Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Chicken or the Egg
The Red Sox continue to cobble together a roster. Only time will tell to what extent it works. First, the record last year speaks for itself. The team played poorly, trailing early and often and seldom showed any heart.
The easiest approach is to blame the manager (V who must never be named), and nobody would credit him with anything except survival. But the word on the street described a team lacking discipline, clubhouse disorder, a few disciples of Bacchus, and divas whose performance never came within shouting distance of underperformance. Look, we outsiders can't name names, and local scribes can't realistically do their jobs if they call out players. Some will argue that a bad team reveals bad men. Others note that the lack of character produces bad results. You be the judge.
Additionally, too many players lacked 'respect' for the manager, and in fact, we hear that players (specifically pitchers) feared new manager John Farrell, and that the position players had no problem with that.
I don't think that the Red Sox are done. Leo Durocher is remembered for "nice guys finish last," and we remember Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin scrapping in the dugout. But whatever their problems, the Yankees played hard...and well...and last year the Red Sox did little of either.
Other factors are 'at work', too. I get it. A player who gets ten million dollars a year doesn't have to care what anybody - fans, teammates, manager, writers, or especially bloggers think. But they call it "professional baseball" both because of the talent level and the demand, the grind of the long season that is quantitatively different than many other sports. Players who don't commit to the highest level of conditioning, to embracing sports psychology, nutrition, getting adequate rest, and improving their game (bat speed, arm strength, reducing defensive miscues and errors) are cheating the game, and disrespecting themselves.
You can create an environment for success, but you can't force players to care. Last year's roster became the definition of FRAGILE, falling apart when subjected to stress and volatility. Few players, such as Cody Ross and Dustin Pedroia, emerged with reputations intact or enhanced. Replacing dysfunctional characters with character is a start, but only a beginning.