Well, only a little under 48 hours more of baseball withdrawal to go through before the Real Deal begins. A night without baseball on TV is giving me the opportunity to realize that Bruce Springsteen was overly optimistic back in the day when he lamented “57 Channels and nothing on” … it’s more like 200 channels and nothing on. Sort of reminds you of Theo Epstein’s current team, the Red sox, or his soon-to-be team, the even more under-acheiving Cubbies: lots of potential, but not much to celebrate in real life.
Richard Griffin wrote an excellent piece in this weekend’s toronto Starabout the trainwreck that is the Boston Red Sox, 2011 edition, and how Terry Francona showed more class than his players or bosses while he was being thrown under the bus for the shortcomings of his apparently lazy and self-absorbed bickering players and monied but short-on-analysis GM. As Griffin observed, Francona will land on his feet , “but I’m not so sure about the Red sox.” Francona injured his knee when playing, back in the day, and perhaps needs pain meds to fucntion day to day. Nothing he did during september screamed “incompetent” or “stoned thinking”. Hardly his fault Carl crawford couldn’t catch easy fly balls or hit his weight; that John lackey’s pitching has devolved from “angelic” to “sux” since his joining Boston or that Clay Bucholz didn’t pick up a baseball in the last couple of months of the season. I hope the so-called Obnoxious Nation … ooops, I think they like to call themselves “Red Sox Nation” remember that in the eight years at the helm, all Francona did was snag two World Series… and recall that in the past lifetime or two, those things were ‘curse’dly scarce around Boston.
It does highlight a few things though. Many people bash the Yankees, and poo-poo the managing down coast from Fenway, but I’ve often thought that joe Girardi , and before him Joe Torre deserved a lot of respect for the job they’ve done. Managing a clubhouse with 25 multi-millionaires with egos the size of the statue of Liberty and keep them focussed must be quite a task. Francona’s finding that out; even small-budget Toronto had their issues in the last decade when when the likes of epic talents such as Shea Hillenbrand revolted ; as a few years later a few others such as short-term Jay Scott Rolen and other aging under-producers took on Cito Gaston.
In the end, Boston will be alright. Their fanbase is unshakeable and money will win over some talents again. But in the short-term, I’d wonder about the quality of talent the Sox will lure. With all the back and forth and name-calling and accusations, one would wonder why any team-oriented, hard-working player looking to win would opt to play in that organization. Slackers who prefer drinking and playing video games to working out and supporting their teammates might have Fenway Park programmed into their ferrari GPS’.
It does mean that Alex anthopolous deserves some praise when he has consistently stated that one of his goals is to build a team of good personalities, guys who will work as a team and as the saying goes, worry about the name on the front of the shirt more than the one on the back. He may have messed up once or twice, but at least he’s understanding something apparently some of his cohorts with more money have failed to. The intangibles can sometimes outweigh the tangibles.
Should be a good World Series. Two teams with hitting and on a roll. I imagine a lot of toronto fans will be going for St Louis, given the contingent of former blue Jays so often noted in American broadcasts. (kudos to the Fox crew for calling the Rasmus trade “highway robbery” for St louis! Is there anyone left in Canada who’d prefer Rasmus on the roster to Rzepcynski, Frasor—who went to Chicago in the same deal- and dotel? Of the latter, Cards’ Nick Punto told Yahoo sports, “there’s no way we’re here today without Dotel.”) But I’ll be pulling for Texas. Not only because my favourite baseball friend resides in the Lone Star State and is an R’s fan, but because they’ve simply never won it before. I like Texas’ hitting , but the starting pitching does concern me a bit. However, once you get beyond Chris Carpenter (former blue Jay Chris Carpenter!) the Cardinals starters aren’t anything to write home about… maybe run home after they toss a wild pitch or walk your batter with the bases loaded, but not write home about… so I’d call that aspect a near-wash. Cards home advantage will help them, perhaps especially with the weather getting cold in the midwest, something Rangers won’t be very used to, but my call is still: Texas in six.