Tag Archives: Red Sox

Who found who

So, the Boston Red Sox, supposedly one of the model organizations in all of baseball, are naming who as their new manager? Bobby Valentine? Wow.

I don’t know if this is a good move or a bad move. It seems that after 60 days of searching for a replacement for Terry Francona, the Red Sox would have found their Plan A, top tiered choice; or just not fired Francona. This potential move also shows that new GM Ben Cherington is just a little more of a GM than you and I. I mean I could give myself the title of Red Sox GM and this 60 day search that seems as well guided as the S.S. Minnow still would have happened. What is the 2012 season going to look like?

Clearly ownership calls all the shots, except for maybe the nitty-gritty work that they don’t want to soil their hands with. I guess that’s why they still employ an actual Baseball Operations department in the organization. If the Red Sox owners made their wealth in baseball and not in other walks of life then I would say have at it. Seriously though, this is looking more and more like a giant-sized strategy game for the ownership group to play with.

The Red Sox had one of the most talented teams in baseball in 2011. They obviously struggled to start the season, and fell completely off the table in September. Something had to be done. The Sox should still have plenty of talent in 2012. I wonder who in the clubhouse, or even in the front office, will actually show some quality leadership going forward. I am just not sure who would want to be involved with this organization based on the last several months.

Not too many years ago I was in Port St. Lucie to see a Mets spring training game. I often would travel to various locations in Florida just to catch more baseball games. Anyway, Valentine was the manager of the Mets at the time. On this day, I watched the Mets play the Orioles, and seriously, the most memorable thing about that game was watching Bobby Valentine interact with everyone. You would have thought he was running for office or something. It appeared to me at the time, and even more now, that he thought it was all about him. I don’t know anything about him as a person or as a manager really, I just know what I observed on my own that day for 3 plus hours.

I guess time will tell if this is a good move or not. Players ultimately need to step up and be professionals, not teenagers looking for any chance they can to get away with something. Maybe the new manager will help with those issues, maybe  the new guy will push them further into their own destruction. Either way, it could be quite amusing to hear the sound bytes coming out of Fort Myers in the spring.

Sox outlook for 2012

How do you think the Red Sox will finish in 2012?

If you had to guess today, before any more moves are completed, what would your answer be?

Send this around to your friends, and other fans. I would like to hear from as many of you as possible.

Select your choice below.

Sox-Go-Round

I am not sure this piece needs to be any longer than the title. I just wanted to share a few thoughts as a life long Red Sox fan who knows a lot less about them than many of you. First, as the list of accomplishments were read, listed, or discussed as Terry Francona was shunned from the organization, it was apparent to me that this guy won in Boston despite the ownership group. Francona and Bill Carrigan are the only two managers in franchise history to win two World Series titles. Carrigan had a 20-year-old kid named Babe Ruth hurling for him in 1915. Ruth was 41-20 on the mound over those two seasons. Francona won more games as manager of the Red Sox than anyone else with the exception of Joe Cronin. In this age of instant gratification, and what have you done for me lately, Terry did a pretty good job considering he didn’t pick the players and personalities that were brought to Boston. Now Francona might need to buy a ticket to get into Pink Hat Park at Fenway Amusement Central. I will get to this later.

Second, Theo Epstein now heads to the North Side of Chicago with hopes of reversing another curse, or six (the goat, the black cat, ball through Durham’s legs, Buckner’s batting glove, the dropped fly ball, Steve Bartman). Sorry Cubs fans, but my family and I already had to deal with 86 years of this stuff. Even with the signings that completely back fired while Theo was here, his resume is still impressive. I also wonder how many of these acquisitions were handed down to him from ownership and how many were him performing as a good GM, or as a bad GM. It’s hard to tell from where I sit.

Third, David Ortiz talks of the drama in Boston when asked about his future. Think about this for a minute, Ortiz was Mr. Clutch in Boston’s Championship runs in 2004 and 2007. Over those two post seasons he only hit .386 with 8 HR’s, 29 RBI’s, 27 Walks, 29 Runs scored, in 28 Games played. He was our Mr. October, the guy who could do no wrong. The player that would be welcome here forever, right? (That’s what we thought about Francona too) He’s still a fan favorite in Boston, but given that he’s a free agent DH, who hits left-handed, and just lost his biggest advocate in Boston, where do you think he will end up? Oh and did I mention that the Yankees were in the bottom half of almost every single offensive category for DH’s? True. By the way, Boston and Mr. Ortiz were ranked first in many of those same offensive categories. Just some food for thought.

Fourth, I love Fenway Park. But I am thinking I love the Fenway Park that was introduced to me when I was a kid, not the one entering its 100th season next spring. I can still remember walking up the ramp towards the light of day, emerging from the cool, concrete depths, the hard, cold hand railings, and rising up above the field. As I neared the ramp top, I could see the net come into sight, then the Green Monster, and it was all green. I saw the green, green grass, the greenest grass I had ever seen. The brown infield dirt with the infielders whipping the ball around the horn like a blur. Back then they still took infield before the games like the rest of America still does all the way through college ball. The playing field was pristine, the rest of the park was not. Why should it be? Smokey Joe Wood, Tris Speaker, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Yaz, Luis Tiant, Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Nomar, Pedro Martinez, Manny, and thousands others all played on that field. The greatest collection of baseball talent ever assembled came together for an impromptu meet and greet with the greatest hitter who ever lived on that field before the 1999 All-Star Game. It’s an old ball park and I am glad it’s still there, but it’s been through a lot. I mean, Ted Williams actually hunted pigeons in that old ball yard. I wish all the old ballparks were still around even if the Major League teams weren’t in them. Countless memories are attached to those old ballparks. And sometimes it’s okay for something old to look old, as long as it is here and still functions.

Fifth, I have no problem with the idea of pink hats at Fenway, or anywhere else, for that matter. I know many people who were wearing pink Sox hats long before the term was coined, and these folks are as die-hard Sox fans as I am, if not more so. We shouldn’t always paint with such a broad brush, because there’s beauty in the detail of individuality. There’s also beauty in the simplicity of something designed just right. Something that stands the test of time and becomes an icon for those who have interacted with it. That something is Fenway Park, not the monstrosity it has become. The Sox sell out every game as they draw from all over New England. Many of these sellouts consist of a family who makes a pilgrimage from not only New England, but from around the world just to see Fenway. Many of these people can afford to come see a game there just once, or once a season.

Sixth, Fenway was a destination for most of us without seats and suites all over the place. We went to the park to see the home team play in their sanitary home whites and those unforgettable red numerals on the back. We came to see the ball slam off the monster and how an opposing left fielder would play it. We came to see our generation’s ace on the mound and we didn’t need a radar gun to know how overpowering he was. We came to see a ball rattle around in the door on the left field line, or a ball hug the base of the wall and roll forever in the right field corner. We came to see speed and courage run a ball down in the triangle. We came to see our favorite players, our baseball heroes play a kids game on the pristine playing surface sunken between massive green walls. Knowing full well who had come before them and sensing how those heroes past looked on that same green sanctuary. We came to hear the unmistakable sound of the bat meeting the ball. We came to sing one song that we all knew, our National Anthem. We came to hear the umpire yell, “Play Ball !” Because after all it was baseball that brought us in.

I know that managers, owners, coaches, and players come and go. I also know that the Red Sox fan base, as large as it is, can be a tough group to answer to. Good organizations are good because they have good people in key positions throughout their structure, not because analytic’s generated in a bubble overlooking reality, spit out a player’s name to go and get. The Red Sox just lost two good people in my opinion. Best wishes to the new manager and GM as they stake their livelihood on spreadsheets and computers. People make the world go ’round, and good players win ballgames, but good people who can play well together win championships. I am not ready to say Terry and Theo were the problem yet. I may never say it. Because I love the Red Sox and when they resemble an actual team again I will be here watching and cheering. I just wonder how many fans will lose their grip over the cold winter, and fall off the Sox-Go-Round.

It seems about right

Baseball. Baseball in the fall. Games starting in the afternoon. It’s supposed to be played during the day, right? That’s how we played it growing up. That’s how our baseball heroes played it. It’s kind of how the season begins and ends. Afternoon games in the spring, when just listening to a game from a warm ballpark anywhere can be a release from a long winter’s icy grip here in the Northeast. Then in the autumn I remember rushing into the house to catch playoff games after school when I was a kid. It didn’t matter who was playing because it almost was never the Sox. It just seems about right to have a game on in the afternoon, any afternoon.

I have been watching some of the playoff games so far this fall, and I think the 8 teams in the playoffs seem about right. As much as I would love to cheer on the Red Sox for a couple more weeks, they were the team that just didn’t belong. I look at the shots on TV, and I see the passion, the intensity, the teams sacrificing for one another, and everybody in that dugout on the same page. Then I think about the Sox in September. I think about the runners getting thrown out, the runners trotting just hard enough to first base as to not be booed, the at bats that millionaires just gave away, the lack of intensity from 2/3 of the team any given game, and the fact that our pitchers just didn’t seem to care. Wow, what a difference from Boston’s play in September (especially) and the level of play I see in the 8 playoff teams. The Sox don’t belong with this group. Not this year.

Watch the games and see what you think. My guess is that here in the middle of Red Sox Nation that a lot of you might agree. When the baseball gods looked down on game 162 and they recalled the old Sesame Street bit of ‘which one of these doesn’t belong’ and it became clear, the Sox don’t belong. And maybe, just maybe the baseball gods gave the Sox all of Wednesday to punch their ticket and they couldn’t get out of their own way to do it. Pap gets two outs and, bang, the clock strikes midnight, 3 straight hits, game over. That left just enough time to flip the channel to watch Longoria’s laser, on the at bats’ sixth pitch, drive the final nail in the Sox coffin. I watched, I felt like it was coming, and when it did, it seemed about right.

Francona makes one final move, can you blame him?

I know there are a lot of people out there who think Terry Francona carries as much or more blame than the players, Theo Epstein, or the front office do for this season’s epic collapse. I honestly don’t know how to slice the blame pie, and who should get what piece. I do know that Francona, Theo, and the front office never won a single game of the 744 wins Francona managed for Boston. Should we really even need to have this conversation? I mean nobody was ‘blaming’ Francona for the 72 wins Boston posted between May 1st and August 31st this year. I find it odd that at the press conference after game 162 and the interviews in the following 36 hours that Tito looked more tired and worn down than anyone on his roster. Shouldn’t that tell you something?

Terry Francona, came to Boston in the off season between Grady Little (2003) and Reverse the Curse (2004). In 2004 everything went right after game 3 against the Yankees and 86 years of suffering ended. People felt in the depths of their hearts for their loved ones who never lived to see a baseball championship in Boston. Thousands of graves were visited so we could be close to the ones who never got to see the 2004 banner. Many of these folks were the ones who introduced us to the Red Sox, the mesmerizing, green of Fenway, the smells and sounds, the curse, and all things that are unmistakable about our national pastime. Those that came before us and had the passion they couldn’t wait to share with us, to take us to Fenway for the first time, to point out the heroes wearing the home whites, with those red numerals that reflect light at the correct angle. They even explained to us how we should approach the beloved Sox, believe it can be and will be, but look out for the unexpected. It reminds me of the scene from “Field of Dreams” when ‘Shoeless’ Joe shares some wisdom with ‘Moonlight’ Graham, a rookie in the corn field, and says, “he’s not gonna wanna load the bases, so look low and away … but watch out for in your ear.” Be optimistic but don’t get carried away. Well that all changed in 2004 when Terry and ‘The Idiots’ won it all. I would be willing to bet the Sox would have played in Texas today or maybe even hosted the game tonight had this year’s team played with the effort and attitude of the 2004 squad.

So here we are now, 8 years later, winners of 8 consecutive World Series games, and the year known as The Epic Collapse or something to that effect. Terry is leaving town, and we’re not sure who will come in next. I do hope it’s someone who will win and restore order among the 25 players asked to do their job day to day. I hope they’re not worn to the bone from getting lackluster effort out of assets worth tens of millions of dollars per year. I try not to make this about money and I don’t know where else to turn though. Are the playing conditions so tough in Boston that showing up and giving one’s best effort every day is too much to ask? If it is too much, then you’re getting paid too much because at some point on the way to the Bigs you would have played anywhere, anytime, for any reason, and no money because you loved it! You had nothing but the dream of making it to where only very few get too trod. Now you’re there, so show up and play! It’s a game and isn’t that supposed to be fun even if there’s travel, night games, and even fans in other cities cheering against you. How many games would be missed by this squad if it was the 1940’s and every weekend included a double header? Ernie Banks always wanted to play two and this team seemed like weren’t sure they wanted to play even one at times this year.

I have Terry’s enjoyed honest and open approach to the game and the media since he got here. The dozens of interviews and hundreds of press conferences tell me that I do like him and wish his contract was extended. In this age of instant gratification I think we give up on things that are just fine but don’t give them the time fully develop, mature, or come to fruition. Players almost never play their whole career with a single club anymore. Their every move is scrutinized by their own organization while the player being scouted to replace them looks good on paper, in the computer, and the few times they were seen in person. So management makes the move. Or the player has their big year in their ‘contract’ year and signs elsewhere not realizing how good they had it in the lineup they just left or in the city they just represented. So, Terry, what have you done for us lately? I love all the “look yourself in the mirror” stuff the last two days. Give me a break. How about this team, to a man, look themselves in the mirror and tells Terry and management where the problem lies? Lay it on the line; leave it all on the field. This group needs look no further than their clean-up hitter (at times), the strapping lad, Dustin Pedroia, for the right answers and the right way to play the game. This guy thinks he can do anything on a ball field and it doesn’t matter if it’s a road game, cold, wet, a night game or the 10th game in 10 days, and you know what? He can do almost anything on the ball field. Imagine what 25 guys with this mentality could do; oh that’s right we know what they can do. We saw it in 2004 and again in 2007 when that second squad just accepted nothing less than a title. I wonder who managed those clubs.

I for one will miss Francona next season. Unfortunately the last 4 weeks right through today tell me the Red Sox have become largely one of those organizations where the manager is driven out as a result of the passionless group he tries to rally. For some reason this collection of immense talent clearly lacked the passion and spine tingling excitement that comes with lacing them up and coming out of the foxhole on the first base line and battling for one another. Man, I get jacked up just thinking about it. Maybe these guys will find it again for themselves and for the wide eyed excited youngsters that will make their way to Fenway 100th season, led by the hand, with a lesson being taught passed down in every direction they look. Then again, maybe Terry is making the right move as he has so many times over the last 8 seasons.

Sox collapse at the Babe’s birthplace

I wrote this in the wee hours of Thursday morning after the Red Sox completed their implosion. I set this site up today and have posted this as my first post.

Where do I begin? I know it all ended in Baltimore, the birthplace of Babe Ruth. When the Sox do collapse there’s always something that can be tied to the Babe.

On September 1 the Sox were in 1st place and the Rays were 9 games back. The Yankees were a half game behind the Sox.  In September, Pedroia, Scutaro, and Ellsbury were our best players, they all hit well over .300 in September.  In the last 10 games when the pressure really mounted, these three hit .442, .405, and .354 respectively. That said, our pitching and team play were a major disappointment and it led to a meaningful game 162. Where’s Ford Frick when you need an asterisk? After 154 games (the number of games played per year prior to Maris’s magical 1961 season) the Sox led the Rays by 2 games, and one in the loss column. So here we were, Red Sox Nation geared up for game 162. What a final day of the season the baseball gods had lined up for us.

Drawn to the drama and taking the approach (hope, but understand it’s likely not to happen, no matter how close it looks) to the Sox that I have done for most of my life, I switched from NESN as soon as Crawford’s “all out” effort (didn’t he win a Gold Glove! Come on!)came up short; over to the ESPN channel showing the Yanks-Rays game and waited for the other shoe to drop. It did. It only took a couple minutes before 2nd half MVP, Longoria, hit a laser reminiscent of Big Mac’s 62nd homer in ’98 (you knew it was coming but weren’t sure you wanted it to happen) to put us all out of our misery. Damon (one of the original Idiots) goes to the playoffs for the 4th time in 6 years since leaving Boston.

As I tossed and turned in bed last night, unable to go to sleep, trying to avoid what I had just seen, and several thoughts ran through my mind.

  • First of all, why couldn’t I go to sleep? I mean I kind of expected the outcome the way this team had been going.
  • Secondly, I thought about the scene in Fever Pitch when Ben finally misses a game and the Sox score 7 in the 9th to beat the Yankees. Kind of like what the Rays did in the 8th and 9th last night.
  • Thirdly, I wondered how many players on this Sox team cared about this less than I did. Except for Ells, Scutaro, and Pedey, this team played September like they were watching the pennant race on TV and not actually participating in it.
  • Fourth, good for Lavarnway, the rookie who was raw enough, and prima dona-less enough, not to be tense the night before and put the Sox in the position they were in for game 162.
  • Fifth, I thought, and maybe I am wrong, that players used to play through more pain in the past. Or at least they played and contributed to their club more times than just the days they felt 100%. That’s when teams were teams and when players weren’t their own multi-million dollar organizations. I know injuries are real and I also know what a shot in the arm it can be to a team when someone plays, even at 75% because it’s the team thing to do. Oh and maybe so they can earn their contract, big or small. How many games were missed this year for reasons that we would have gladly contended with, and played through if we had a chance to play?
  • Finally, I thought that the baseball playoffs just became must less interesting for me (even though I will watch), and that Thursday night brings us the one Bruins pre-season game on NESN, and next Thursday they hang the banner. Go Bruins!