Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Milestone Afternoon

There's been a lot said, written, and speculated about accountability surrounding the Boston Red Sox.  This is a culture that, at least in my eyes, hit its defining moment on September 30, 2009.  This was following a season where I wrote in this very space that I was happy the season was going to be over.  Quoted from that article: 

Lester, Beckett, and Youkilis were the victims of bad calls. Papelbon's the victim of a front office who doesn't agree with his infallibility. Drew's the victim of sore glove hand and a slave driver in Francona who makes him play through sore groins. Francona says that David Ortiz has been a victim of media criticism (maybe he should have been more careful with his use of vitamins and supplements) and that he deserves an apology.

Please take responsibility for your actions.  Obviously in 2009, they didn't do that.  They were all victims.  The entire team, including (as you'll see) their general manager, was from the 1990s.  I'm perfect.  If something bad happens to me, it's not that I F up.  It's because of bad luck or because it's someone else's fault.  I'm perfect.  I'm infallible.

And, of course, I'm smarter than you.

On September 30, 2009, Theo Epstein went on 98.5's Felger and Massarotti and started congratulating himself on a wonderful JD Drew contract.  "I thought you guys were gonna ask me about JD Drew having the second-highest OPS of all AL outfielders," he said.  This is a fact, however misleading, but instead of talking about how his team backed into the postseason, takes accountability for stuff like Lugo...or Drew in seasons 1 and 2...or any of the other mistakes he's made, he goes down that avenue.  Similar to all of his players, he thinks he deserves to be absolved of all blame, criticism, or objective analysis of his decisions, even if things go wrong.

Since then, they had a season in which they were in first place on July 3rd, then melted down, citing injuries instead of citing an ineffective closer, poor play by two of their starting pitchers, and a general manager who was unwilling to budge from the idea of the "bridge year."  We could get into blaming an ineffective medical staff, but I already devoted two posts in this late summer to that.

Then comes this year, when two large acquisions were made.  The team, and there were some legitimate seasons for it, was heralded as the best team in baseball history, then they failed to show up to play baseball in August.

Instead of accountability and saying the team is playing like crap, players were talking about how they're just starting to get their work in.  Cool.  You showed up to camp around Valentine's Day, so you had to wait until the games started to get yourselves acclimated to baseball.  No more golf.

Instead of citing overwork, lack of talent, showing up to shape fat habitually, and grooving pitches down the middle, you blame an elbow injury.

Instead of admitting that you got shelled and that your stuff is mediocre, you say you threw a series of great pitches (maybe except for one) and felt great.  This is Suck Patrick Denial.  You grimace at the umpires, you grimace at your fielders, you grimace at your manager, because you're a victim of their unfair treatment.  You say you don't want to blame problems in your personal life or your elbow, but you mention them anyway (which is kind of offering the excuses in the first place).

You blame a phantom "impinged shoulder" instead of your lack of any interest in playing.

You say the schedule is unfair because your pitchers have to hit instead of your lack of any interest in playing bad National League teams and racking up somewhat automatic wins.

You blame the bat that goes through your legs instead of actually going after the ball.

You blame the restrictive nature of your airplane seats instead of blaming your apathy toward playing certain games.

You blame a slew of injuries instead of the source of the injuries:  Being a fat drunk slob.

You blame a calf injury instead of saying you just don't feel like playing the rest of the game.  You hit a home run on that calf injury, but instead leave an incompetent player out there to make a game-blowing error.

You blame a sore shoulder on your poor performance instead of your lack of focus.  While doing so, you don't even have the balls to say it to the guys covering you everyday.

You blame the schedule and the rain and games that run too late for being unable to show up for the next afternoon's game - against the same teams who also experienced the rain delays.

You blame late nights of travel and lie down like a bunch of dogs instead of having a Red Bull and showing up to play in the face of any kind of adversity.

You blame the Little League park in which you had an ERA of 2.86, a run better than road games, in 2009.  Granted, your splits were not friendly in 2010 or 2011.  But your home/road splits were 2.86 versus 3.86.  But yes, you're a victim of the freaking ballpark, not a victim of failure to get the ball over the plate.

It's never your fault.  You're perfect.  If something goes bad for you, you're just a victim of extenuating circumstances.

Just like your general manager.  He's infallible.  He's smart.  Instead of owning up to his own error during a third of five mediocre/forgettable to bad seasons, he's talking about the second-highest OPS of all AL outfielders.  As they say, it rots from the head down.

8 comments:

The GM said...

Carl Crawford will get a post all for himself.

As my preferred medium is angry posts, the conclusion of How Youz Doin Baseball will be like the conclusion of a fireworks show. Cue the John Philip Souza.

Anonymous said...

DV

I feel like you and I are either the only ones who have the stomach to continue to watch these guys AND talk about the destruction every day, or we're the only ones who are lame enough to get worked up about it.

That said, they just keep finding different ways to lose. It has to be one of the worst Septembers in team history (the only one that would come close was in 2001 when the Sox were 17 games over .500 in August and by the middle of September they were under .500. Still, that free fall started in August). They are 5-16. 5-16!

At this point they still may make the playoffs because they have a 2.5 game lead with six to play. But even if they do, won't they just get swept? (Probably) Will any of the playoff games even be close? (Probably not).

As for the bulk of your post, the team has a lot of guys who aren't accountable. They have a lot of guys who aren't in the shape they should be. Instead of signing underachievers, maybe the Sox should look into guys who are regarded as being good character guys who stay in shape. You'd think that at $180 million you could put together that type of roster, but apparently not.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

Gunn, as soon as the stat heads invent a statistic for giving a shit (GAS, maybe?) Theo will load up Excel, type in the numbers, and crunch his way towards another free agent spending spree. We can only cross our fingers...but until then, you'll just have to ask about the statistical improbability of blowing such a lead on August 31.

Timc

Anonymous said...

Crazy thing is, sox are still in pretty good shape up 2 in the loss. Only problem is the yankees probably won't do them any favors. I would expect to see minor leaguers in most of the 4 games against tampa, and a legitimate effort against the sox this wknd. Not that that will preclude the sox from anything, as they owned the yankees this year and will presumably pick it up against baltimore next week, but at the very least it will probably be one more thing to overcome when things aren't going well as is.

- pf

Ross Kaplan said...

What DV, no post thanking the Yankees for keeping the Rays 2 back in the Wild Card? But seriously, the Rays now aren't the only team the Red Sox are watching on the scoreboard now that the Angels are now also 2.5 back who have an easier schedule the rest of the way if Texas is able to clinch the division this weekend.

the gm at work said...

I'll work backwards:

1. Tank, re-read my post from last week. Do I sound like someone who REALLY wants to watch another three nights of the 2011 Boston Red Sox playing baseball? Team deserves to lose the lead.

2. PF, if the Red Sox do anything better than get swept by NY this weekend, it's further evidence that there's a switch - and further evidence that they deserve to not make it to the playoffs.

3. Tim, I'm sure CARMINE already crunches that number. Why else would they have signed JD Drew five years ago? Want an answer to that rhetorical question: Go ask the captain.

4. Gunn, they were saying this on the radio last week, but there's a theory that Theo Epstein built this team in his own image. Bunch of guys who are committed to the long haul, don't get too far up (unless congratulating themselves), don't get too far down, and get their eight (not nine for f*****g sure) hours in so they can win exactly 95 games. Perhaps he should channel the Jose Contreras era Theo Epstein and get some guys who give a crap about winning and will trash a hotel room upon losing. They're all a bunch of smug pricks riding high and don't really need the Red Sox. They made their money and can go tour with freaking Pearl Jam whenever they goddamn want to.

Anonymous said...

At this point I do not want the Red Sox to make the playoffs. They do not deserve it and will get swept anyway. At this point you just want this team out of its misery.

Bandi

the gm at work said...

Bandi,

I kind of agree. In the last month, especially when previously-likable players like Crawford and Gonzalez started whining, this team crept up to the same level as the 2009 "No More Tears" team of dislikability.