You’re Ben Cherington and you know that you should probably be fired.
You’re Ben Cherington and you know you are in way over your head. You are desperately hoping that Henry and Lucchino will give you a “mulligan”—a do-over for 2012.
You are wearing a brave mask and talking enthusiastically about “next year,” but you know that you are humming through the hailstorm; head-sized hail is landing all around you.
You can tell yourself that things will be different next year, but you know they can’t.
Lester, who fell from Ace to #4 and Beckett, who took a dive from a declining #2 to “middle reliever,” will still be in the rotation.
Your boss, CEO Lucchino, just announced to the world that his Misfit Manager will be back next season, so the clubhouse tension will remain. Even if Valentine resigns, how do you find a manager willing to walk into a Wild West clubhouse to play “New Sheriff in Town” equipped with a toy cap gun with no caps?
Like the rest of his cronies in the Elite One-Percent cohort, John Henry will still be turning his profits from Fenway sell-outs into gold bars in off-shore banks and not plowing them back into the team.
You’re Ben Cherington and you conclude that the Red Sox franchise is FUBAR.
You’re Ben Cherington and you are starting to understand that your best career move is to “move on” gracefully to “accept a new challenge,” before Lucchino walks past your office door on the way to convince Henry, the titular head, that you are the problem and must be fired.
You know that firing Francona’s hold-over coaches will not satisfy the mob. Somebody in “management” will need to be served up to the howling horde for symbolic disembowelment. Usually it is the manager, but Lucchino says it will not be Valentine. Larry’s ego will win the battle with his Higher Self and not let him admit that he is the biggest failure of the four--Divas of Dysfunction.
You do the math: John Henry cannot fire Lucchino, his majordomo, the man he publicly said was “running the team.” John Henry will not fire himself. Lucchino took Valentine off the hit list. That leaves one name on the Management hit list: yours.
You’re Ben Cherington and you know it is better for your career for you to fall on your sword than wait for the guillotine.
You read in the Boston Herald today, what you said last November:
“It is going to be more about fixing what’s under the hood than it is about buying a new car,” the rookie general manager said at the time.
Then, your boss undercut you by hiring a manager for your team just three weeks later. Once Lucchino made that command decision, you knew there was no going back.
Now you are reduced to trying to change the subject from this season:
“No doubt, the sample size is bigger now. It’s five months instead of one, and it’s not working the way we need it to,” you tell the Herald.
Grasping for a hold, you state to obvious:
“We need to look at it a little more critically and consider different types of remedies than last offseason. I don’t know what that’s going to manifest into, but there’s no doubt this has been a longer period where it hasn’t worked.”
You know it’s just obfuscating the truth using Business Bullshit and
in Cowboy English, it means:
Last winter I failed to look critically and the remedies I chose failed. I am not sure what I can do, but my plan for this season “hasn’t worked.”
You render another biggie of Business Bullshit:
“[It is] always good to take a tiny step back after the season and try to look at it objectively — what’s really not (a) worry, what maybe just appears not to be working.”
In Cowboy English, it means:
I work in “tiny” steps. Maybe if we look at it “objectively,” there are really no big problems, just things that are really not a worry and things that just appear to be not working.
Although most baseball scouts and batters realized back in April that Beckett had lost his stuff, you stayed in denial all the way through Beckett’s slow-motion implosion: from May 21, a 13-start stretch in which his ERA is 5.77.
Then, just today, you shocked Sox fans by admitting that, even at this late in the season [Aug. 19], you STILL don’t get it:
“The question with Lester and Beckett is what are the reasons for their underperformance. It’s not a matter of effort. I don’t think it’s a matter of stuff.
Their stuff looks largely the same as it did last year.”
Really? While you may be correct about Lester, do you really believe that Beckett’s fail was not, in large part, “a matter of effort”? Did you miss it when he told WEEI in a late-August  interview:
“Baseball isn’t my No. 1 priority anymore.”
Do you really believe that Josh Beckett’s “stuff looks largely the same as it did last year.”? Do you realize that you may be the only person on the planet who holds that opinion?
As early as last May, FanGraphs saw it:
“It’s not just his fastball, either. His curveball is off over 2 MPH from last year, so this isn’t just a case of a missing top-end velocity, but instead, Beckett’s just not throwing anything as hard as he has in the past.
So, we have a guy, whose velocity is down across the board, posting the lowest strikeout rate and highest home run rate of his career….playing a significant role in Beckett’s inability to get hitters out.”
You’re Ben Cherington and in a state of fear and desperation, you put the blame on the players:
“I think the next six weeks, whatever we have, are really important…there are things we can do in the next six weeks to establish standards going into the offseason and going into next year. Things that we’ve always done as a team that we need to do a better job at, whether it’s grind at-bats like we’ve grinded them before, attack the strike zone like we have in our best years, be prepared as well as we’ve been prepared in the past. . . . And then sure, there’s more to do in the offseason like there always is.”
Then, as an afterthought, you off-handedly, referred to your role with this cliche:
“…there’s more to do in the offseason like there always is.”
You’re Ben Cherington and you are hopelessly wishing that “talking makes it so,” that talking about yourself, in the future, working on fixing the Red Sox, again, this winter will magically make it happen.
You’re Ben Cherington and you are hoping that this smokescreen you are spreading to hide 2012, will linger long enough to allow you to still be the General Manager this winter, but you are sensing it is rapidly reducing to a vapid thinning veil.
You’re Ben Cherington and you have decided that, before the Happy Horseshit façade fades, you will put what moments remain to good use: looking for your next job.
Theo is about to begin interviewing candidates for the farm director position, which will be an important job with the Cubs committed to investing in young players and building from within. That was the path the Red Sox were on in the old days before the big FA contracts to Lackey and Crawford.
You’re Ben Cherington and you are convincing yourself that could be a perfect career move.
After all, you’ve got the background: you served as a Red Sox area scout, baseball operations assistant, coordinator of international scouting, and assistant director (and then director) of player development from 1999–2005.
From December 12, 2005, through January 19, 2006, you filled in as co-general manager of the team with Jed Hoyer during Theo’s absence from the team.
Now old Jed is the Cubs’ Executive Vice President/General Manager. And you other old pal from the Theo days, Jason is the Senior Vice President/Scouting and Player Development.
It could be like old times; the four of you working together again.
[Sound of 10 beeps from buttons on his cell phone]
You’re Ben Cherington, you take a full inhale, while the phone rings, you exhale your tension, you swallow your pride and say: “Oh, hello…This is Ben Cherington, is Mr. Epstein there?”