RIP Boston Red Sox™

Today brings to a merciful end the 2012 experiment of the hapless, useless organization known as the Boston Red Sox.

Darth Vader Steinbrenner-owned Yankees can say of Obi-One Henry Group, “Now their failure is complete.”

The Red Sox are an organization that has shown zero fundamental change from the glorious days of Yawkee Ownership. Red Sox culture: front office allows the clubhouse to run the show; the clubhouse, manager allows the players to run the show. The fans do not hold the correct people accountable at the correct time and they are too easily influenced by the media. The media is largely focused on the wrong priorities. The only journalists I’ve really heard focus on the correct issues at the correct time in the right way – articulate, intelligent, at the right volume and tone – are on Sports Hub 98.5, particularly Felger and Mazz. Add to that the writing of Tony Mazz in the Globe and anything that Peter Gammons writes, although without recalling exactly all this season’s content I feel Gammons can tend towards more sympathy and subjective p.o.v. instead of what I personally prefer – impartial, emotionally detached analysis. But, hey, that’s just me.

We are the fan base. We deserve better. The fans do not know how to revere the players when they are our heroes and hold them accountable instead of letting them off the hook as a whole. We pick at certain personalities and relentlessly witch hunt in the truest New England puritanical tradition. The media does not know how to allow players to be human and make mistakes ( like growing old or not be perfect with their replies to questions). I’m not talking about incidents like Pedroia saying “that’s not how we do things in Boston,” because that was exactly what the fans and the media needed to wake the F up and actually understand how poorly the organization flows from the top down. Equally, the vilifying of Beckett, while a tad excessive, was necessary like the way the media jumped on a soured Garciaparra c. 2004. I’m talking about the “what have you done for me lately?” mentality that turns on heroes in Boston instead of valuing them especially at the end of their time in Boston. Larry Bird was, at the end, sort of mistreated for being injured and growing old. I wonder when Tom Brady is out of gas if the media will recall just how important Tom Brady has been to New England folklore before they trash him and then attempt to kiss and make up.

These are, of course, not Red Sox relevant or Yawkee Way examples. I do wonder why no one has really along the way taken Theo Epstein to task more rigorously and more precisely on his “We aim to be competitive year-in-year-out to vie for World Series.” That is a rough quote but it is close enough. Because, until Theo started to head for the door, no one said “Hey, wait. What the hell is going on?” Yes, we picked apart certain transactions like the über-weakness perennially at shortstop. But, what about the fact that the team never truly dug in for the division and missed the playoffs a few times and did not actually compete year-in-year-out. With the exception of last year’s grand collapse, the prior missed playoff years were given passes as “tough, injury-riddled years.” Meanwhile, the Yankees make the playoffs year after year. 12 out of 15 years Division Champs if they win tonight!

This year, the team has no intrinsic self-respect or self-worth to stand up and make a stand, at least in spirit, to ruin the Yankees post-season bid. Instead, like the entire 2012 baseball campaign, the Red Sox have rolled over and played dead. Embarrassing. I can never imagine the current Patriots, Celtics or Bruins cultures doing the same.

Nothing has changed in my lifetime except for a couple of rings. Big deal. Even in all these years since 2003, the organization has NEVER EVER valued winning the AL EAST. I hold the ownership accountable and this group has been possessed by the Yawkee way instead of aspiring to the Yankee way.

The ownership has zero accountability to anyone and zero loyalty. The one manager who clearly was responsible for something to help win two World Series in three years was stabbed in the back on the way out.

And, further, the MLBPA or whatever the Players’ Union is has way too much power. The Red Sox in the last several years have become an overpriced rehab center, enabled by the contracts at the Major League level. Baseball players have no business as a whole making obscene amounts of guaranteed dollars. This union is an embarrassment to professional labor unions and resembles public unions that, say, expect 100% publicly funded benefits and pension and dare to strike in the midst of a winter freeze (See NYC MTA Local c. 2005, December)

The Boston Red Sox of 2012 exemplify across the board all that is wrong in American professional sports.

I, for one, am thrilled that the Baltimore Orioles stepped up to make the dream of what true team competition is all about, what true dignity and honor in the game should be.

I hope the Orioles win this year’s World Series! If not, I’m rooting for Texas, a tradition in excellence now for several years under management and coaches. The Nationals, The A’s, the Giants and yes, even the Evil Empire, all exemplify what baseball and sports ought be. The Red Sox never truly have and may never in my lifetime. If we ever have a top-down approach with media and fans who come together in a way that both honors, roots for and holds accountable our professional baseball team, I’d be stunned. But, it starts with the ownership. The Patriots and Celtics have shown us that in recent years. The Bruins got the memo. Maybe it was lost on the Red Sox brass somewhere between Hollywood and Liverpool.

(this material is copyrighted under US ™ © laws)

-The Bloozah™ on Twitter is coming. Stay tooned!


The Good Ship Lollypop

On April 12, 1912 Fenway Park opened its gates. On April 15, 1912. The Titanic sank.

Apparently, this week Terry Francona is not invited to the great celebrations taking place at Fenway 100. Hmmm. Really???

In 2012, a sort of ironic reversal of fortune has taken place. The Costa Concordia sank on January 14, 2012. While we cannot locate any data to support a major event three days later for the Boston Red Sox, truth be told their ship has been slowly sinking ever since Captain Francona was run aground or run out of town as it were by that invisible iceberg off the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Boston “Hahbah,” an iceberg purportedly named Lucchino. 

 A man of great character, sensitivity and deft political instincts on how to navigate the perilous waters of Boston sports, Francona was callously iced off by an “unnamed source,” a leak on his alleged and unsubstantiated *drug problems* as a “thank you, F U and don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out,” even after Francona had graciously sought higher ground to partake in his own departure from Port Fenway. Iceberg Lucchino is allegedly to blame, which in turn has now inalterably damaged the HMS Henry for good. A once proud, seemingly impenetrable luxury liner that aims to be a winner is, in all truth, no different than the Yawkee Group ownership of yore save for two World Series pennants. Fact.

The Boston media – mostly from what I’ve listened to via the incomparable Big Show, et al at WEEI Sports Network and read on The Globe and Herald columns – have been chumming the waters worse than Chief Brody and Quint ever did off the Amity shores. With a piranha-like frenzy, on-air and on-paper personalities excoriate, pillory and focus all their “Francover” grumpiness on new Skipper Bobby Valentine.

But, don’t blame our media. Their instinct to teem our waters for blood is really not their fault. They can’t help it. None of us can. See, we are all bred out of the puritanical madness that came to our shores in 1612. 1612?  Whatever. The point is, like the days of Hawthorne, Lizzy Borden and Salem, MA before, witch-hunts are part of Boston culture, and by extension its media. I ought to know as I love to witch hunt almost by my marrow’s instinct – at everything I deem morally, politically and socially incorrect.  Maybe the birthplace of blogging is Beantown?

In typical exhaustive Bostonian, the media is like a nosy neighbor more than a reporter. These days they microscopically sift, examine, dissect, debate and flay Bobby V’s every move. CSI Boston. They’re already gunning for him, beginning in earnest the campaign to chase him out of town in a daily grind, a biased manner unbecoming a world-class city but every bit Bostonian. You don’t want to play the game our way by our rules? You are dead to us. Well, Francona more than learned. He beat them at the game. He savvily sped up his Boston sports media learning curve from day one and played the game in a genuine manner. He was neither smarmy nor manipulative. He parried in a way that genuinely respected and protected his players on the one side and respected and created great relationships with the media on the other hand.

In all fairness to the scrutiny of Bobby Valentine, the media is merely our voice, a populist bullhorn howling in the wind at the loss of our great leader and comrade-in-arms, Tito. Tito is a nickname befitting a larger than life person whose image should color banners on every light post down Landsdown St. while legions of adoring fans soldier forth in goose-stepping-time with salutes to our Great Brother Tito, adorned in mirror-shades and full-regalia uniform waving munificently from the grand stands to us, the unwashed rabble, the hungry masses thirsty for more victories. With his departure, we were and are still the Lost Children, suddenly out in a high plains drift of tumbleweed and longing for the Idiotic good ‘ol days.

What the hell just happened we asked at the end of 2011? To this day, many of us may still try to fathom just what the hell happened as we attempt to turn the page to present day. Clearly, we do so with a slight hindsight strain in our face, a tinge of false bravado, hope and cheer even as we were ‘swift boated’ by the 2011 season unraveling so fast and the loss of Francona, if not fresh, still painful. Still. I believe. I mean, I see him on ESPN BBTN and wish he were still in a Red Sox uniform no matter how much I like Bobby V. and root for him. But, see, I don’t root for Bobby V. or for the Red Sox. I find myself actively rooting against them. I am the turncoat. It’s not personal. It’s business. It’s the manner in which the organization has conducted business for some time.

In 2012 we ride in the wake of an absurd Beergate and Lost Season #2, 2011. Lost Season #1, 2010, had been chalked up as a loss for reasons that this writer personally still doesn’t apprehend – oh, yeah. It was all about strength and conditioning, stupid. The prior two seasons have both been sunk the way that old school Red Sox seasons used to go – waning, swooning in the dog days of summer with a quilt of patchwork reasons none of which every sink in to a level of acceptance and letting go. I believe those glaring errors and miscues linger bitterly for all of us, borne out of frustration built on the back of those generations of losing. Maybe it’s just The Bloozah content in glass-half-empty mentality. But, I think when we all see highly paid athletes underachieve, under-perform and under value the weight of the agreed upon contract, we see a fleecing. They took the money. Where’s our return?

I’m personally tired of the reasons and the excuses. We pay high-priced tickets, we have a high-priced payroll and we pay high-end concessions beyond the pizza, pretzels, beer in the stand and chicken in the bowels of that grand ol’ ballpark, Fenway. We lose collectively when our team doesn’t live up to our expectations as we head into a long dark winter wondering about what might have been. Our team should help us distract from our own shortcomings not mirror or highlight them. It’s one thing if they lose valiantly but when they lose in the way this organization has been falling short for a long time, enough is enough.

Red Sox v.2010 was all about athletes who appeared to collectively be unable to remain physically conditioned and, perhaps, mentally tough down the stretch. From a fan’s point of view, it is hard to say. I could, admittedly, never live the life of a professional athlete. Yet, this is partly my point and partly my gripe with MLBPA. The MLB Players Association is truly a powerful union that undermines what working class, average union workers in the United States of America strive for: worker protections. You have a union that has the power to gain huge sums of guaranteed monies for its workers on the public dole – merchandise, tickets, TV and Internet subscriptions. When politicians try to gut public unions and collective bargaining, perhaps they ought first look at their own entitlements of taxpayer-funded pensions and health care. Next, they ought look at ‘private’ unions such as what the MLBPA represents: Gross excess and ultimate untouchable unaccountable power. But, alas I digress. I really digress. Sorry.

Fine. Ok. The Red Sox v.2010 did suffer a string of freak injuries in almost domino-like fashion. Still, with a bench 25 deep they fought valiantly to the bitter and highly worthy end. Didn’t they win something like 90 games to make it to third place? V.2011, touted as and by all accounts a clearly superior team, fared worse. They finished third by trending downward rather than clawing to the top in the manner that v.2010 attempted. Red Sox v.2011 no matter how it is spun and served up to us was entitled, lazy and a team bent on self-destruction. No. Annihilation.

At the end of the 2011 season, in the midst of the beer and chicken washout, you had a now-former General Manager overripe for departure jump ship for the Lakes country of Chicago. The Red Sox, trying to sift through the rubble by focusing on the ‘rebuilding’ a.k.a. v.2012, cleaned house. They let Theo off-the-hook for some of the mess he created. He fled to the Cubs. We received a pathetic excuse of a “deal” in return: a third-tier player who is now injured. Current Red Sox ownership is hands-off and more interested in new ventures like Liverpool s with the smoke and mirrors of trivial stuff like  why Bobby V. should appears on a weekly radio show in New York and whether or not he should. Suggestion: focus that energy on holding our team accountable.

In 2012 you have a team that is apparently determined to underachieve for the third year in a row. You have one piece of the unholy triumvirate in Larry Lucchino perhaps undermining his new General Manager, Ben Cherington. You have a hall-of-famer closer allowed to depart and the replacement injured the day before the season opened. (With Werner a film guy are we inking The Curse 2?) You have pitchers with bloated, yes bloated, contracts whose monies are guaranteed even as their faulty strength and conditioning, their lack of mental toughness and their commitment to what they signed up for – being larger than life and playing to the level of the contract they demanded – completely lack-ey-ing.

Who, in all of this…who is the real loser? Who is the BLOOZAH? I am. You are. We, the better-deserving fans are made fools of as more gritty, determined and respectable organizations evolve. The Red Sox are a ship that is sinking fast, going Back to the Future looking for ways to self-destruct as only The Yawkees knew how to a few generations ago.

Yankee. Yawkee. The difference of one consonant is the margin between winning and losing, between rejecting loss and accepting defeat, between classiness and…

Well, I think it’s well beyond time the good denizens of Boston Red Sox Nation, in the manner only Peter Finch’s Howard Beale could urge, should go to our windows, open them up and scream down Boylston, Beacon and all points around the six-state region “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

That’s it. I want you to write John Henry. I want you to write Tom Werner. I want you to go to your windows, open them up and….eh. Get some fresh air. You’ve had enough hot air here for one day.

Then, again, the ship is either sinking fast or setting sail. Warning. Icebergs ahead.