Dan Shaughnessy

One low point after another

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By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / April 8, 2011

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And the hits just keep on coming.

In their latest move to make friends and endear themselves to local fans, Fenway Sports Management yesterday announced it has inked Ulf Samuelsson and Matt Cooke to work on business deals worldwide.

Red Sox chairman Tom Werner termed the FSM-Samuelsson-Cooke alliance “a powerful collaboration,’’ adding, “There are few athletes who can match their global reach, appeal, and iconic status.’’

OK, I made all that up. But we’ve reached a point where Red Sox fans can’t be surprised by anything. The impossible has become the norm, and would it really surprise you if the tone-deaf folks at FSM solicit Alex Rodriguez when he reports for duty at Fenway this weekend?

The 0-6 Red Sox stagger home today for the 100th Fenway opener. This means no more safe havens in Texas and Cleveland. After a week on the road, the Sox must wallow in regional hysteria triggered by their worst start since 1945 (when all the real players were at war).

Can it get any worse?

Of course it can. The 1988 Baltimore Orioles started 0-21. President Ronald Reagan called manager Frank Robinson after 0-18 and said, “I know what you’re going through.’’

“Mr. President, you have no idea what I’m going through,’’ snapped Robinson.

Terry Francona would second that emotion. The affable skipper of this Best Team Ever has tried just about everything to coax a win out of the overstuffed local nine. Nothing has worked. Maybe it’s time for Tito to execute a five-star Jack Nicholson/Mike Milbury nutty.

Not to be negative, but the Elias Sports Bureau reports that only two teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-6 — the 1974 Pirates and the 1995 Reds. This is only the fourth Red Sox team to start 0-6, and if the Sox lose today, it’s officially the second-worst start in franchise history.

Remember those days of talking about 100 wins? How about one win? Just one.

They have lost in every way imaginable. They have been routed. They have been beaten, 1-0. They have seen bullpen blowups (Dennys Reyes in Game 5 goes down as perhaps the worst relief appearance of all time). They have failed to produce quality starts (other than Jon Lester yesterday) and they haven’t hit with runners in scoring position. Yesterday they lost because a pinch runner (good guy Darnell McDonald) was overaggressive and got tagged out diving back to second base.

It’s chaos. Daisuke Matsuzaka stills needs a translator while Jason Varitek yells at him in the dugout. Varitek neglects to tag a base runner Wednesday night, thinking the force is on, and a run scores. Carl Crawford is hanging his head, talking to himself. They’re not getting the calls. Daniel Bard has given up the winning run twice. Kevin Youkilis can’t get a hit with a man in scoring position. New pitching coach Curt Young and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (hitting a robust .071) are under the microscope. The Sox have been outscored, 38-16.

McDonald’s stumble was symbolic. The whole team has fallen down. And now we turn our eyes to John “Let ’em in’’ Lackey, who gave up nine runs in 3 2/3 innings in Texas. Today will be Adrian Gonzalez’s first game ever at Fenway and somebody needs to explain to Yo Adrian that Sox home openers are not generally filled with so much fear and loathing.

Over the winter, Sox fans had a lot of fun at the expense of the Yankees. Citizens of Sox Nation mocked Brian Cashman and repeatedly painted the Pinstripes as old and pitching-poor. Now the Yankees are in town with a chance to take a seven-game lead over the Sox just nine games into the season.

Any way you look at it, the Sox haven’t been the same since John Henry bought Liverpool FC. Maybe this is the Curse of Roy Hodgson. It’s certainly a good time for the Sox to be petitioning the city to serve mixed drinks at Fenway. We all might need a little Jack to get through this season of great expectations.

One week ago, before the first game, I asked Francona about the burden of being everybody’s World Series favorite.

“I don’t see the harm in that,’’ he said calmly. “To be honest, expectations in our clubhouse are high.’’

Today the Sox are sinking under the weight of their own press clippings and there’s a trace of glee in some of the have-not hardball hamlets.

The first week of this baseball season has us longing for the good old days of 2010. A “bridge year’’ would look pretty good right about now.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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