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August 22, 2006

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julia

I really liked this post, Beth. As usual, beautifully articulated.

This morning, I wore my Papelbon shirt to work and found myself defending him to a coffee room full of hostile coworkers. Defending. Papelbon. That is a loss of perspective, if I have ever seen one.

mouse

This is probably the most rational thing I've read on the web today. Very well said, Beth, and what a relief to see.

I've spent a lot of time defending various players to various people, and it seems like there's always that one new guy that winds up as my "project" every year. Last year, it was Edgar Renteria. (Boy can I pick 'em.) This year it's Josh Beckett, and man has that felt like sheer futility most of the time. It's astounding to me how much venom there is around the Sox, both from the media talking heads and the so-called "smartest fans in baseball" even after the end of an 86-year championship drought. There's no patience at all with newcomers or (recently) rookies when they struggle, and that's terrible.

I'm not a sheep when it comes to Theo--I've regularly questioned his bullpen construction, and I've outright hated some of his trade moves (the Josh Bard one most recently). But after reading "Feeding the Monster," I got a good sense of how the FO works and what Theo's MO is, so I give him the benefit of the doubt most of the time. There's a lot of good young talent on this club, but those guys aren't all going to hit their stride right away. I think all fans could learn to be a little more patient before closing the book on any one player...or any one season.

Dan

Nicely done.

Chingachgook

A-freakin-men - thank you for taking the time to write that - wish there was some way we could get that on the front page of the Globe/Herald/Projo.


Katie

I completely agree with what you said here I'm a little tired of having to defend good players because things have gone wrong. I'm sick of having to try and tell people that there isn't really anyone person to blame not to mention no one actually listens to me
great post Beth

Dad

VERY WELL SAID!! I like to remind myself and you on occasion that sports, professional and college, is entertainment that I happen to enjoy. I like watching and talking about the "local entry" in the MLB or NFL. These players have extraordinary skill. They all work at their craft and have the drive or ego to not fail. However, when you get to the professional level everyone has the skill, which makes it difficult to perform all of the time. There is a fine line between success and failure at the pro level. I would encourage everyone to enjoy the moment with these extraordinary folks we happen to have playing in our "local entries". We could after all be watching and supporting the local entries in Tampa or KC.

Couch Potato

Well said, Beth! Like you, I also retooled my perspective on this season after reading the Mnookin book. I think it's human nature to look for the fall guy in any bad situation but that tendency gets amplified when combined with the passion of your average Boston fan. I agree with your point on the media's role in this. I still listen to 'EEI but in much shorter doses & with much more of an objective ear. Subsequently, I am more & more appalled at the things I hear. Ditto the print media. With rare exceptions (Bob Ryan most notably), both seem to revel in dancing the fine line between fact & character assassination.

The most heinous aspect of this is that the media is fully aware of the almost parasitic symbiosis that exists among team, fan, and themselves - which can only lead me to conclude that they engage in this with full (and cynical) deliberation.

Rusty

I can certainly understand the blogger avoiding the Globe and WEEI, and also her apt "pack-a-day" analogy. Any intelligent observer of "the sporting press" knows that its purpose is to arouse reaction, not to facilitate reasoned discourse on the topics it covers. What I can't understand is how she leaps from personal avoidance of the media, to placing the blame of Fiasco '06 squarely on the players.
--------------------------------------------------
"when you lose by an average of 10 runs for three straight games, it's beyond being caused by managerial moves. It's also beyond being caused by the GM not making an eyewash trade at the deadline. Which is not to say that the manager / GM haven't been a factor--but this past weekend, it's safe to say that the players themselves are simply falling down on the job."
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Certainly some players are deserving of criticism, but should Theo be exonerated? Given that injuries to the pitching staff (specifically to Schilling and Foulke) was the root cause of the failure to win the division or a playoff game last year, this statement seems naive;
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It would be nice given the injuries to our starting rotation to have him in there, but unless you can show me that on the day of the trade you anticipated what would happen to our rotation, nobody's psychic.
------------------------------
Not anticipating SOME injuries to the pitching staff, and having no contingency plan is just ignoring (recent) past history. As for Bronson Arroyo "being what he is" (whatever that means)...he is a Cincinnati Red who has pitched 189.1 innings as of 8/28. That number would lead the Sox staff in that category. Think those innings could help preserve a beleaguered pen? And, I'm glad that "Wily Mo is getting better" but I don't see how she can say he's going to replace Manny's bat. I'm no psychic but, Manny is one of the best righthanded hitters in baseball history. Can any reasonable person predict they'll someday say the same about Pena?

Beyond the total failure of Coco Crisp, other glaring weaknesses bringing the club down; no 5th starter, no lefty specialist in the pen, no number 5 hitter, no backup outfielder.

David and Manny have done all that any fan could expect. Kevin Youkilis has been a nice player, Mike Lowell's provided more production than anyone could have expected. That's enough to get you 85 wins, if you're lucky enough to play some of the weakest teams in the National League. I think it's fair to say that Theo had some hand in shaping this club. His failure to address its problems when they became painfully evident -- either at the deadline, before or after -- only worsened the situation. We can all acknowledge his failures without name-calling WEEI-style.

beth

you are certainly entitled to your opinion, though for the most part i still wonder where the line is between theo "failing" and "failing to be psychic." also, i don't recall suggesting that theo is not open to any criticism--this post was mostly about the tone and, in my opinion, hysterical nature of the way that criticism is being voiced.

anyway, i feel the need to point out that what i actually said was:

Take this latest Yankees series. In my opinion, when you lose by an average of 10 runs for three straight games, it's beyond being caused by managerial moves. It's also beyond being caused by the GM not making an eyewash trade at the deadline. Which is not to say that the manager / GM haven't been a factor... [...] through a combination of many, many factors, few of which are under anyone's control in any way whatsoever, this season has not turned out the way we wanted it to so far.

i still stand by the idea that there are a number of factors at work here, one of which has been theo--you make a good case in your arguments, we don't need to rehash them any further. however, what i see is people finding one argument--theo, francona, the bullpen, manny--and heaping all the blame on that one person. and the arguments are neverending, because all of these people are right. because to me, it's all of the above. but people insist on having one person, one goat, one Grady-Little-like figure we can ride out of town on a rail, and that's what i think isn't right.

also, a question...why are you referring to me in the third person?

rusty

Thank you. You're entitled to your opinion as well.

Last season injuries to Schilling and Foulke likely prevented the team winning the division. It doesn't take a pschic to guard against a similar scenario, a prudent baseball man will do. Depth is an important consideration.

beth

so, if you believe theo is chiefly responsible, what do you think the consequence / solution should be?

rusty

oh, i'm not thinking in terms of consequences or solutions, so much as trying to figure out what went wrong. in any event, i certainly don't think he should be fired. however, a climb down off his lofty pedestal couldn't hurt him any. he gets a lot of credit as the engineer of the championship club. and, while some of that praise is deserved, it must be remembered that he inherited quite a few key players; Varitek, Manny, Damon, Nixon, Mirabelli, Nomar, Pedro, Lowe, Wakefield. i would hope that he's able to look critically at his failures as well as successes. without belaboring the point, i'd say he's had a fair number of both.
what do you think?

beth

a climb down off his lofty pedestal couldn't hurt him any.

i'm confused--do you mean this as in, he puts himself there?

as for what i think, from my point of view, what is actually happening here is: right now, as of today, it looks like the red sox will probably not make the playoffs for an unprecedented fourth year in a row--although even that is not fact yet. this after they made the playoffs for the first time in five years and made it five outs away from the pennant; followed that by making the playoffs for a second consecutive year for the first time since 1916, became the first team ever to force a seventh game in a seven-game series after being down 0-3, became the first team ever to win that seventh game, became the first team to win eight straight postseason games, and then won the first championship in eighty-six years; and then followed THAT by making the playoffs for an unprecedented third year in a row.

basically, i think that to ascribe the word "failure" to all that is unreasonable.

rusty

I muddled through the errors in syntax and found what I believe to be your point; The Sox, with the 2nd highest payroll in baseball, aren't going to the playoffs, yet Theo didn't fail. WOW! And some say he has TOUGH job!


beth

you began this conversation civilly. i'm disappointed that you'd choose to end it this way.

rusty

"Red Sox Win 4th Straight Participation Award!"

'Theo Pleased"

beth

now you're being a troll. go find something else to do.

rusty

Don't fall in the pond, gazing at your own reflection there, Narcissus.

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