Friday, September 30, 2011

An open letter to the Red Sox and Red Sox Fans (AKA Red Sox Nation)


Let me be the very first to welcome you to the real world of Major League Baseball as it occurs today. Please fasten your seat belt, it is going to be a bumpy ride.

Over the last several years, you and your team have moved from the “lovable losers” stage, right through the “Gee, isn’t this great, we got a ring” era and running smack into the “Great Expectations” eon of your franchise. Let me explain.

Years ago, the Red Sox were much like the red haired step son, barely tolerated by most of the baseball world, never amounting to much of anything. They had sold their best player, maybe the best player ever in the history of baseball and had embarked on a long, tortured, cursed, 86 year existence without winning anything. Sure, you came close a number of times – 1975 and 1986 come to mind and who can forget 1978, but you always failed to deliver and the faithful accepted this as par for the course. You were the lovable losers with the ancient crumbling ballpark and little good history to hold up to the rest of the baseball world.

Then in 2004 and repeated in 2007, you guys won a World Series and suddenly the talk changed to “dynasty” words and free agent expenditures, and your ballpark became classic, a relic of an era gone by, yet somehow, SOMEHOW, saved by THE Boston Red Sox. You sold out every game, players were clamoring to come to New England, fans flocked to identify with you, and you reveled in it. You put seats on your wall, let the common fan take pictures with your trophies and were proclaimed geniuses of all that you touched.

Then, almost as quickly as you rose from the depths of despair and failure, and triumphally entered the brave new world of Champions, something happened. You were taken by surprise by this and it hurt. You see, you loved being on top of the world (who doesn’t) and you began to expect that every thing would always go your way. You had geniuses in charge and they would continue to lead you to the promised land, time after time, after time. You spent big money on some questionable free agents from different worlds and different parts of the country, and expected they would just blend in, play well and get you ring after ring. And everybody LOVED it. Last winter, you were talk of the baseball world, with shiny new free agents who, according to your adoring minions, were going to be part of the best team in baseball, maybe the best team in baseball history. What is the record for most wins in a season you asked, we will score more. What is the record for most wins in a season, you asked, we will win more. Why play the season, you asked, just shine up the trophy, order the new Championship rings, and crown us now. Nobody can stop us from our appointed position as the best.

But a funny thing happened on your way to another World Series crown. You didn’t make it. You stopped yourselves. You didn’t even make the playoffs. In a world of the greatest expectation for your success, you collapsed, folded up the tents and left town in the dark of night. The fans blamed everyone on the team in one way or another. The press, oh the wicked press, blamed it on everyone too. Somewhere, on a fan bulletin board, someone called for the cabbie that brought a free agent pitcher to the stadium, to be fired as well. You had lost it in the last possible instant, in the worst possible way, like a flubbed grounder or walk off home run, and the reverberations were loud and clear. What was once seen as loveable losing was now branded a total and inevitable collapse. Even your own “children”, the "Peter Gammons" and "Dennis Eckersleys" of the media could not wait to crucify you, hold you up as an example of all that is wrong with the sport and condemn you to the fires of baseball Hell. The radio and news reports are all about the dissention in the clubhouse, the uncontrolled alcoholism of the failing players, the mismanagement of the club, the disconnect with the fans. It will probably cost you your manager, possibly your general manager and may usher in the era of bloated contracts and under performing prima donnas for the next few seasons.

So, where does this leave you? Back in third place, where I like to see you. In a turmoil of doubt and shame. Love it. Getting a view of the real world of professional baseball. Priceless. Welcome to the big league boys, we were hoping to see you get there.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Manager of the year?

So the NY Yankees came within a breath of sweeping the Red Sox last weekend and spent the last few days of the season trying to find out ways to lose to Tampa Bay in order to fully piss off Red Sox Nation. I figure I would use the time to talk about Joe Girardi, his season and candidacy for Manager of the Year.

I’ll begin by saying that I really believe there is an anti NY bias in this vote, related to payroll and the perceived notion that they buy a good team and that it takes no skill to manage a team of high priced superstars. Well, how do you think Tito Francona and Theo Epstein are feeling about that right now? They were the dream team this year, picked by all the “experts” to win the American League East, the chosen ones being bestowed the World Series Trophy as early as last February. Money has little to do with it if particular parts are not available or break down or just underperform. Therefore your argument here is invalid…

Let’s take a hard look at what Girardi has done this year. He was an underdog, with no one picking the Yankees to win the East by 6 games. He had to deal with several significant injuries on the club including 3 of the 5 planned relief corps, the starting third baseman, his back up, a starting pitcher for a month or so, just to name a few. There was the distraction of Derek Jeter getting his 3000th hit. In the last month, he had the team prepared to play, rested the veterans appropriatly and got to stick it to the Red Sox once again. They peaked at just the right time. All of these point to just how good a job he has done.

Who else could be in contention for this award? Well I can’t think of another candidate in the American League. No one else over reached projections of how they would do this year. I am beginning to think that Girardi should get it in a landslide. I’m sure Titi Francona will vote for him…from home…while the Yankees move on through the playoffs…

Monday, September 12, 2011

WTF is wrong with this picture Bud?


To: Mr. Bud Selig
Subject: WTF?
From: T Fab P and baseball fans everywhere

It may seem that I only write to you when you make a mistake, which is like once or twice a week now-a-days. Remember when I told you back in June 2010 how to handle that no hitter/not no hitter when umpire, Jim Joyce, made that mistake that cost Armando Galarraga a chance at no hitter immortality? I laid it all out for you so you could have been the hero of the situation, but did you listen? No. I wrote to you again this past June, about the rumors of realignment and changes in the baseball playoffs. I gave you a detailed plan, centered on what the fans want, what we really need. Did you listen then? No. So when I heard about this newest debacle related to uniforms and commemorating September 11th, I harbored no fantasy or expectation that you would actually listen because this is all about the money for you and the owners. But I will tell you anyway and hope you will do the right thing. Do I suspect you will listen? No. But here it is anyway.

When baseball resumed playing after the September 11th tragedy, both the Yankees and Mets, our New York teams, honored the bravest and finest, by wearing caps that saluted the 343 policemen and firemen and EMT’s and paramedics who gave their lives that day as well as the hundreds more who were first responders. This was a stirring tribute, one that to this day, still brings a tear to my eye. They honored them and they deserved every moment of remembrance that this brought.

So imagine how I felt, how the fans of baseball felt, when we heard that the Yankee and Met players were planning to wear those caps again, on the 10th anniversary of that tragedy, in memory. What a wonderful and fitting tribute, devoid of any reason other than altruism, one to be embraced, and respected and honored.

So did MLB do the right thing here? Did they grab this wonderful notion and hold it up for the entire world to see? Oh, come on now, you know the answer as well as I do. No, they did not. They banned the wearing of those caps. They threatened to fine any players significantly if they ignored the ban. Was the reasoning pure? Oh, come on now, you know the answer to that too. Baseball with you, former owner and current commissioner, was going to honor your favorite thing in all the world - money. You butchered this one up real good. Just like you have infringed in all matters of patriotism with your MLB "official caps" on the 4th of July or Memorial Day, you have produced the “OFFICIAL” September 11th baseball cap, complete with American Flag on the back, that we the fan, will have the opportunity to purchase for a mere $36.99. Yes, you said no to the memory, yes to the money and produced a cap that would be worn on only “one day” in order to make a killing on the deaths and sacrifices of these true heroes.

Well you know what Buddy Boy, you can take your patriotic clap trap and shove it up your and MLB’s ass. I wouldn’t want one of your caps if you gave them away for free. If I got my way, this will be the spark of an event that leads to you resigning in disgrace. This was unconscionable. This was bad PR, this was greedy and self important. This was a mistake.

You sir, are an idiot…

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I hate to say I told you so, but…

Way back in this post, I chided the Yankees for not promoting Jesus Montero from the minor leagues. At times over the last couple of years, he has been the subject of trade rumors, being offered (Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez) or being wanted in any deal by a number of clubs. After his performance this weekend, it may begin becoming clearer just what we have in this young kid.

How young? Well he became only the 8th 21 and under major leaguer to hit 2 homeruns in a game, joining Manny Rameriz, and a bunch of middling youngsters like Tom Brunanski, Don Money, and Curt Blefary. Here’s hoping he ends up more like Ramerez and less like Blefary.

Minor leaguers performances after September call ups is a crapshoot. Many more don’t make an impact, while few grasp the mantle of stud and go on to phenomenal major league careers, so the fact that Montero hit two homers in his 4th game in the majors comes with mixed messages. One is that this is a true superstar in the making while the other is a long string of “one hit wonders” who never amount to much in the majors.

The Yankees are going to take a long look at Montero this month and I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the playoff roster. He would do that in place of Jorge Posada, or possibly one pitcher who is left off the playoff team. Then again, after the major league scouts get a good look at him, compare notes and send reports to the big clubs, we will get to see just how he adjusts to changes in the way he is pitched to.

My only question, besides how well will he do, is what took the Yankees so long?