Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Today we rejoice!

Monster Baby is not excited...but we can be! (Click here for the rest of my Truck Day pics)

I know how (a lot of) you feel. You want to be excited. Pitchers and catchers report today! This is out day to be full of joy and happy and merry anticipation! But you have concerns or, worse yet, you don’t seem to care at all. You want to care, you do, but there are so many negative residual feelings left over from 2011 that you aren’t sure if you can. I have felt this same way for the entire off-season.

I went to Truck Day armed with my camera and a hope that seeing Fenway and the equipment truck would shake me out of it. I then spent many hours after that truck departed lamenting the state of my beloved team and using some very strong curse words to describe various players still wearing the Red Sox. So I get it. I know that every time you see Terry Francona on ESPN you’re going to be sad. I know that every Phillies game that Fox airs on a Saturday afternoon is going to make you want to throw things at the television every time they show Jonathan Papelbon. I know some of you are secretly hoping that every move Theo Epstein makes turns out to be an epic failure for the Cubs (maybe that last one is just me). As much as it annoys me when people say this so casually, I’ll let Cher give you my advice:

Because what other choice do you have? I can’t choose to be miserable. I mean hell, sure I can CHOOSE to be miserable but why would I? Why is so much of sports fandom wrapped up in being pro-actively unhappy? Many of the decisions made by this team lately have dumbfounded me. Some have angered me. But on April 13th, thanks to the generosity of a dear friend, my butt will be in Fenway Park freezing as it has been for many years now. Why am I going to attend a baseball game in person in APRIL* if I don’t care about the damn team? I’m not. But this year I will be there because, dammit, no matter how many Popeye’s jokes get made I want to see Josh Beckett et al lead this damn team to victory.

I am tired of being sad or, worse, indifferent about what has happened to my team. (Yes, I said “my” team. It’s my team. It’s your team too. It’s our team. I try to avoid it when writing, but I use “we” in reference to the team as well. Not going to change now.) I can choose to put all the unpleasantness behind me (yesterday’s Twitter bombing of all the Boston sports writers covering Papelbon’s press conference didn’t help that, admittedly) and focus on the new season or I can just wallow for a while. (I’ve been wallowing for a LONG while and, quite frankly, am sick to death of it.) So I woke up this morning and decided that enough was enough. I’m going to embrace this day like I’ve embraced every one of these days for many, many years now.

Pitchers and catchers report today, people. Rejoice, friends, for Spring Training is upon us!

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February 19, 2012 Posted by | 2012 | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tito isn’t walking through that door

We'll never replace the man but we need to fill the position, folks. (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

I’m trying to corral all the thoughts I have about Bobby Valentine possibly (probably?) being the new Red Sox manager so forgive me in advance for what will most likely be rambling.

I’ll start off by saying his was the first name I (at the time) somewhat jokingly dropped when Terry Francona left because in my post-team meltdown haze I was so mad I wanted the team to have a manager who I thought would kick those guys in the behind if they needed it and not be afraid to tell them to cut the crap. In my (now) lessened haze of anger, I have no idea if that is even realistic.  How do you give grown men a kick in the pants and get them to stop acting a certain way?  Isn’t that why Tito left the team, because he couldn’t do that?  Everyone holds Tito up as the perfect manager and he (by his own admission) lost control of this team.  So why would I think someone with the abrasive personality of a Bobby Valentine would make things any better?

Here’s where I digress for a moment.

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November 30, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 4 Comments

Take a breath, Red Sox fans

I have my preferences.  Terry Francona left me with a feeling of calm when it came to future mangers with little experience or not-great records.  I haven’t been bothered or worried by the choices showing up for interviews on Yawkey Way because I’m good with there being a process I pay little attention to that the folks in charge of hiring would be more in touch with.  Over there, they all know more about what it takes to get a good managerial fit for this team than I do and, regardless of my preferences, I have faith that the person they pick will be chosen for reasons that make sense to the team and will, eventually, work well with what they have.

I never thought, given all that was revealed and went on when the 2011 season ended, that I’d be more annoyed with the fans than the organization but today that’s how I feel.  When it was announced that Dale Sveum had accepted the manager position with the Chicago Cubs, suddenly people who had spent days lamenting that the Red Sox would even think of considering Sveum, were hand-wringing over the Red Sox losing him to Chicago.  Then the unsubstantiated rumors came out that Bobby Valentine is on the top of the list of Red Sox candidates for manager, making people begin talking about how Ben Cherington has no control and Larry Lucchino will run the team into the ground.

Here’s where I feel like I need to write my feelings down somewhere just so they don’t get lost in everyone else’s hysteria.

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November 18, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Friday Ramblings

With these manager openings popping up in the National League (in the last week Theo Epstein fired Mike Quade and Tony LaRussa retired), it shouldn’t surprise me that Terry Francona’s name is being bandied about…and it doesn’t surprise me, but it makes me a bit melancholy for the time before September 2011.

I want Tito to continue to be successful in baseball if that’s what he’s looking to do…but I don’t know that I’m ready for him to be someone else’s manager.  He’s still ours, in my mind.  And more than anything, I certainly don’t want to see him going to Chicago.  I know we’re supposed to be moving on but watching both Theo in Tito working together with another team would be something really tough for me to get past.

Still trying to decide if I’m high on either Pete Mackanin or Dale Sveum as Red Sox manager.  I’ll admit to being a bit more intrigued with the idea of either Sandy Alomar, Jr., or Mike Maddux, though.  If we had Alomar in Boston just think of all the amusement WEEI could get out of pretending he was his brother and making spitting jokes.  Ah, the hilarity that would ensue!

Really, though, I like Sandy and would like to hear more from and about him.  Mike Maddux’s moustache would distract me terribly.  Sometimes, I’m just that shallow.

For all the activity around the Red Sox this off-season, it still seems too quiet.  Nothing major happening (unless you count David Ortiz sharing the news that the Red Sox didn’t make him a contract offer prior to yesterday’s deadline.  He’s now, officially, on the free agent market, along with Jonathan Papelbon and the rest of the guys ~ oh yeah, and the Red Sox fired strength and conditioning coach Dave Page and assistant athletic trainer Greg Barajas…that should make some of the bloodthirsty throng happy); it feels like the, relative, calm before the massive storm.

Maybe I’m projecting from a place totally unrelated to baseball, but I can’t shake the feeling that as big as losing Theo and Tito were to this team, there’s another blockbuster of some sort around the corner.  I so look forward to Truck Day, when all of this is behind us.

November 4, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 3 Comments

Because we haven’t had enough…

Wasn’t it nice back when none of the players were responding to the criticisms brought about by Bob Hohler’s article?  Remember those halcyon days?

Now we have Jon Lester personally calling just about every sports writer in New England, Josh Beckett and John Lackey releasing statements, yesterday was Jason Varitek fielding softballs from Greg Hill on WAAF and today we get Clay Buchholz on WEEI at 1pm with Lou Merloni.  Hooray for mass communication!

While the players all say that drinking in the clubhouse during a game isn’t a big deal, apparently drinking in the dugout is, as that report is what got Beckett and Lackey to speak up.  Essentially the players are saying, “Sure we drank in the clubhouse but we wouldn’t dream of bringing those cups of beer into the dugout!  The horror!”.

Personally, I find there to be no difference.  If you’re drinking during a game, whether in the clubhouse or dugout, you’re drinking during a game.  It would be nice if these guys would spend more time trying to break down exactly what happened in September since they’re so certain it had nothing to do with drinking or a fractured clubhouse.  My interpretation of what is being said is “We just sucked and there is no reason for it”, which, frankly, doesn’t fly.

All through September I wrote about (and argued) how I absolutely didn’t believe that the team just “stopped caring”.  It was unbelievable to me that a team of professionals could not care about the outcome of the games or the season given how hard they worked.  I still feel like there were plenty of players who didn’t just give up but I feel like I still have to eat my words because frankly, the quotes these guys are tossing out there right now pretty much feel like they’re saying they didn’t care…and that is much more disappointing than the team losing.

I hope Tito is having a cup of green tea this morning, reflecting on what an amazing run he had with the Red Sox and thanking God that he’s away from the mess they have become.

Seven years ago today, the Red Sox won game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, beating the Yankees and confirming their spot in baseball history.  All of this ridiculousness won’t change that but it sure makes me long for those days.

October 20, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sit down, Jon

I spent most of today offline, working on a family project that will take up a lot of time and bring me much joy.  I need the distraction from the world of baseball right now.  So when I finally jumped back online this evening I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Jon Lester had spoken at length about the accusations coming off of Yawkey Way right now.

That was before I actually read what he said.

There are plenty of places to read the quotes by Lester.  I suppose I should say “good for him” for speaking out but I’m just not feeling it.  Sure he came out and said the reason they lost had nothing to do with ownership, Theo Epstein or Terry Francona and placed the blame all on the team but he also blew off the talk of the pitchers not being on the bench and instead being in the clubhouse drinking and said that as much as he was fond of Tito it was probably time for him to go.

Let me get this part out first because I keep reading people making jokes about anyone getting up in arms over a few baseball players having beers on days they aren’t playing and I feel like it’s getting overlooked or, really, just ignored for the sake of keeping up the narrative.

I don’t think there is anyone who begrudges anyone else a beer.  And I’m sure that having drinks in the clubhouse after the game is common but there is no scenario I can imagine where it’s appropriate for a clique of pitchers to leave the dugout  during a game and have beers instead of acting like part of the team.  Having written that, it seems to me that the bigger issue isn’t specifically that they were drinking beer but that in doing whatever they were doing in that clubhouse (which, even by Lester’s account, was drinking beer) was disrespecting not only their teammates but their manager. I really don’t care how you defend the beer drinking, being a group of entitled asses segregating yourself from the rest of your team and ignoring your manager is unacceptable.

Here’s what Lester said about Terry Francona:

But there comes a time when your authority is no longer there. You kind of run your course. People knew how Tito was and we pushed the envelope with it. We never had rules, we never had that iron-fist mentality. If you screwed up, he called you on it. That was how it worked.

“I never saw guys purposely breaking rules or doing the wrong thing in front of him and rubbing it in his face. But this particular team probably needed more structure. Tito was the perfect guy for this team for a long time but I think he got burnt out.”

Let me break down his tripe:

*  But there comes a time when your authority is no longer there ~ The only way I will grant Lester this is if the clubhouse was full of new players who hadn’t played under Tito before.  It makes no sense that Tito’s authority would suddenly be gone with players who have worked for him previous to 2010.  Now, I don’t find Tito blameless in all of this. If the stories are true it’s very possible he let his private life get in the way of his doing his job properly.  But this is a two-way street and players, ADULTS, who have worked for him before should have the maturity to treat him with the respect he deserves.

* People knew how Tito was and we pushed the envelope with it ~ You don’t push the envelope when you’re in your late twenties and early thirties.  You are grown, professional men and you’re admitting you acted like teenagers taking advantage of your single mom working nights.

* This particular team probably needed more structure ~ This quote makes me want to kick Lester repeatedly. How many men on that team are over the age of 25?  How many are married men with children?  Again, we’re talking about adults who should not be whining that they need “more structure”.

* I think he got burnt out ~ No, Jon, you burned him out.  And all your talk of what “good guys” you all are is falling on deaf ears over here.  Good guys don’t act like idiots.  Good guys don’t force their manager, one of the best at his job and the most successful ever on your team, to quit the job they love.  Good guys don’t blame the media for a witch hunt when the things they are reporting are accurate.

Plenty of people are writing or talking tonight about how great it is that Lester came clean and took the blame for what went on. I’d love to feel that way and was hoping that was the case.  But his words about Tito really come across harsh here.  Tito treated this guy like a son and his way of repaying all of that is to disrespect him and chalk it up to Tito being burned out.  I’m disgusted.  I mean, I was already disgusted but this media blitz, which I’m sure he was hoping would make everyone remember that he’s Jon Lester and everyone gives him a long rope, only enhanced my disgust.  I’d love this all to go away but it seems obvious now that we’re going to have to deal with more of these interviews from more players before we get finished with this garbage.

October 18, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , | 3 Comments

Eating our own

I wrote this as a comment to someone’s remark about being “embarrassed’ to root for the Red Sox because of the way the front office is (supposedly) acting and figured I’d write it here as well because all of this shame and embarrassed talk has been bandied about an awful lot lately.

I don’t get everyone talking about being embarrassed to root for the Red Sox. You either root for them or you don’t. If folks are so bothered by the team there’s always the option to not support them. But, for me, the idea of not supporting the team because you think the owners are asses makes no sense since I’ve been supporting the team longer than the current ownership has been in place, and the team has had other owners (and GMs) who were assholes too.

And I mean it. Since when do we root for the team based on who owns it?  Prior to this ownership, were things so great between the front office and the players?  Did we have baseball crushes on the General Mangers before Theo?  What happened in 2004 (and then in 2007) brought this magical atmosphere to Fenway Park and made people forget the realities of being baseball fans…especially being baseball fans in Boston.  Sometimes you aren’t going to love everyone associated with your team.  You decide to be a fan and you can decide to not be a fan.  That’s on you, no one else.

For me, the team personalities are more important than those of the folks running the team.  Today we heard from two players, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.  Pedroia spent his time defending Terry Francona and talking about how all the controversy and the terrible way the season ended will add fuel to his fire and the team will come back stronger than ever.  Here’s a quote from Papi, courtesy of ESPN Boston:

“There’s too much drama, man,” Ortiz told Dominguez in reference to the Red Sox. “There’s too much drama. I have been thinking about a lot of things. I don’t know if I want to be part of this drama for next year.”

Papi also went on to not rule out playing for the Yankees.

Really?  Your team just pulled off the worst regular season collapse in baseball history, caused your manager to leave, is in the midst of losing its General Manager and has just been outed as a bunch of entitled prima donnas who purposely blew off their manager at crunch time and you decide to react to all of this by fanning the flames this way?

This bothers me more than what the front office is purportedly doing.  We’ve come to expect the front office to leak stories about whichever team member is leaving the fold.  It’s lousy (and regardless of all the media pinning this solely on Larry Lucchino, I’m not convinced there aren’t some players who contributed to this mess) but it really shouldn’t come as a surprise.  The fallout is what I find more interesting and, in some cases, distressing.

Pedroia was asked by Glenn Ordway why he was the only player to come out in support of Tito.  I had the same question.  Pedroia’s response was a muddled reaction of both saying he couldn’t speak for other players and saying that many of the other players don’t like to speak to the media the way he does.  I give Pedroia credit for not only protecting his manager but his teammates as well.  We’ve come to a point where someone needs to stop the bleeding so the team can heal and there should be more than just one player out there trying to do so.

One of the player’s being criticized, Jon Lester, has kept alarmingly quiet.  Much was made of the relationship between he and Tito, at least from Francona’s side.  Terry often mentioned he felt a father/son-like relationship with Lester yet here we find Lester was part of a clique that seemed to help run Tito out (whether it was intentional is up for debate) and now that he’s left the team and is having his name dragged through the mud, Lester is silent.  It’s disappointing and, in my opinion, telling of what kind of person he is.  Sadly, I think we’re finding out what kind of people many on this team are and, for me, they aren’t people I like very much.

Dustin Pedroia spoke with WEEI from Cabo today…yet no one else could find the time to speak up for their manager (or, for that matter, their team)?  And the one other player who DOES decide to speak out just whines about all the drama and throws out a thinly veiled threat to sign with the Yankees?  I feel like, come April, if there are a handful of players on this team that I’m still actively caring about, it’ll be amazing…yet I’ll still be here.

I’m a Red Sox fan.  For better or worse this is my chosen lot in life.  I can remember times when we didn’t like the owners, didn’t like the GM and didn’t like many of the players yet we still rooted for the team.  And that was before the team had two recent World Championships in their back pocket.

So come Truck Day, I will be at Fenway to show my support for the hometown team.  Ultimately, I will refuse to let this crap deny me the opportunity to enjoy the sport and team I love.

I so look forward to the time when we can all be joined in our hatred of the Boston sports media instead of focusing our anger on the team.  Someday.  Someday.

October 13, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tito on our Televisions

I did not stay up for the entire Tigers/Rangers game last night.  I tried to hang in but fell asleep just after they came back from the rain delay.  I think the fact that I had no deeply vested interest in which team won (or lost) helped my brain make the decision to shut down before the completion of the game.

I will say that I enjoyed Terry Francona on the broadcast.  In the first inning I thought maybe he was shying away from the microphone but as the game went on I realized that he was just letting there be some moments in the game where you didn’t have to fill them with mindless chatter.  I found Tito funny and interesting and informative.  Three things I haven’t said about Tim McCarver in over a decade. So there’s that.

Seeing Tito on Fox last night, though, was the final action that made me have to accept the fact that he’s really gone from Boston.  And that really hurts.

I was surprised this morning to find an article written about Tito that…well, let’s just say it isn’t very flattering.  Bob Raissman calls Fox’s hiring Tito an “insult to fans”, a “bad idea”, proof that Fox doesn’t care about it’s baseball audience and a “disaster waiting to happen”. Note, this was written before even the pregame show began last night.

I find it amusing that Raissman’s criticisms of Fox could really apply to Tim McCarver as well.  Heck, even New York baseball fans (in the comments section of the Raissman piece) praise Tito.  It wasn’t a disaster, it wasn’t an insult and most people seemed to enjoy the fresh perspective.  Maybe Raissman was hoping to get the call himself?

More Tito tonight and then…well, then we’re on our own.  I’m not looking forward to a Tito-free baseball existence.

October 9, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | | 2 Comments

More Tito Talk

Yesterday I broke my own rule about not listening to WEEI in order to listen to Terry Francona on The Big Show. Holy cow this was a bad decision for me. Not because  the repetitive nature of the questions and Glenn Ordway’s obvious disappointment in Tito’s lack of dishing dirt made me want to smash my computer into a million pieces (which it did) but because listening to Tito be so respectful and generous in the way he spoke not only of the players, but the owners and Theo Epstein as well made me realize AGAIN that we’re losing not only the best manger the team has ever hired but a genuinely decent person as well.

Even though he admitted that the owners never made the offer to pick up his option, he called his leaving the team “mutual” and talked about the respect he has and will always have for them.  (He also said had they picked up the option he wouldn’t have left the team.)  He refused to throw any of his players under the bus but did admit that “There was an attitude toward our team that distressed me” from some of the players who were supposed to be sitting on the bench supporting the rest of the team and weren’t.  Things weren’t ideal this season and Tito blamed himself more than anyone else.  He didn’t sound like he was happy he was leaving but he wasn’t about to feed the rumor mill for the sake of WEEI’s ratings either.

What I got out of this interview was simple, Terry Francona is an honorable man.  He’ll never help support the media/fan frenzy and sell out the team where he made his name and still holds loyalties even though they aren’t paying him any more…and the team let him leave.  The players did with their actions (or in the case of some, IMO, their INaction) and the owners did the same.

Tito aside, it’s taken me a few days to realize that I think I’m pretty much just mad at everyone right now and it’s tough to write about them when I’m feeling this way.  I know that my feelings will change (or at least lessen) by the time Truck Day rolls around (that’s what I’m hoping anyway) but for now the wound is still raw.  I’m both happy and upset that Tito gave this interview…happy to hear from him and realize he is the person we thought he was and upset because being reminded of what we’re losing, plainly put, sucks.

So that’s where my mind is right now.

As an aside, I’l be doing some daily, non-blog writing at Examiner.com as well as keeping the blog going here.  Writing over there is helping me be a bit more objective right now…I can pretend to be unaffected by the goings on of the team right now.  I have two pieces up right now (here and here) and you can find them future pieces listed on my profile page.

Rob Bradford tweeted this morning that Larry Luchhino and John Henry will be on WEEI Friday between 8-9am…I don’t want to listen to D&C for an hour just to hear what they have to say but I suppose I’ll be compelled to listen to maybe finish this chapter in Red Sox history.

October 6, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , | 1 Comment

So this happened…

I'll miss you Tito...and your pullovers too! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

I’ve avoided this long enough, eh?

I’m still stunned, I think, because I haven’t had any kind of major emotional reaction to the news about Terry Francona.  I didn’t cry or yell or even gasp when I heard the news.  Yesterday was a day I had nothing planned so I ended up sitting in front of my computer and the television all day, literally from before 8 in the morning to well after 8 in the evening, reading and watching speculation, and waiting for confirmation. As much as I wanted it to not be true (and was so hoping that the members of the Boston sports media would all end up with egg on their faces), deep down, as it was all unfolding, I knew it was going to be true. I knew by day’s end Terry Francona would no longer be the manager of the Boston Red Sox.

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October 1, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , | 1 Comment