Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Same Old Red Sox: Bullies and Cowards

When you're a Yankee Fan, you tend to not like the Boston Red Sox.  It's fine to like Boston as a City, or Massachusetts as a State, or New England as a region.  It's fine to appreciate the local cuisine, museums, historical sites, politicians.  It's even all right to spend a summer weekend at Mystic, Newport, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, or Old Orchard Beach.

But like the Red Sox? Oh not.  One does not simply live in the New York Tri-State Area and like the Boston Red Sox.  It is folly.

The Red Sox are bullies.  And, like all bullies, they are cowards.

No player was more indicative of this than Pedro Martinez.  We still don't know whether or not he used steroids, but he did hit batters, on purpose, and with the purpose of injuring them, when he was good enough to not do so.

Nothing in sports pisses me off more than a player who is good enough to NOT be dirty, but is anyway.  This is why I would forgive a player who briefly used a no-no substance to rehab from an injury (say, Andy Pettitte), but not one who did it to gain an unfair advantage (say, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and, apparently, Alex Rodriguez).

Well, one thing pisses me off more: When Red Sox fans chant "Steroids!" at A-Rod, when they know goddamned well that, if David Ortiz (who DID need steroids to become a great slugger) and Manny Ramirez (who DIDN'T and is thus more offending) hadn't taken the damn things, they'd still be looking for their first World Championship since 1918.  And that's just the 2 we know about.  When do we find out what other 2003-11 Red Sox were juicing? When Bud Selig dies? When ESPN gets a new editorial director? When the New York Times reminds the Boston Globe who owns them?

Speaking of the Boston Globe, an interesting little tidbit appeared in the column of legendary Sox observer/expert Dan Shaughnessy today.  Apparently, the party line on their awful 2012 season is that it was the fault of manager Bobby Valentine.  The author of the book The Curse of the Bambino, and the popularizer of that myth, says:

Alfredo Aceves pulls a nutty? Bobby was too easy on him last year. New relay drills? They have to fix what Bobby broke. If anyone gets into a fender-bender on Route 41, it’s probably Bobby Valentine’s fault.
David Ortiz kick-started the Bobby bashing last week (“Guys were not comfortable with the manager”) and soon was joined by Daniel Bard, who said he was more comfortable with “ ...having a guy who I feel like I can trust.” ...
Everyone here talked about how much “different” it was from the Terry Francona camps. Now we have the John Farrell Way and that is going to make everything better.
“I hope it’s new and better and different because that’s what a new year brings, especially in spring training,’’ said Valentine. “Spring is eternal. Let’s let it grow . . . I don’t think when I went in there last year I was casting any blame on the prior regime. I didn’t think that I was saying, ‘Well we’ll do it differently because it’s better.’ ’’
He certainly offended Ortiz.  It was Papi who ignited the Blame Bobby campaign down here...  To be honest with you, I ran out of patience last year and I’m a player,’’ said Ortiz. “So I can imagine the fans, where they’re at. A lot of players had a lot of issues with our manager last year. An organization is like the human body. If the head is right, the body is going to function right. But if the head is messed up, then the body is going to be all over the place. And that was part of our situation last year.
“Guys were not comfortable with the manager we had. Guys were struggling.’’
This was no random rip... A lot of the Bobby rips are presented as praise for Farrell. Andrew Miller told the Globe’s Peter Abraham that “some of the most important guys in this room [Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz, Jon Lester] have a personal connection to [Farrell] and they respect him. That’s a big difference.’’
Clay Buchholz has been singing the same song. Lester didn’t take the bait, but we all know he was done with Bobby after Valentine left Lester on the mound to take a beating at the hands of the Blue Jays July 22. Lester was left in to throw 94 pitches in four innings and he allowed 11 earned runs, nine hits, and walked five. The Sox were pounded, 15-7.
Will Middlebrooks said Farrell “knows how to handle this city. He knows how to handle the media, knows how to handle the characters and personalities that are here.’’
Middlebrooks, of course, was at the epicenter of a famous Bobby Moment when Sox players overheard the manager say, “Nice inning, Will,’’ after Middlebrooks butchered a couple of balls at third base. Valentine delivered news of that controversy on the radio, then later claimed the whole thing was fabricated by the media...
Bottom line: Everything was Bobby’s fault.
David Ortiz wants "to be honest with you." Right, and he is also thin.  Big fat lying cheating bastard.
There are plenty of people who could be blamed for the Red Sox' 2011 collapse and their 2012 mediocrity.
After all, Valentine didn't hire himself.  When he was hired, I quickly wrote a post about how a Boston V Party was a bad idea.  I said that Bobby V was popular in New York because he'd played there, the media already knew him and liked him, and that he'd get eaten alive by the Boston media.  I was right, just as, in the opposite direction, if Terry Collins gets fired as Met manager and Valentine's predecessor, Terry Francona, were not now the manager of the Cleveland Indians, Francona would make a terrible mistake taking the Flushing post.
Somebody had to have hired this bad manager.  That was owner John Henry and general manager Ben Cherington.
Francona also bears some responsibility, as he made some managerial decisions that backfired in 2011, helping to set up 2012.  Cherington's predecessor, Theo Epstein, bears some responsibility, for bringing in the players who helped forge the disaster, including Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and John Lackey.  And, yes, the players bear some responsibility.
And let's not forget the New England media: Like that part of the national media that covers politics, they are not so much bound by ideology -- the media is NOT "liberal" -- as by the need for a story.  "Dog bites man" is not news.  "Dog bites man, who happens to be dating a Kardashian sister, and they both make a scene as a result," now THAT is news!
"Red Sox players are happy"? Actually, that MIGHT fall into the category of "'Man bites dog,' now THAT is news!
But for the Sox players to blame Valentine is just plain cowardly.  They're picking on a man when he's not only down, but not around to defend himself.
These people are moral slugs.  If Ted Williams were alive and in his pomp, he'd smack them.
My experience watching British soccer may have just made me the first observer of American sports to ever use the expression "in his pomp" (essentially, in his prime) to describe the Splendid Splinter.
Look, as a  Yankee Fan, who hates the Mets AND the Red Sox, I have no love for Bobby Valentine.  I think he's a self-centered, self-righteous fool who isn't a very good manager.
But he doesn't deserve to be blamed for the Red Sox' bad season -- especially by the players who, much more than he did, made the season bad.
There's an old expression: "You can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit." Well, there's a lot of talent on the Red Sox.  They're not chicken shit -- two words, meaning "bad." Nor "horseshit" -- one word, meaning bad.
They are, however, chickenshit -- one word, usually shortened to just "chicken," meaning "cowardly." And full of bullshit -- one word, meaning "lies."
It's okay for a Yankee Fan to like Boston, it's people, even Fenway Park.
But let us not have any respect for the Red Sox -- as players, or as an organization -- until they start earning it.

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