Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pomp and Circumstance

Come in from that ledge. "It's only a game. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. The Sawx just won a championship in 2007." And so on.

Ten years in the Navy taught me the value of pomp and circumstance. There's the initial excitement of commissioning on the U.S.S. Constitution. The military has bands to play at graduations and retirement ceremonies, and multiple orders of important functions.

The Red Sox have adopted the same posture, raising it to an art form. Forget about Opening Day or championship rings, or Jason Varitek or Tim Wakefield day. The locals have Frozen Fenway, Futures at Fenway, concerts, Picnic in the Park and valuable charitable work like Run to Home Base and more and more.

Unfortunately, what got left behind, amidst the applause and the endless events is a miserable baseball team. The team quit on their "beloved" manager last September and part of the exorcism ultimately included the exile of Kevin Youkilis to Chicago. Nobody could foresee that his understudy, promising Will Middlebrooks had less proclivity to withstand hit by pitches than his mentor.

Erstwhile MVP Jacoby Ellsbury missed the lion's share of the season, and returned disguised as Rick Miller. Twenty million dollar player? Inflation may be upon us, but not that much. Prize acquisition Carl Crawford's played better, but not quite at the Tampa Bay Ray level yet. Another telephone number salary, Adrian Gonzalez has come on, after returning to the comfort of first base.

But the starting rotation, the Gem of Commotion, has fallen apart. Quality starts come from alleged aces Lester and Beckett about as often as full moons. Denying the obvious only excuses management for their inaction. Clay Buchholz returned to form after divorcing the Chicken and Beer club and after that the most valuable starters have been reality show guests Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales.

Fans are seeking some accountability. GM Ben Cherington says all the right things about his hardworking players, but it feels like more handwringing than anything else. Viscount Larry Lucchino, the Puppet Master comes out as often as Punxatawnee Phil. Do the Sox have another six weeks of season left?

But above all else, this Shakespearean tragedy belong to the stars, the answer to the question being playing better not getting better players.

John Wooden had a saying, "don't whine, don't complain, and don't make excuses." The Red Sox never heard of that.

The Red Sox used to be champions, but how hath the mighty fallen, such that the Jays, Rays, and Orioles, unassuming animals in the wild, regularly kick Red Sox butt.

The Nation needs a shakeup, but firing Bobby Valentine, more than anything else , capitulates to the players and diminishes their responsibility. But after all, most have an invisible Assante Samuel "get paid". They got theirs and the rest of us get caught holding the bag. Maybe management will throw a party to celebrate the season. More pomp, whatever the circumstance.

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