Shame, Shame, Shame
By Bill Smith
The day has come that I thought would never come. I am ashamed, no, mortified, to be a Red Sox fan. I am still a fan, an ardent one, who, in despair, has to watch one of the greatest team organizations in the history of man, become the laughing stock of the baseball world. Those who must be obeyed are of such talent and perspicuity to amass billions of dollars in personal wealth. One would think that such titans of finance could as easily amass the axons and dendrites to energize the necessary synapses to make a decision; a decision that has been pending for 60 days, and with each day that decision becomes heavier and more meaningful.
I am ashamed that four of the smartest people in a town full of smart people cannot decide the most basic matter, who is going to manage the team. This was the team that beat the dreaded New York Yankees four straight after being down three games. This was the team of the bloody sock and the critical stolen base. This was the team that laid the Bambino to rest. They did it again three years later. Invincible, unstoppable and loose.
Hit the fast forward button and bring us to today. Perhaps it is one of the Deity’s private jokes, but this team today bears absolutely no resemblance of those majestic teams of yesteryear. The best team ever fielded by the Red Sox completely collapsed in September, squandering a comfortable lead and its chance for the playoffs.
It stretches credulity that this is the same team which is now a group of beaten losers, expending their only efforts in internecine quarrels and finger pointing. After this historical collapse, the actions of upper management were revealed to be partially responsible; a lot of personnel changes and false bravo ensued; behind the scenes actions were revealed that affected the players.
Now, upper management seems paralyzed like a deer in the headlights. Chaos has replaced order. It has been sixty days since the end of the season, two months and no manager has been named. Many have been interviewed and discarded; some who are qualified declined the invitation to be in the chase. The image of this team was tarnished and respectable personnel wanted no part of it. The coach who declined to join the fray, withdrew his name so he “could spend more time with his family”. The next day he signed with another club as manager. How’s that for a very pubkucj slap in the face. Talented people are staying away. Because of the inaction of the powers that be, the team has become a pariah.
For sixty days, management has interviewed, deleted, reintstated and redeleted the cast of managerial hopefuls. Then. Bobby Valentine, who had been lurking in the shadows of this selection process, appeared as the front runner. He is highly talented and as highly strung. Ben Cherington, the General Manager does not like Valentine’s management style as it conflicts with what is in place now.
Enter Eugene Lamont,the present third base coach for Jim Leyland’s Tigers. Lamont has been around a long time, won manager of the year twice and has paid his dues. His personality is more in tune with Cherington’s template. See my earlier post on the two.
It is at this point that removed any doubt about the prepubescence of the front office. Ben Cherington favors Lamont; Lamont is more attuned to the more modern managerial style previously preferred by the Sox. Lucchino wants Valentine. They are old friends. Valentine is an old Japanese hand who was involved in Lucchino getting Daisuke Matsuzaka to the Sox. Lucchino is a strong spirited tough business man, lawyer and CEO of the Sox. Cherington is bright, talented and trained by one of the best in the business. He wants Lamont. Two strong personalities are at loggerheads. There is an obvious power struggle going on as to who is running the team.
To add to this circus, yesterday another name, Torey Lovullo, was mentioned. He had previously been vetted and discarded. This was an obvious attempt to get a compromise candidate, but he has rejoined his place among the rejects. Cherington and Lucchino are apparently glaring at each other, daring the other to cross that line in the sand. This is being waged in public and with each passing day, the franchise loses stature. Those who must be obeyed number four, the two current antagonists and John Henry and Tom Werner, the ones with the money; so we have half the think tank bogged down in prepubescent hubris and the other two are looking out the window, watching NASCAR, playing soccer, anything but straightening out the mess that only they, apparently can resolve. This has increased the shame factor exponentially.
So here we are. First, the Red Sox have gone 60 days without a manager; second, the team, a ragtag group of losers, has been allowed to sink even further without any clubhouse leadership, third, qualified individuals are shunning the Red Sox, not wanting to be part of this mess; fourth, the gang of four’s indecision goes toward explaining what happened the month of September; fifth, and most important, THEY CAN’T MAKE A DECISION.
They hired Cherington to run the team and now they won’t let him do it. Lucchino wants his own man, his friend to be manager, even with his baggage. Where is the ownership in all of this. Why can’t John Henry break the deadlock and name the manager. At this point, I’ll take Johnny Pesky. The masses, who deserve white smoke from the Vatican chimney, are wandering away from the square, having become disillusioned, frustrated, apathetic as this paralysis has cooled the ardor of the once true believer.
This has now reached crisis proportions. If a decision is not made and made soon, whoever the unlucky new manager is, which have a task that will take years to accomplish. I congratulate those who must be obeyed. They have accomplished the seemingly impossible. They have reduced the Red Sox to a laughable, toothless unit. Thanks, guys.