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Posts Tagged ‘Boston Red Sox’


Yes, I am REALLY EXCITED that the Red Sox won the World Series this year, but let me say one thing to Sports Illustrated:

This…

si-cover

…is not the same as this.

sports-illustrated

I don’t know what troubled me about this week’s cover, but then one of my friends said it best: “I love it for the city but it doesn’t change what happened at the marathon or to the people who lost their loved ones or their limbs etc.”

Yes, last week was amazing in Boston, amazing. The Sox’s win did make us all feel stronger and closer. That’s what the Sox do when they win. 2004 was just as amazing, and so was 2007, and yes, I get the fact that the Sox rallied around the Marathon tragedy, but it’s just baseball, people. Sports can be transformative, but last time I checked, it’s not like Fenway Park became a shelter for victims, like the Superdome was for Katrina. Let’s not make this another manufactured New Orleans moment. THAT was real. This is too over the top.

That is what bothers me. Forced #BostonStrong. If SI really wanted to do something classy, something that spoke to THIS should have been the cover:

bm

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Once in a while, surprises happen, and today on Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub, Red Sox principal owner John Henry made a surprise visit to the station’s afternoon show with Tony Massarotti and Michael Felger.

(Credit: Mark Bertrand)

“The author of the story has gone on the record as saying we did not participate in that,” Henry told Felger and Massarotti Friday afternoon.

“I don’t condemn Bob Hohler for writing a story,” said Henry. “I condemn personal things coming out… About medication, about someone’s marital life.”

“Blaming me personally for being the person who said those things… that’s why I came here. You’re misleading the public.”

Henry, who is also the principal owner of Liverpool FC, could not confirm who the “team sources” were that provided information about former Red Sox manager Terry Francona’s marital and medical issues. He also did not confirm that an internal meeting to weed out the sources had occurred.

Which leads us to this point: if Henry was so adamant today about how he was being accused, why then did he not go on record BEFORE The Globe story was written and say the article was “reprehensible.”

This is classic PR strategy gone wrong in our opinion. It is clear that Red Sox ownership has been hit hard for The Globe article, and Henry’s appearance on Boston radio today was meant to try and soften the criticism. But as the lead chief of his organization, calling out smear campaigns five days after the fact raises several questions that the Sox should answer. In the meantime, the Sox chaos continues, and Boston fans are the losers here.

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I love the Boston Red Sox. Ever since I was born again during the Era of Nomah and shed the last of my Evil Empire allegiance, the Red Sox have become a fabric of my life, my daily oxygen. So I devour anything that is Red Sox, and today’s Boston Globe story about the factors that led to the team’s epic September collapse was required reading for me.

The piece, written by the excellent Bob Hohler with help from Nick Cafardo and Peter Abraham, reveals the story of a team in turmoil, with so much detail that is begs the question: are the owners of Red Sox vindictive employers? Are they using the media to disclose personal and painful information about the manager, Terry Francona, that in essence, ownership stop supporting? And what does it say about The Globe, which is owned by The New York Times, who by the way, is a minority of the Red Sox.

This article, which cites several anonymous sources from all levels of the Red Sox organization, reveals way too much information about Francona and why he left as the team’s manager. It is a shameless and heartless PR attempt to smear and discredit the accomplishments of a manager who has won two World Series in the 21st century for a franchise that before 2004, had not won since 1918.

As the article states:

Team sources said Francona, who has acknowledged losing influence with some former team leaders, appeared distracted during the season by issues related to his troubled marriage and to his health.

Francona spent the season living in a hotel after he moved out of the Brookline home he shared with Jacque, his wife of nearly 30 years. But he adamantly denied his marital problems affected his job performance.

Translation: Francona was not a good employee because he had marital issues and personal problems. Hence, he was no longer capable of remaining an employee of the organization.

Or this:

Team sources also expressed concern that Francona’s performance may have been affected by his use of pain medication, which he also vehemently denied. Francona said he has taken pain medicine for many years, particularly after multiple knee surgeries. He said he used painkillers after knee surgery last October and used them during the season to relieve the discomfort of doctors draining blood from his knee at least five times.

So instead of placing the blame on bad free agent signings (John Lackey, Carl Crawford, to name just two), instead of actually coming out in public during the year á la George Steinbrenner and demanding that the team ship into shape, the ownership of the Boston Red Sox (John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino) stayed silent during the year, which suggests that they never wanted to publicly support Francona during his time of personal crisis in the first place, and then in a classic “not out fault” move, they went ahead and reveal private information that should be kept between an employer and its employee. Does Francona have a good lawyer?

We will say that Francona has stayed classy throughout this fractured relationship. As he told The Globe:

“It makes me angry that people say these things because I’ve busted my [butt] to be the best manager I can be,’’ Francona said. “I wasn’t terribly successful this year, but I worked harder and spent more time at the ballpark this year than I ever did.’

Francona has every right to be angry. It was clear that he handled his departure from the team with class a few weeks ago, but now the team has decided to share personal information about him that quite frankly have nothing to do with his job performance? If you are not happy with his skills as a manager, just say that he couldn’t handle his players right this year. But to suggest that it was because he was worried about his marriage and he was on painkillers is sad.

No wonder Boston GM Theo Epstein is leaving the Red Sox and going to the Chicago Cubs.

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It perplexes people who have known me for ages as well as my new friends who still bleed Yankee pinstripes. To them, I might as well be Benedict Arnold, Neville Chamberlain or the one who got Jesus nailed to a cross. We are talking serious issues here.



So, for all those who have asked me, “How the hell do you root for the Red Sox now?”, I will share my reasons as simply as possible, since I know Yankee fans can be a little bit slow when it comes to logic and reasoning (it’s because they listen to yahoo Yankee announcer John Sterling, the worst broadcaster in history).

But first, a little background: when I moved to the Bronx in 1976 from San Juan, I was already a huge baseball fan. The Pirates were my team…. for obvious reasons. Then my uncle took me to see Tom Seaver at Shea and I was hooked on NY baseball. I lived about 40 blocks from Yankee Stadium, down the Grand Concourse and of course, as a foolish and impressionable little boy, I became a Yankee fan.

It wasn’t hard: Phil Rizzuto, Willie Randolph, Craig Nettles, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, and yes, of course: REG-GIE., REG-GIE, REG-GIE! I was at the 1977 World Series game where Jackson hit the three homers against the Dodgers to win the title for the Bombers. I met Dimaggio and Mantle. I also watched a game once from Steinbrenner’s luxury suite. Then Don Mattingly came along, and I wanted to bat left-handed.

Fast forward to 1986. Freshman year, Harvard. Mets-Red Sox. I had always thought that Yankee fans were pretty loyal, but when I caught the Bill Buckner game with my roommates and when one of them threw their TV out the window into Harvard Yard after the Sox blew the Series, I was intrigued. Still a Yankee fan, but intrigued.

1988. I entered Fenway Park for the first time. Mind you, having gone to games in Yankee Stadium and at Shea, I had no idea that a heavenly place such as Fenway even existed. 10 beers later (I had a GREAT Fake ID from Alaska!), I was hooked. But I still rooted for the Yankees.

Then Mattingly retired in 1993 (or was it 1994, when the Rangers won the FREAKIN STANLEY CUP). At the same time some Mexican kid with a funny name started playing for the Red Sox. By then, I was paying for about 10 games at Fenway, at a time when you could still walk up to a ticket booth and buy bleacher seats for $10. Nomar Garciaparra was everything I loved in a baseball player: play hard and ask questions later. Soon, NOMAH became my mantra.

Enter a little Dominican pitcher named Pedro Martínez and all of a sudden, Fenway felt like Santo Domingo whenever he pitched. Meanwhile, the Yankees started feeling like Microsoft to me. Too rich. Too good. Too arrogant. Yes, I started fallen for the scorned lover.

2004. The year it became cool to say PAPI in Boston. Sure, Ortiz was on the juice, but for 48 hours in Boston when the Sox were down 3-0 to the Yankees (btw, AROD pickup annoyed the crap out of me), life in Boston was never better. People said hi on the train. Strangers held doors open for others. All because of the BIG PAPI.

Seeing my father-in-law shout for joy when the Sox won their first title since 1918 sealed it for me. Add another 2007 title and a ballpark that is about as good as it will ever be, and you have perfection.

Finally, both my kids are huge Sox fans. As a Papi, I know feel I need to steer them right.

So call me the Bronx Judas. I freakin love it. And by the way, Beckett pitches a two-hitter tonight.

Boston, you know I love you madly.

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