisitions (John Lackey, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez) total more than the entire payroll of the Tampa Bay Rays at little more than $41 million. Clearly, trying to buy a playoff spot doesn't work. There may even be a change coming in the manager spot. Sox skipper Terry Francona has proven to be great at getting the most out of underachieving players, but does he have the command to get the best out of the high-priced ones?

It is going to be a long winter here in New England.

Editor's note: The article originally misstated the lead held by the New York Yankees.

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