Keidel: Boston Dead Sox?

By Jason Keidel
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Forget that I’d root for Cuba’s national team – with Castro coaching – over the Boston Red Sox.

Forget our duplicitous buddies in Boston, who branded the Yankees cheaters while the meat of their lineup shot equine cocktails that would make Man o’ War blush.

Forget their hypocrisy, calling the Yankees the Evil Empire for spending $200 million while Boston spends well over $150 million every year.

Forget that they started 2-10 and finished 7-20, vomiting an unbeatable September lead to Tampa for the AL wild card spot.

Forget that Manny is gone and Papi is perhaps next in line to leave his beloved yet beleaguered fans up I-95.

Theo Epstein and Terry Francona – the twin faces of the Babe’s broken hex – have been jettisoned from Fenway. We can parse the particulars – whose idea it was for each employee to leave, who knew what and when they knew it, etc. – but the truth is that the remains of a once-brilliant ball club are buried, along with Ruth’s ghost.

Let me be clear: I love it, and leave it to the Red Sox to bounce the boys of their best summers. Even this year, between the brutal bookends of April and September, Boston went 81-42. Evidently, the men who put that kind of team together aren’t worth keeping around.

Many Red Sox devotees assure me that this is the right move, and that the team of Tito and Theo have lost the attention of the team they led to two World Series titles. There have been rumors about beer drinking, about poker and Playstation playing in the clubhouse, while wearing the historic choke like a loose garment. I don’t care.

I don’t want to see the men who built the ball club that no longer feared the Yankees, the Cowboy Up cadre who performed the impossible exacta of not only beating New York, but also doing it while down 3-0 in the ALCS.

I don’t care that Theo is about to be in Chicago. I care that he’s not in Boston. Neither is Francona, perhaps the only likeable lifer in their dugout. Like his opponent during their title runs, Joe Torre, Tito’s primary job was to juggle the titanic and volcanic egos that come with disparate cultures and cash levels. And he did it masterfully.

There is truth to the assertion that every run ends, that even the strongest voices will one day find deaf ears. Maybe Francona’s leash stretched far too long, and the players pulled until it snapped. But the whole thing feels quick and careless, immature and premature, a move spawned by a newly pampered region, overwhelmed by a sudden sense of entitlement. And while it’s the goal of every team to win the World Series, only the Yankees have that yearly mandate. Utterly forgotten up north is that Boston is the only team with multiple championships over the last decade. And the collective amnesia could be fatal.

When you spend Boston’s megabucks on payroll – and it seems every Sox fan’s nightmare is a knee-jerk spending spree on Jose Reyes – chances are good that you’ll be good every season. And maybe the next tandem to lead the Red Sox will be just as sublime as Theo and Tito. But don’t bet on it. It takes a special spiritual mien to do what those men did. Winning a few games with Josh Beckett or Pedro Martinez is easy. But to renounce and remold an entire culture ensconced in the aggregate gags over 86 years, to grow beards over the scar tissue of Bill Buckner, Bucky Dent, and Aaron Boone is a wondrous feat.

And just like that, they’re gone. Perhaps it was Francona’s idea. I don’t care. He will no longer torture the Bombers in a Boston jersey. Owner John Henry did his cryptic best to boot Epstein, too, saying no one keeps his job forever, essentially sealing Epstein’s vocational coffin. Epstein landed softly, on a mound of money (up to $20 million) from the Cubs. I don’t know if he fits the contours of the Friendly Confines. I don’t care.

This sounds like an organizational gag reflex commensurate to the one they witnessed on the diamond. Forgive the cliché, but two wrongs don’t make a right, and they’d better be right in light of what Epstein and Francona did for this franchise. Sometimes a little distance endears the departed employees to their former employers. Henry and his minions may find that this was a colossal mistake. And there’s no reset button.

The team that couldn’t lose looks lost, blindfolded while pointing fingers at new found or unfounded foes. Boston is about to lose their All-Star closer (Jonathan Papelbon). And they may part ways with their iconic cleanup hitter (David Ortiz), who doubled as team consigliere down the dugout, the glue among a conga line of loose cannons.

There are myriad gaps, mostly metaphysical (John Lackey has been a loser, Carl Crawford was a bust after signing a seismic contract, and questions abound about Daniel Bard after he shriveled up in September), to be closed by a squad that was picked by pundits to win well over 100 games and make quick work of the American League. There is still much talent, but an equal heaping of torment. Ben Cherington (who?), Epstein’s apparent replacement, has some Shaq-sized cleats to fill, as will his new manager.

An ancient boxing maxim says if you kill the body, the head will die. But in baseball, it’s often the reverse. Two fine baseball minds just left Beantown. They turned the Bambino’s hex into a hoax, yet their bosses are suddenly, stunningly forgetful and ungrateful. Perhaps this mess of a month has created a new voodoo in New England.

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  • dabooch

    Yanks have their own problems, they have stiffs that can’t perform and last I look Viagra won’t even help.

    • don

      You are absolutely correct and I’m a Yanks fan. They are old, older, oldest

  • Kurt Spitzner

    They fired two very capable men because as the old say adage goes you cannot fire the entire team,so now they must lie in the beds they have made for themselves.What sucks is that ownership will still make money regardless of what happens on the field.Must be nice!

    • JK

      Indeed, Kurt. So you and I agree. Who would you name as next manager?

      • Kurt Spitzner

        Joe Torre would be a thought for certain reasons,but I am sure with a bit more thought I could come up with someone better as I do not believe the dread sox ownership deserve a class act such as Joe T!If they want fire and have someone who will not take and crap they should coax Wally Backman from the Mets org and see what he will do!Once again these are only my opinions for what they may be worth!

        • JK

          Well, bud, considering Torre is 70 years old and retired from managing, perhaps you can give us someone more suitable for the job…Heh

          You can do it, bud! ;)

          • Kurt Spitzner

            I think Wally B could get all the prim a donas together without a doubt,and even though Joe T is 70 he could still get it done but if he is ready to retire then why bother,but nothing in sports is ever written in stone!Maybe Wally B as manager and Joe T as bench coach!

  • Sully

    The great Orioles and A’s teams died… the Lasorda Dodgers died… the Bobby Cox Braves died… the Gaston Blue Jays died… the Mike Schmidt Phillies died… the Kaufman Royals died… the Bronx Zoo Yankees died… the great 1970s Pirates team died… All won at least one World Series title…All eventually died off and a new team emerged (except in KC.)

    Play taps for the Red Sox. We have a life time of great memories and wonderful moments. 2004 and 2007 are what I waited my whole life for. Now comes some bad years and in a few years a new team will emerge. Maybe led by Pedroia and Ellsbury. Maybe a totally different cast of characters. I choose not to dwell on how badly it ended but on how wonderfully they fulfilled our wildest fantasies.

    Hopefully Sox fans will remember Francona and Epstein for winning in the Bronx and St. Louis in ’04. Hopefully the first memory Sox fans will have of Papelbon will be him leaping in the air in Denver and not walking off the mound in Baltimore.

    I hope the new Sox front office does NOT go on a free agent spending spree. The team is 4 or 5 pitchers away from being a legit pennant contender and signing Jose Reyes is no way to solve that problem.

    I say thank you to this wonderful Sox team era and patiently await the next era of glory.

    And go Tigers

    • JK

      Ladies and gents, Sully has an outstanding baseball blog. He’s as well-read on the Red Sox – and the sport overall – as anyone you’ll ever meet. I assume you don’t mind the plug, Mr. Sullivan. ( I urge all to follow it, and y’all know I don’t praise folks promiscuously.

      We’re both on the record, Sully. To me, these moves reek of reaching and overreacting. But as you and I said on your show, you had to bounce both guys. Keeping one would have been pointless. Is it your sense that Tito entirely lost the club? How much of the collapse falls on the employee and, likewise, on the employer?

      You don’t have one ounce of reservation? Who’s your next manager? Let’s assume for a second that you’re Cherington.

  • SK

    Do they know Leonardo Quintero?

    • JK


    • donnie

      Wasn’t he the Alcalde Zorro ousted???

  • chess_player

    Wow, obsess much over the Red Sox?

    • JK

      Wow, obsess over those who obsess over the Red Sox? Let’s waste some more time.

      • chess_player

        Not really. Stopped by the site to see wome news and found this garbage.

        • JK

          And then you decided to add more garbage. Good job. Nice spelling, too. What does “wome” mean, exactly?

          • chess_player

            You must be the world’s best typist to never have a typo before. And your only comeback is to critcize the spelling.I can tell I’m dealing with someone very witty here. The sad fact here is you are obsessed over the Red Sox.

  • robert richardson

    I love it! Great news for Yankee fans. A small consolation for a hollow season.

    • JK

      Preach, Robert!

  • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

    An enjoyable, well-written article as usual, Jason. I do, however, disagree a little bit. While Tito and Theo were no doubt the best, brightest and most successful regime that Boston has seen in almost a century, there comes a time when a change of face and a change of pace serve both the ballclub and the fan base well.

    Theo did all he could to bring a championship to Boston, and by jeez, he brought two. Terry brought strategy, fire and the kind of personality that fits in a Fenway dugout – and there aren’t many that do. But, as with any franchise overflowing with cash, owners come into play as well – Yankees fans surely must remember good ol’ Kenny Lofton, Tony Womack, Javier Vazquez, Randy Johnson and Javier Vazquez – and eventually, more money leads to more problems.

    If the Sox were the A’s, where Mr. Epstein’s buddy Billy Beane resides, he would not have been able to sign Lackey or Crawford even if he wanted to. Terry would most likely not have had as many egos clashing in his dugout. Yes, that may have prevented this year’s collapse, but it also probably wouldn’t have brought all that success beforehand. But the collapse is what’s fresh on the minds of fans, and just as with Tom Glavine’s 15 wins in ’06 and 13 in ’07, what happens last is what lingers.

    It’s time for a change in Boston, and even if it brings not nearly the success of Tito and Theo, at least in a few years it’ll make fans appreciate what they used to have.

    • JK

      I can’t say you’re wrong, dude. That’s why I tossed in the proviso that all dynasties (or whatever you care to call Boston’s run) die. I just have a hard time believing that the next two gents will enjoy a fraction of Francona’s success.

      • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

        I have a hard time believing it as well. But at this point, what the fan base needs is a new reason to be excited. This isn’t like the Yankees Dynasty “dying,” when the Diamondbacks stunned ’em rather memorably (for me) in 2001, beginning a nine-year run of no World Series championships in the Bronx. But barring a horrendous hire or two, Boston can expect at least some form of success in 2012. Take it from a Mets fan, whose own team experienced a new manager and GM this past year – as long as there’s something to be excited about, a sense of something to play for and a good tactical guy on the bench, there will be reason to cheer in Beantown.

        I can’t guarantee that’ll happen, though. What worries me about Cherington is that he was Epstein’s right-hand man, which doesn’t promise much of a change, if that’s what the Sox are looking for. But we’ll see.

        • JK

          Perfectly logical, dude. But what if the next tandem tanks? Should the Yanks have canned Cashman and Torre after the dynasty died? To show I’m not a hypocrite, I called for Torre’s job after that ALCS gag in 2004. Forgive the dreadful cliche, but Boston should be careful what they ask for…

    • Rico SS

      Totally agree Jonas. It is time for a change. The exit of Tito and Theo is more dramatic than Torres, but both instances reeked of being under appreciated. Owners are egomaniacs. Whether its Boston or NY. Doesnt matter much.
      Sure do wish the media would get off this beer, video and chicken game. As Ortiz said in his interview, it was like that in 04 and 07 when they were Champions. Does anybody really think that this stuff doesnt go on in almost all clubhouses? Is anyone that naive??

  • JK

    Indeed, Jonas. Esteban said that instead of doing what? Not only is he a hater, but he actually follows me around (thus the “consistency” remark) and snipes from the comfort of his cubicle. Not sure about you, but I tend to avoid the writers/actors/painters I dislike.

    Anyway, sir, your take on the Sox?

  • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

    Way to go, constructive criticism! Shows what you know, loser.

    • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

      (That was to Steve, obviously.)

      • JK

        I figured that, Jonas, since it was just the three of us in the room at the time. It’s a little early for drinking – and I warned Steve as much – but he guzzled the Haterade right from the bottle. Didn’t even put it in a paper bag.

  • JK

    Consistency is important, Steve. Have a lovely weekend.

  • Steve

    Whatever is below IDIOT on the food chain, you’re just under that.

    If nothing else you’re consistent though.

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