Saturday, October 15, 2011

Prodigal Sox

What do the Red Sox 'owe' the fans...and themselves? There's not a fine line between reasonable and unreasonable. Fans expect maximum effort, physically and mentally, from THEIR team. Every member of the organization has to ask himself or herself, did I give it up or just give up?

I doubt you could find five people (of sound mind) who would question Dustin Pedroia's commitment and effort. David Ortiz said it himself, that he had never seen anyone who cared as much about baseball as the Sox second baseman. Fans will forgive, the moment that the organization and the players acknowledge that the letdown didn't "just happen".

By way of comparison, consider the most dreaded of times, 1986. No rational soul thought Bill Buckner didn't give the effort. People watched him painfully move around the diamond. Fans hated the outcome, and some hated the man, but for the wrong reason. Fast forward, to a team, not twenty-five guys in twenty-five cabs, but twenty-five limos. We perceive that players see fans as inconsequential whiners, shoeshine boys to their magnificant selves. That doesn't make it true, but perception becomes reality.

The Sox have a greater task winning back people's hearts than winning baseball games. Talent, with an appropriate dose of effort, wins a lot of athletic contests. Fans aren't bemoaning a lack of talent, we see something far worse, 'false hustle' and questionable integrity.

Owner John Henry was asked yesterday, "what could you have done differently?" He had a solid answer, "I don't know." In the long pull, perhaps what happened will reap positive rewards as the organizational culture changes into one with hungrier players. The fans come expecting not only winning baseball but PASSIONATE baseball. We feel betrayed and a half-hearted apologia will not soothe the collective animus of the nation.

I'm sure the marketing crew is working overtime to develop a campaign for absolution. What shibboleths get tossed around in times like these:
  • We owe you one.
  • Our fans make a difference.
  • Never again.
  • We know we blew it.
  • We will earn your trust.
  • We understand how you feel.
  • We'll show that we care as much as you do.
  • Something to prove.
  • More than a game...a way of life.
  • Family forgives.
  • We care.
I'm leaning to 'we will earn your trust'. But it's going to take a lot more than a slogan.

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