Friday, October 07, 2011

Cliches, Mean Reversion, and a New Sheriff in Town

Nobody reading this column is in the Red Sox clubhouse. We don't know what really goes on amid the 'sanctity' of the locker room, where stale beer and frayed nerves are all that remains from the 2011 season.

Every season begets outliers, overachievement and underperformance. For every Jacoby Ellsbury leading the league in total bases, there's a sad story of injury (J.D. Drew) or unrequited glove (Carl Crawford). Mark Belanger hit .287 in 1969 for the Orioles who went to the World Series. His career average was .228. George Scott hit .303 in the Impossible Dream season of 1967 with 19 homers, and .171 with 3 homers the following season. Statistical aberration happens all too often on the diamond.

Ellsbury is more likely to be mortal next season and Crawford probable to revert to All-Star form. What will the triad of Beckett, Buchholz, and Lester do? We can't know, but we should probably worry about starters 4-7 more than one through three.

Ask yourself about your job. Do your supervisors countenance drinking in your workplace? Do the senior workers routinely take advantage of their position whenever possible? I hope that's not a bad example.

We can't know who are the heroes and who are the zeros.  Do the greybeards add stability or headaches? Jason Varitek's attention to pregame detail was once legendary. Does that fire still burn and has that work ethic translated to the younger players? David Ortiz is one 'face of the Red Sox'. Is he the gentle giant who keeps things loose or a disgruntled soldier ROAD (retired on active duty)? Tim Wakefield took a long time to win his 200th game this season. Did sending him out there act as a net positive or a net negative in the wins and losses column?

Few baseball players will succeed absent 'good' statistics. I don't recall instances where players should have moved the runner along and failed because of personal agendas. Occasionally, players advanced runners with bunts that seemed out of place. Certainly nobody had sacrifice hit clauses.  There was talk of players placing personal goals ahead of team goals. Was that about Wakefield or someone else? Certainly Ortiz would have liked to have had 100 RBI, and that didn't happen. Was that an underlying theme in the clubhouse?

Just because we don't know the facts doesn't mean they don't exist. What is the Red Sox way? Is it more like the Red Sox Weigh? Which GM selects the new sheriff to clean up the town? Is there an unwritten timetable around the World Series?

The only question that should be on the plate of ownership, the GM, and the new manager should be "what must be done to return the team to contending form"?  This year turned into pretending. If some players have acted as spoiled children, then adult leadership needs to apply the discipline required. If the Sox clubhouse became Pleasure Island, then no wonder they all looked like jackasses in the end.

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