Friday, September 30, 2011


I don't feel bad for Terry Francona. I feel relieved for him. Francona helped to deliver a pair of championships to Boston fans, and he treated athletes like men, like professionals, and got stabbed in the back by them. I'm happy that he can leave the asylum on the 'task oriented' (hard guys) and 'player-oriented' roller coaster.

This town has always been about accountability, of management. Players, "our boys", seldom get the scrutiny they might. In psychology they call it "ownership bias". They get love, respect, admiration, and (coloring our provincial view) lots of money. I don't have a problem with athletes saying they play for the money or choose where they sign for the money. That could be as honest as the day is long. But how many have become so 'big' that it's become about them, and not about the team or the organization?

What exactly did Francona "own"? Did he own bad attitudes, selfishness, underachievement, injuries, and distractions? What he owned was the accountability that players seem to avoid.

I have no problem with the Sox giving Francona the deep six. Management has the right to fire any employee contractually. But the problem never lays at the feet of the players, the ones who collectively lacked the intensity, the guts, the will, and the heart to play hard, play smart, and play together.

All too often, the Sox have tried to get by on talent alone, instead of making good fundamental baseball decisions. The players own the successes they've earned, but they own a large part of the epic collapse and underachievement of the 2011 Red Sox. They didn't let the city or the fans down. They sold professionalism and themselves short.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bear Market Action in Boston Baseball

The Red Sox might have been a championship team at some point during the season, but when it mattered most, they lacked the horses, the heart, and the smarts to get it done.

Their "playoffs" were a best of three at Camden Yards against the Woes. And when asked to rise to the challenge against the least of the east, the Sox couldn't execute well enough.

The Sox had some players who executed and never quit, Pedroia with a home run and at least four brilliant plays, two double play turns, a catch of an Aviles throw and a stop of a grounder. Jon Lester worked six strong innings allowing a pair of runs.

But that's far too simple. Baseball isn't a game where 'bearing down' necessarily makes the man. You can grind the bat into sawdust, but that won't help. Gripping the ball tighter decreases the flexibility in the wrist, inhibiting natural movement.

But we need a villain, someone to blame. It's Terry Francona for not being 'tough enough' in the never-ending cycle of 'task-oriented' versus 'people-oriented' managers. Or it's Theo Epstein who overspent and underproduced. Let's blame J.D. Drew (for being hurt) or fault the gods who allowed Kevin Youkilis and Clay Buchholz to be injured.

I do believe that the Sox abysmal start directly resulted from a lackadaisical spring training where the team believed their talent level would allow them to "turn it on" when the bright lights came on. That diminishes the credit that teams deserve who beat the Sox. The early season wipeout in Texas foretold the problems the Sox would have later.

The Sox have a plethora of decisions: GM, manager, shortstop, DH, and right-field are all areas that require attention. The pitching staff now lacks a closer with free agency, and they need how to rebuild the rotation after Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz. Can John Lackey get over his issues? Is Felix Doubront a viable option as a starter? Does Ryan Kalish need another year or can he compete for the right-field position bringing talent and intensity? Or are the Sox simply too left-handed?

Is Terry Francona the problem or have the players simply not collectively been able to be professionals, when given the chance? Player accountability has always surfaced as an issue. Not everybody loved Jim Rice, but he always took responsibility. Are there guys who just simply need to go because they can't play here?

Is the money the problem? Is underachievement a 'relative' term, based on perceived production per dollar? Carl Crawford had an "average" season for the final years of Mike Greenwell. But Greenwell was a media darling and Crawford comes off as surly at times. As fans we do see performance through the prism of pay. Whose fault is that?

Bottom line? The Sox didn't deserve to make the playoffs, and I won't mourn a team that won a handful of games in September. The denouement of the 2011 season really had a perfect ending, the end-of-game, end-of-month, end-of-season weakness seen in bear markets. If only we could have been short the Sox.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why I Should Be the Next Red Sox Manager

I've pretty much heard it all lately, but I should add this to the ever-growing cacophony of calls for Terry Francona's head. "Why I should be the next Red Sox manager."

The Big Picture - Health. Trust me, I'm a doctor, not an Orthopedic surgeon, but better yet a multi-specialty trained physician. I deal with not only physical ailments, but mental health problems as well (critical when dealing with Sox players). A substantial part of the Sox problem has been health-related. I could fact check the medical staffs report directly, not having to run it through 'channels'. I've been in academic medicine and president of a medical staff, so I know the egomaniacs and political intrigue accompanying.

I've got the corporate memory, the Rogelio Moret breakdown, Trot Nixon's fractured transverse process (see Clay Buchholz), the Marty Barrett fiasco, Matt Young with Steve Blass disease, and an unnamed former Sox physician, who when told by a former player that it hurts to raise his arm, said, "then don't do that".

Experience. I played baseball into college where I had a 'terrible not mediocre' career. There's no reason for Red Sox front office personnel to worry about my never having been across the lines.

Great players seldom become great managers. See the managerial careers of Ted Williams and Frank Robinson for example. I've coached girls' basketball for years, and as one former Massachusetts Hall of Fame Basketball coach told me, "it's a soap opera every day." In other words, the Red Sox' job wouldn't be a big challenge, just different.

Moneyball. I've read the book, literally. I didn't HAVE to see the movie. I've got The New Bill James on my bookshelf, along with Rob Neyer's book on pitching, The Fielding Bible, and so forth. I literally stopped playing fantasy baseball (see Prodigy) because I won three out of four years. Pitch charts, pitch counts, and fielding sprays charts are part of my everyday lexicon. OPS, DME, UZR are just VIPs in the DMZ, FYI.

Media Friendly. I haven't stooped to lower levels (Bag Heads, for example) as cheap and dirty shots on the team. I have maintained radio silence during the Sox "rough patch", rather than pile on, like most media. I have my own sports television show on Cable TV, and haven't said a harsh word about Theo or The Trio.

Social Media. Although I have a Twitter and Facebook site, I've also been gentle with the Red Sox there.

Loyalty. Although I've lived out of the area, following the Orioles for ten years while in Maryland, I've never turned my back on the Bosox despite the lengthy championship drought to 2004. I never revealed the source of the "Curse of Dr. (Fill in the Blank)", whose firing by the Yankees led to the Bombers' championship drought.

Intangibles. Half Asian-American scores me points. Local kid, check. Distrust the local sports media? Daniel Shaughnessy. Is it an anagram, "Dan Lies As She Hugs NY?"

Want to talk with management? I can talk commodities, trends, price, pattern, and seasonality, sovereign debt, sovereignty and interest rate risk, margin calls and out calls.

 Let's face it, it's mine to lose. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."