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!
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.
I think I wanted to be mad at him. On the surface, he’s bolting just as the team is under fire from all angles. The Boston sports media is destroying them, fans are screaming about how embarrassed they are by the team and the players, for a while, seemed to be having a daily “Who can sound like a bigger jackass” competition. Bailing on the team he’s been with for nine years seems like taking the easy way out.
But then I think about everything that happened prior to the September collapse. This was a good, strong team in spite of some injuries hitting them hard. If not for their failings in September, we might be watching them beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series…again. So even though emotionally I want to say “Theo’s leaving us in shambles!”, it’s not really how I feel.
So it’s official. Theo Epstein is the new President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. The announcement came around 10pm last night and the press conferences from the Cubs and Red Sox will come on Tuesday, the next off-day for the World Series. I thought I’d feel different than I do.
I thought I’d be fine with Theo moving on, and part of me is. Part of me believes that if the team is going to make changes this time why not go whole hog? Although I suppose it could be argued that moving from Theo Epstein to Ben Cherington (a move that hasn’t been made official yet) isn’t that huge a change. I feel some comfort in having Cherington in there….like a small piece of Theo is still around I guess…but I woke up this morning to discover that I was a little sad about Theo going. I feel like my younger brother just left home and I know he won’t be calling, not even on Sundays or holidays.
There will never be a way to fully describe how the Red Sox victory in 2004 changed my life. Some call it hyperbole, but it truly did (and there are many folks who understand because it changed their lives too). 2007 was the cherry on that sundae and for those two things I don’t think there will ever be enough ways to truly thank Theo…but I do. I thank Theo Epstein with all my heart for helping bring this area some joy and some peace.
So I’m okay with him moving on but not as okay as I thought I was…if that makes any sense. I wish him happiness in Chicago but not luck. And that has nothing to do with him. I just can’t wish luck to a team whose fan base did what the Cubs fans did to Steve Bartman. I keep tweeting about it and I wrote about it over the summer, but the film Catching Hell has forever tainted how I feel about the Cubs fans and I wish them another 100 years of losing.
There is also a part of me not too happy that Theo is bailing on the team with a year on his contract and leaving us with the mess that he is leaving us with…but I suppose in a post written to say “thank you” and “goodbye” I shouldn’t dwell on that too much. We have a good four months to flesh that one out.
Ultimately, my strongest emotion right now is relief. I feel like once they get a general manager in there they’re that much closer to getting a manager and that will bring us closer to moving the hell on. Tuesday can’t come soon enough.
For the love of all that is good in the world could we just get some closure in the Theo Epstein saga?
I’m begging here.
I didn’t think anything would be worse than the “They’re close to a deal….they aren’t close to a deal” stories coming out every ten minutes…but now we have the “They’re close to announcing the deal…they aren’t anywhere near announcing the deal” and I just sit here and shake my head. Do it, don’t do it…at this point I couldn’t care less I just want the Red Sox to be able to move on. With or without Theo, at this point it makes no nevermind to me. Just freaking do it.
Although I will say this, the one aspect of this that I’m enjoying is how, seemingly, the Red Sox aren’t rolling over for the Cubs. Theo is the one who is breaking his contract, the Cubs are the team getting one of the best General Managers in baseball, so the Red Sox absolutely deserve something more than a little cash or a few throwaway players. There is a part of me, though, that will just be happy for it to be all over, regardless of what the Red Sox get for Theo. (But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d consider it well worth it all if somehow John Lackey is pitching somewhere that isn’t Fenway Park.)
In a move I didn’t think possible, the Boston Red Sox saga became even more surreal yesterday when Principal Owner John Henry showed up at the 98.5 The Sports Hub (or as WEEI called it “CBS Radio”) and responded to being asked why he was there with:
“Well, when you’re misleading the public, you should be challenged on some of the things you’re saying so I’m here to challenge some of the things you’ve been saying.”
And they were off.
I’ve listened to the interview twice now and read just about every local writer’s interpretation of it and yet I’m still not completely sure how I feel about it all.
Some thoughts in a not particularly well-formed presentation:
In an effort to make sure I was familiar with what I was going to write about, I read Bob Hohler’s piece in the Boston Globe today. I won’t link to it because it’s already getting so much buzz that I don’t need to contribute to their prosperity, but if you haven’t read it I reluctantly suggest you do if for no other reason than so you know what everyone else is talking about today.
None of it surprises me, not even the stuff about Tito. There have been rumblings about his private life for a while (although nothing related to pain killers as mentioned in Hohler’s piece) and it’s a common story in sports isn’t it? I can’t imagine anyone is surprised that Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester acted like entitled asses. It’s disappointing, though, that the Boston Globe writers on Twitter last night were teasing this story so excitedly. They knew it would trash Tito (Chad Finn defended it today by saying it didn’t trash him it made people have more sympathy for him) and the rest of it was rehashing rumors and fleshing them out but it was their big story and, dammit, they weren’t going to care that it reads like the chicks from Inside Track wrote it.
So here’s where I am: Rumors have Theo signing a five-year deal with the Chicago Cubs and I’m okay with that. Let him go. If even half of what is written in that piece is true (and I’m not arguing that any of it is false) bring in a new GM and a new manager and show these players that they need to earn their pay. I don’t think the team needs to be blown up but if they got rid of John Lackey and maybe even Josh Beckett I wouldn’t mind. Jon Lester, well, I’ve never kept my feelings about his attitude a secret but I wonder if his pals weren’t there he’d be less inclined to mess around?
I also have a sense of wanting the old guys gone. Wakefield, Varitek, maybe even Papi. While, again, I don’t think they need to completely clean house, this is going to be a new team with new leadership and I’m good with watching the team resurrect itself. Lots of people are worried about the team becoming what it was before the new ownership took over but, honestly, none of us saw Theo Epstein and Terry Francona being responsible for the first World Series championship in 86 years until game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. I’m not about to disregard what new blood could do for this team again just yet.
Things suck for the Red Sox and their fans right now…there’s no getting around it. But things have sucked before and we got through it. This time they suck with an ownership that cares about how bad it is and has the resources to change things. I’m annoyed today but a small part of me is looking forward to seeing what the team does to make us forget this God-awful fall.
If the rumors are true and Theo is going to Chicago for five years and $15 million, I wish him (and the Cubs) luck. I feel like we got Theo in his prime (much like Pedro Martinez) and don’t begrudge him wanting to move on. I’m a little cranky today, though, so while I wish luck, I don’t wish success. Maybe that’ll come at a later date. Today all I want is for them to get to working on that clean slate.
There are many who point to Theo and consider him overrated or just lucky. I am not one of those people. The man who had a giant hand in 2004 and 2007 will always get my respect. (Even when, as above, he dresses like an extra from a Nirvana video.)
I grew up in eras where the fans hated the General Manager. I grew up hearing my father yell “He has no idea what he’s doing!” in the face of ridiculous trades or free agents who weren’t signed. In 2004, the day Nomar Garciaparra was traded, my father watched Theo’s press conference and said “He looks like he’s sick about it. I sure hope he knows what he’s doing.” I don’t know why my father gave him the benefit of the doubt but he did. Most of us did and it worked out perfectly. (I also know the decisions of Dan Duquette played a large part in the ’04 championship. I also know he had 8 years to put together a World Series team and even with the likes of Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez, couldn’t do it.)
Theo isn’t like John Henry or Larry Luchhino or Tom Werner. He doesn’t try to connect with the fans on an emotional level. This used to bother me but, ultimately, I think it’s probably for the best. He doesn’t have the emotional attachments we all do to cloud his judgment and that has helped the team more than it has hurt it. Sure there have been some bad results, no one is perfect, but I think looking at the big picture the good outweighs the bad mightily.
So happy birthday to Theo Epstein. And thanks, again, for knowing what to do with John Henry’s money.
I’m giddy. Gid freaking dy.
Before signing off the Internet last night, I hit refresh on my Twitter feed and in an instant it was announced that the Red Sox had signed Carl Crawford. This announcement came a few hours after a reporter or two had tweeted that Theo left the meetings last night saying nothing big was in the works. Oh Theo, how I love it when you mess with the media.
For the second time this off-season, Theo and the trio totally blindsided the sports writers (and the fans) with a deal they never saw coming. I love that. Do I love the contract? I don’t. I’m not a big fan of long-term contracts. I worry about anyone over a lot of years. But with a Carl Crawford, I worry less about the bulk of the contract. If the Sox get five solid years out of his seven, I’m good with that. I will always have a hard time believing anyone is worth $142 million, but we don’t live in the real world with baseball we live in baseball’s world. The numbers are crazy but if the Red Sox can afford it and they’re giving it to the guy they want, I’m not going to fret about the cash that gets thrown at him. I dig Carl Crawford and I’m THRILLED he’s now (or soon to be) with the Red Sox. I genuinely believe we’re going to see really great things from him and now even MORE so I can’t wait until the 2011 season!
I already have an email in my inbox this morning from a Yankees fan telling me I can’t complain about the money that the Yankees spend anymore. In fairness to me, the money the Yankees spend isn’t high on my list of why I don’t like the Yankees. What I do say often is that I think you’re an idiot if you compete in the same division as the Yankees and have money to compete with them but don’t spend it. I don’t think every free agent on the market should get $20 million a year, but if you have the money to acquire a player who is good and will be a big help to your team, why not do it? Throwing this contract at Crawford isn’t equal to buying up every free agent available just because you can. This contract was a move to make the lineup more solid, strengthening your team, especially in your very tough division, while forcing the hand of your rival. Now, the Yankees have to make some blockbuster deal if they want to compete. This, in my mind, was a no-brainer.
I fear I’m being greedy by still hoping Cliff Lee doesn’t sign with the Yankees, but I can’t help it. I have to hold out hope that Cliff Lee has a soul and stays with Texas. Although I will admit to laughing out loud at the rumors that the Red Sox were the secret team who had offered Lee seven years…Theo is not messing around this off-season…well, he’s messing around but only with the Yankees and the sports writers. He’s stunned them all. No one, NO ONE thought the Red Sox would give anyone else a big contract after trading for Adrian Gonzalez. With AGon’s contract extension on the horizon, no one expected the Sox to back up the Brinks truck to another player. You think Theo Epstein is walking around his hotel room right now telling himself how amazing he is? He should be.
Now I’m reading fans and writers saying the Sox won’t pay for bullpen help now or they won’t look into picking up Russell Martin. If this teaches us anything, it should teach us that Theo Epstein has thrown away his playbook from years past. This hotstove season is far from over.
So many people, writers and fans both, questioned John Henry’s dedication to the Red Sox this coming season. People thought he’d be too occupied with his shiny new toy – the soccer team – to give any attention or money to the Red Sox. When the Adrian Gonzalez rumors were swirling, he was called cheap, the team was criticized for not giving long-term contracts, many people, including Taylor Twellman, formerly of the New England Revolution, were saying the Red Sox should be embarrassed by how they were acting.
All those people can go jump into an incredibly deep lake.
Welcome to Boston, Carl Crawford. It will be nice to not have to worry about you stealing on every single one of our pitchers for the next seven years.