Red Storm Rising

Boston Sucks!!! Boston Sucks!!!

Boston. We have arrived.

Just three short years after Theo Epstein began his reclamation project to tear down our beloved Idiots and build a better Bronx Bombers in Beantown, Theo has succeeded in infecting us with the madness of King George. Corporate culture has officially replaced clowns like Cabrera, Millar and Damon. Now we have drones like J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo approaching each at bat in the most officious (if not efficient) manner and the front office couldn’t be happier.

Ahhhh, those long, lost Idiots. A more retched hive of scum and villainy you’d be hard pressed to find outside of Mos Eisley or Chelsea. How a pack of JD swilling sad-sack losers ever managed to come back from an 0-3 deficit against the feared New York Yankees and proceed to sweep the Cardinals and carry home the first World Series trophy in 86 years, I’ll never know. Hey, Theo will tell ya’. You put enough monkeys in front of enough typewriters and let them pound away on the keyboards for enough decades and eventually you’ll get Pride and Prejudice. Or at the very least, Carpoolers.

Theo surveyed the landscape ahead and realized he had to make a quick decision – jettison these jokers (and their midget bowling buddies) and issue a mission statement that the time had come for a little ‘organizational restructuring’ or load up the bullpen with enough Boone’s Farm to drop Big Papi, let Youk grow his grill mullet (goatee is too French for these guys) and pitch Johnny Damon in that Cavemen show (Finally, a purpose for Tom Warner!!!).

The choice was clear. Theo picked the route of Gordon Gekko over Geico. Rather than reward star performances by the workman players on his team (from the Orlando Cabreras of then to the Mike Lowells of now) through a slightly inflated bump to their pay grade, he overvalued underperforming stars on other ball clubs. Thus O-Cab got the hook (and as payment for his services – he was able to leave town under cover of a clandestine whisper campaign that there was something more there (which the team would not cop to) that precipitated his dismissal) and derailments like Rent-a-Wreck (Edgar Renteria), JD Drew and Eric Gagne were courted with a mountain of cash and all the Rem-Dawgs they could eat. In short, like Steinbrenner, he was building his fantasy team at our expense.

Just so long as they all got a haircut.

Don’t believe me. All you had to do was listen closely to Tuesday night’s Fox telecast of the ALCS Game 4, where late in the 4th inning (just mere moments away from Boston’s patented Fifth Inning flame-out), a tweaked rendition of a familiar refrain grew loud enough to drown out ‘Bill’ McCarver’s breakdown of ‘Bill’ Wakefield’s knuckler.

Boston Sucks!!! Boston Sucks!!!

In the stands, Theo smiled. The project was complete. He was the proud owner of the neo-New York Yankees. The ribald refrain, co-opted from our own tired taunt of that hated Evil Empire, was just the icing on the cake – the punctuation on the point Theo has been laboring to make all these years. Animal House antics have no place in the boardroom – well, that is unless you need to doff the monkey suit in favor of gorilla garb in order to duck the press when you decide to run home to Momma’ when your little power play doesn’t take hold and Capo Lucchino calls you out as the overrated stats geek you truly are.

I apologize for the foul mood but Theo and his soulless band of ciphers have gotten to me. He’s not the boy genius the Red Sox-owned media would have you believe he is.

Matsuzaka. Drew. Gagne. Lugo. There it is. The Cleveland Indians payroll rolled up into four players and it’s these four vastly over-paid players who have conspired to rid me of any enjoyment and interest I have had in the ALCS. And all 4 are Theo’s darlings. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are two of the four reasons the Sox have made it this far. Somewhere Digital Dan is 101010101. And you can’t even counter the argument by tossing Beckett and Lowell at me as Beckett was signed when Theo was off playing Donkey Kong and Lowell was tossed in as a rider to Beckett’s contract. And rumor has it, Theo never approved of the Beckett deal. Lucky Larry and his acting-GM Craig Shipley inked the deal.

I guess you could argue Okajma but we all know he was only brought into the mix to provide Dice-K with a new best friend to go along with the personal chef, masseuse, trainer and ice sculptor offered to the Dice man in order to bring him to these shores. That Okey-Doke ended up being as good as he is, is one of those happy little accidents that Theo will likely take credit for. To quote Michael Scott, we’ll call it his “grand brainchild.”

The one compliment I can toss Theo’s way is his masterful handling of the farm system – although the fact that he dealt two hot prospects and a bucket of cash away for the privilege of carting off the Texas Rangers’ damaged goods in the guise of Gagne does temper that statement a bit. I guess Kason Gabbard should have thrown a few more meatballs and lowered his trade value. We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again. Why can’t we get guys like that? Suddenly, the 11th inning of a 6-6 ballgame doesn’t look so dicey when you have the G-Man ready from the stretch.

Admittedly, Theo has had luck with some other rookies. The problem is, the organization doesn’t want to use them. Red-hot Clay Buckholz was given a cold shower under the shady explanation that he needed rest for his tired arm. (If tired arm was rationale for benching pitchers, we’d be starting each member of The Dropkick Murphys during this ALCS. You win us the pennant and we’ll call that penance for Tessie!!!)

And now we have Rookie Sensation Jacoby Ellsbury riding pine while Coco Crisp plays the role of NL pitcher.

I’ll say that again and louder.


Ellsbury gives you the same – if maybe a slight dip – in defense as Crisp and what little defense drops, he overcompensates in offense and speed on the base paths. Yes, I know Coco is a speedy little devil as well but here lies a key difference, the use of the phrase base paths. See, in order to set the new land speed record along those lanes you actually need to get on base. So while Coco is wowing us with wind sprints in practice, Ellsbury is scoring from First on a Lugo dribbler down the left field line.

Ellsbury also has the offensive pop that Coco completely lacks. And he has high marks in that one stat that Theo and his fellow Bill James disciples covet most – a high OBP. In fact, Ellsbury reached base in 33 of the 35 games he appeared in. Those aren’t Starts. Appearances!!! Meaning, when he was called upon to pinch hit or pinch run or provide defense, he found a way to make a difference. Too bad he couldn’t pinch manage.

So when I hear Francona towing the company line, or more to the point, Theo’s line (let’s be clear about this – there is a division in that organization between the offices of Baseball and Business) – anyway, when I hear Francona on WEEI’s Dale and Holley show proclaiming that he will likely stick with Drew and not start Ellsbury because “we’ve worked all season to get our line-up back to the order in which we originally envisioned it and I’m not about to mix that up now”, it drives me crazy.

Sure you plan for things, but I would think in of all places, the game of baseball, a manager would realize that sometimes you’re sitting on fast ball and life throws you a curve. The current order that you worked all season to put in place is not working. Your lead-off batter has reverted back to April and is pressing. #2 is adequate, although he has come through with big hits in non-key spots. 3 through 5 is Aces. And the rest are the Kansas City Royals’ farm system.

What more is he waiting for? On the topic of dropping Pedroia from the lead-off spot, Tito said, “He had a real tough April but we were patient and he got it together and came through big through the rest of the season. I know I can be accused of being loyal to a fault but sometimes you have to have patience.”

A must win – do or die game – is probably the one time in your life where the last thing you need is a little patience. Forget your Guns and Roses. We need Bombs and Manny’s HR Poses. Blow it up. Mix it up. Toss it up. Drop Pedroia. Boot Drew. Slot in Ellsbury. The very worse thing that can happen is you lose the game but you took a chance of calling an audible when the team needed it most. Our town has a long, sad history of stubborn managers whose fierce loyalty led them to one place only – the unemployment line. The worse case scenario here, if Ellsbury comes up blank, ya’ still have Drew or Coco on the bench.

Those are the reasons why I’ve opted to sit out tonight’s Game 5, aside from some sneak peaks at the score. Yes, it’s a Beckett performance, and the guy has come as advertised but I’m done screaming at my TV. I love the damned thing too much.

That’s more than I can say for my beloved Boston Yankees.

Comments now closed (6)

  • Let the record show I am a hypocrite. Not more than 3 hours after posting this and I am sucked right back in.

    I keep trying to get out… but they keep pulling me in.

  • Yeah, it was a good game. But having heard a rant on the car radio this morning, it does seem that everyone’s on the same page about Theo–he’s no wunderkind.

  • Well, he’s no wunderkind, but he’s not bad either. Every GM makes mistakes and every GM gets lucky, in this respect, I don’t see Theo as different than any other. Sure, I miss O-Cab and wish he was kept on, but I don’t miss Petey or Jesus with both of their declining careers. Those were smart plays.

    Coco hasn’t played like he did in Cleveland, but who saw that? We have Ellsbury to put in there next year and I agree he should be in there for him right now. Lugo has continued his play this year that we saw from him once he was traded to the Dodgers last year, which doesn’t match what he did with Tampa before that. I don’t think anyone saw that either. The same is true for Drew, not his Dodger self, but he’s shown glimmers of coming on at the end of the year and I chalk that up to getting used to the AL pitchers. For either of those last two, I’ll agree that they were both overpaid, but it ain’t my money.

    As for Gagne, no one in the game saw this happening, and I mean no one. In fact, almost everyone in the game said it was a coup trade for the Sox and we certainly all thought so. As for Gabbard and Murphy? Please. These guys weren’t going to get regular time in Boston. Murphy will be a decent 4th outfielder and maybe even crack the starting lineup for a smaller market team, but not in Boston.

    As for Beckett and Lowell, you can go back to Henry for getting them. Lowell was his favorite player when he owned Florida. Not sure why Theo wouldn’t want Becks, unless he was concerned about the blisters, but we’ve seen that was most likely due to the Miami humidity. I’d say if he didn’t want him he’d be an idiot. So, I say he’s just an average GM, nothing more and nothing less.

    Finally, with respect to the playoffs, I stopped watching after Game 3. I watched Reaper instead of Game 4 and didn’t watch the game last night. I am taking the same approach I took in the 2004 ALCS and hoping for the same outcome. I’ll watch Game 7 if we get there. Heck, I might watch Game 6 with you tomorrow night, but I hadn’t planned on it. Anyway, I didn’t get off the wagon or throw in the towel; I couldn’t bear to watch them implode like this.

    I still say Sox in seven!

  • Now that my head has cleared (your beloved home team winning the ALCS will do that for you) I have come here to repent. No, I will not apologize for Tessie. The Dropkicks still owe us for that one – although ‘Shipping Up to Boston’ may be thanks enough (no matter how many times I hear that song, I never fail to get pumped and jacked).

    My post last week was written in desperation. While I know I had nothing to do with the outcome, it is nice to see Francona come around and embrace conventional wisdom by his insertion of Jacoby Ellsbury in the starting line-ups for Gme 6 and 7. Of course, Coco’s absolute failure to execute the most routine of plays (bunting the runners along) in 3 tries may have had something to do with that.

    And there’s happy endings all around. Ellsbury contributed – as the 36,000+ fans who stood and cheered his every appearance could attest to – and Coco got to make a spectacular final catch through his ‘balls to the wall’ dash to rob Cleveland of any potential hint of a rally and send the Red Sox on to the World Series for the first time in three years. (It would be nice if they would win one for my two-year old daughter Aria who has waited a lifetime to see this moment.)

    Game 1 is tomorrow night. I will be saying pennance over the next 24 hours or so and promise not to follow those lemmings to the Tobin again. That thing’s cracked ya’ know.