Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Terry Francona, Fat Little Girlfriend

"Now, their fat little girlfriends have some obvious advantages. For one, their fat little girlfriends are telling them what they want to hear, which is how great you are and how easy it’s going to be."
-Mike Leach, October 2009, after his Texas Tech team lost to a three-touchdown underdog.

Terry Francona is a "fat little girlfriend."  As you can see in the post below and in this post, he's not the manager anymore; David Ortiz is.  Terry Francona does exactly what the fat little girlfriends at Texas Tech did.  He lets these guys get away with anything, and he deserves more than his fair share of blame for this Red Sox month-long coast.  All season, he's been telling this team how great they are and how easy it's going to be. 

Even when he was asked about the playoff rotation and he channeled Jim Mora, he was joking about the possibility that his team might not make the playoffs.  He's taking the regular season as seriously as the rest of these pampered whiners.  Maybe at some point he's going to realize that it's not so much of a freaking joke anymore.

Here's an idea:  Less cribbage with Dustin Pedroia.  You're supposed to be their manager, not their friend.
Here's an idea:  No more dicking around with the Wakefield thing.  How about letting the player earn his 200th win by lasting five innings?
Here's an idea:  If David Ortiz is healthy enough to play the next day with a sore back, pinch hit him the night before.  This pussy had a sore back after sleeping wrong on the plane.  That's okay, it's a marathon so you can let the inmates run the asylum.
Here's an idea:  Stop pitching Kyle Weiland.  It's about winning games, not getting the kid confidence. 
Here's an idea:  If Daniel Bard clearly doesn't have it, don't give him thirty pitches to choke away any games.  Let the spoiled brat in the bullpen come in for four outs.  At least get him freaking ready to make it look like you're paying attention.  Tonight he's pitching in the eighth for the third time all year.  It's okay, because when you're the Best Team Ever, it's going to be easy and you'll never have to dig deep.  It's a marathon, not a sprint.
Here's an idea:  When the above happens once, learn from your mistake.  Seeing that Papelbon is pitching now, it took not one, but TWO losses for his manager to wake up.
Here's an idea:  How about getting Papelbon mentally prepared for a 4- or 5-out save BEFORE MEANINGFUL GAMES so that it's not foreign territory when it counts!

Hey, it's okay because Red Sox fans still sang about the 9-year-old girl on a horse in the middle of the eighth.

Francona's Bigelow Green Tea consumption has clearly made him completely unable to manage this baseball team.  Guess what:  It's not the 2004 team anymore.  It's not a bunch of guys who want to win, make history, or really do anything except for go through the motions.  This was evident when they showed up ill-prepared to play in April and when they took the interleague season off by dropping hideous series to San Diego and Pittsburgh. 

The 2004 team could discipline itself.  There were a couple of overpaid prima donnas, but their egos were large enough that they wanted to be part of the team that made history.  Those guys cared enough to be compatible with a player's manager instead of a hard-ass. 

This team, and essentially every team since the 2009 group of whiners, needs someone to drive the ship.  Of course, the Red Sox are a little unclear about that, as they have their designated hitter giving advice to the general manager ("WAAAH, WE NEED A POWER BAT!"), the manager while filling out his lineup card ("WAAAH, I DON'T WANT TO BE MOVED DOWN IN THE ORDER!"), and now the manager as he designs his PITCHING rotation ("WAAAH, START ACEVES, WEILAND SUCKS!").  There's also an additional boss on this boat because the backup catcher has this idiotic "Captain" designation.  Too many people are driving the ship.

As a result, what you see is your left fielder last year complaining about not playing center and taking his time to return from a questionable injury because his feelings were hurt.  You have a starter showing up his teammates and his manager.  You have a third baseman talking about the competitive disadvantage his $180 million team has against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  You're complaining about scheduling and your second baseman, once heralded as gritty and competitive, downplaying the significance of being in first place.  Yup, it's as long as you're backing into the last spot on September 28th.  And you have John Lackey.

You have a bunch of guys paid much more than the average player who are not playing to potential, are failing to play fundamental baseball (Lackey covering first base, Crawford's lack of slide, Aviles's two caught stealings, 46's inexplicable caught stealing, and, if you want to go back to last year, Drew's fate-sealing web gem in foul territory last year), all show up to spring training fat, lazy, and out of shape, and fail to make the playoffs.  On the radio they talk about a "country club attitude," which is evident because "Second Base Cup" was a spring training event on NESN.  Good to know the whole organization is focused on the right stuff during training camp.  All Chad Johnson's doing is Twittering.  At least he's not golfing.

This has happened before with the "Gold Sox:"  The 1960s.  And those teams SUCKED under their player's manager up until they hired Dick Williams who was, by all accounts, exactly what his first name suggested.  They were not untalented.  But they were unmotivated.  And here we are, 45 years later, and they're right back to where they started.  But at least Caroline Kennedy's in her fifties now and not nine.

Under Francona, golf is the top priority in February and March.  A faraway, nebulous October is the top priority in April, deemphasizing the games at hand.  Yankees games and AL games are more important than Pittsburgh and San Diego games, so those games don't matter.  Losing first place in August to the Yankees in a weekend series determining who's starting the final third in first place is mundane enough to have your former MVP mock its importance.  Two hundred wins means more than one win.  Health and rest take priority over the ultra-risky four-out save in June or July.  Forty stolen bases is better for your contract than not making outs and tying up baseball games.  When you have an 11-game lead, it's in the bag and it's about locking up the third-starter spot.  It's about saving face with the national media by starting to chat up a shoulder injury. 

Winning has not been a priority for this team.  This is a reflection of the manager.

And now that it is, they're not ready for it.  This is also a reflection of the manager.

The whole time, the manager's job has partially been keeping this team focused.  But instead the manager is corroborating their toothless excuses for sucking, is covering for them when instead they should be accountable, and is enabling them to prioritize the wrong stuff, because he is reinforcing the notion that they're the Best Team Ever.  He's telling them what they want to hear, how great they are, and how easy it's going to be.

Terry Francona is the Fat Little Girlfriend that all these babies want.  But it's not what the Gold Sox need.

5 comments:

the gm at work said...

Okay, so this post is over 1,200 words long and not once did I mention the fact that he's even failed to get himself thrown out of a game. Way to be fired up, intense, and dedicated to winning.

Due to the length, I might leave this post open for two days, who knows.

Best team ever.

the gm at work said...

Also, guys, my GPA was a gillion. Buy a brick. And don't forget the bridal fair on Sunday or Spooky World on October 28th.

Anonymous said...

DV

I would rather have Kyle Weiland start than John Lackey. By a long, long shot. John Lackey should be released. Normally I'd say that as a reverse jinx (in the same way we talked about Ortiz in 2009 and 2010) before he turned up the heat and started hitting. Except Lackey gives up as many runs as he gets outs. He's the worse free agent signing of the last decade. I challenge you to find someone worse (Carl Crawford, off in the distance, covers his face).

The Sox have been terrible for the last four weeks. They haven't won consecutive games since August 27th. They have dropped three fly balls in the past three games, which cost the Sox two wins in a little more than 24 hours. The pitching has been awful. The bats show up all at once or not at all. In short--they are playing as poorly as they possibly can. They cannot be any worse. If the playoffs started today they would be in and they would get swept. They have no shot right now.

All we can do as fans is hope that things change. Is this as bleak a situation as the 2004 ALCS? Is it as bad the winter after the 2006 debacle? Is it on par with the mess they were in in July of 2008?

Honestly, this is as bummed out as I've been to be a Sox fan since August of 2006. Right now we have no reason to expect anything good from this team. And there are a million reasons to be frustrated and down right angry with them (all the reasons you mentioned in your post). But being a sports fan is supposed to be fun. And as much as John Lackey, Carl Crawford, and the general shittiness of this team are trying to rob us of that enjoyment, all we can do is hope for the best. Do I think that the Sox will win tonight? No. Do I think they'll make the playoffs? No. But do I think they CAN win tonight? That they CAN turn it around and get hot and make the playoffs? Yes, I do. And that's what I'm going hope happens.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

First of all, thank you for your sympathy rant there. I envision this comments section to be a repository for such commentary pretty much until we reach the end of the road in a few weeks. A hypothetical: If this team actually does back in to the postseason, turns the switch on, and wins the World Series, is it still justified to put everyone on blast for what we have witnessed for the past three and a half weeks? I hope so, because what we've seen for this time period is indicative of an organization-wide problem. I can imagine myself, for the final week of the regular season and throughout the first round of the playoffs, continue to emit unfiltered rants similar to the 1,250 words in this one.

Tomorrow's task: The beginning of the end of accountability. Gotta tease the next post.

I think the winter of 06-07 is probably the last time I felt this way about this team. I guess it ended up being a good thing, because HYD may never have happened had that unconscionable offseason never happened.

Anonymous said...

DV

If they turn it around and win the World Series it's the ultimate indication that this team is either the streakiest team ever or that they are motivated when they want to be. And even after 162 games and the potential of playoff games I still wouldn't know where I stand.

As for what's happened this month, regardless of how the season plays out you can't defend the players. You CAN defend Francona (he's only throwing out there the guys he has--he doesn't give them contracts and he isn't responsible for keeping them in shape. He isn't their father and can't be held accountable for why so many of them are dangerously soft). Now I realize you are critical of Francona for what boils down to personality traits, but he is who he is. 2004, 2006, and 2008 all had extraordinary developments that Francona handled particularly well. He is not flawless, but he is the best Sox manager by a solid margin since I've been a fan. This year blowing up may have been productive. But that's not who he is and probably wouldn't have seemed genuine if he had.

As for the players--you can absolutely blame Darnell McDonald for losing the first game of the double header. You can blame Josh Reddick for costing the Sox three runs last night (and the game). You can blame John Lackey for being the worst starting pitcher in baseball. You can blame Carl Crawford for having one of the five worst outfield seasons in Red Sox history. No doubt about. No matter how this season turns out it doesn't excuse those developments.

--the Gunn