Monday, October 3, 2011

I Can Do It Around The Clock...

I don't like it a little bit, I like it a lot.  Hell yeah, hell yeah, I like beer.

This is partially why Terry Francona had to go.  I can give you the preamble, and I actually agree with the preamble of the fact that Francona did a great job as the Red Sox' manager.  When he is in charge of a group of self-starting baseball players, his no-meddling, be-your-friend style is fantastic. 

When he's in charge of players who after winning a World Series, care more about an entire winter of going out to the bars instead of the pull-up bars, his style doesn't work. 
When his players drink beer in the clubhouse while the game is going on, creating a real sense of seriousness and focus on the task at hand, his style doesn't work. 
When his players are more concerned with Second Base Cup and the country club atmosphere that is more pronounced now than it has been in literally 45 years (source: Rico Petrocelli's book) than working on fundamentals, his style doesn't work.
When a starting pitcher fails to even saunter over to first base to cover the base, his style doesn't work.  The style of a manager who will pull him in the second inning when that happens works.  But that's not Terry Francona.
When a buffet table needs to be flipped over in April and again in late August, Terry Francona isn't the one who's going to do it.

Look, Terry Francona was an above-all advocate of the "not a sprint, a marathon" philosophy.  Never getting pumped about wins, never getting bummed about losses.  Urging players to never panic.  Not using your closer in the eighth inning, because that would be putting short-term goals in front of the goal of keeping him rested for October.  That's great, but as we saw, if you save it all for October a little too much, which he clearly did during that Toronto series and many times earlier in the season when Papelbon SHOULD have been put in for 5+ outs just so he could get used to the feeling, when it counts your players aren't ready.

In Game 162, Papelbon was not ready.  He was clearly not prepared to temper his compete level when he needed to.  His compete level was at a 12, and overthrowing the ball cost him - and the team, the game - and the opportunity to get absolutely shelled by Detroit because fat kids don't play baseball in October.

The entire attitude surrounding that clubhouse was poisonous.  And the manager has to take the fall for that, because maintaining an overarching attitude of a consistent effort - something that the Yankees clearly did this year - is his job.  Maintaining civility in the clubhouse, and an attitude of having each other's backs - somebody senior has to take leadership.  Varisuck LEADER LEADER C C LEADER INTANGIBLES C clearly wasn't doing anything about that.  It's the manager's job to regulate if senior members of the team cannot do it.

Instead, here is the kind of stuff that went down that Terry Francona failed to put an abrupt halt to:

-Whining about a competitive disadvantage against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
-Whining about the rain against the San Diego Padres.
-Getting shelled and saying you had a good game.
-Blaming it on a strike zone.
-Taking yourself out of a game due to a sore calf after hitting a home run on said sore calf.
-Taking yourself out of two games, including being unavailable to pinch hit, due to a sore back "suffered" on the team plane.
-Whining about bus rides.
-Getting away with questioning his decisions regarding the pitching staff.
-Getting away with questioning his decisions to bench crappy players against David Price by pouting and sitting out the next few games.
-Getting away with missing two months with a case of retirement anticipation AKA sore shoulder, sore finger, and sore neck.
-Having players prioritize personal stats (200 wins, 40 stolen bases) over winning games.  Can't wait for Carmine to recommend Jose Reyes this winter.
-Having Dustin Pedroia get away with anything because they're friends.  My dad once had a shirt saying "I'm not your friend, I'm your coach."  Francona should have embodied the back of that shirt.

I would like to throw in there that the only time I remember Francona crushing someone was when JD Drew asked out of a game when they were so short-staffed that Clay Buchholz had already been used as a pinch runner.

The fact that Francona failed to get thrown out of the game on several occasions to fire up his players was especially telling.  Joe Maddon got tossed in a game where Francona SHOULD HAVE gotten tossed.  Joe Maddon set an example, and so did Francona - the example of "hey, keep your cool.  No time to panic.  We're good enough (best team ever) to keep our cool and put it back together."

Well, sometimes, it's time to panic.  April was a time to panic.  September was a time to panic.  At a certain point, it's not about managing for Tim Wakefield's 200th win.  If he wanted his freaking win, he should have earned it.

This has been said by others, and now it's being said for me.  You cannot fire 37 out of the 40 members of that 40-man roster (although I might in a future post) who no longer listen to the manager.  Believe me, if I were actually the GM and had the choice between firing 1) Francona or 2) Beckett, Lackey, Buchholz, Lester, Wakefield, Matsuzaka, Miller, Wheeler, Jenks (twice), Morales, Albers, Bard, Varitek, Gonzalez, Aviles, Youkilis, Lowrie, Crawford, 46, Ortiz (twice), McDonald, AND Drew, not to mention Theo, Carmine, Cherington, Gammons, Curt Young, the entire medical staff, the entire strength and conditioning staff, the caterers, the dieticians, Tim Bogar, Lucchino (three times), Werner (twice), Michael Showalter from the show Schooled, Linda Pizzuti, and Henry (1.20 times because that's once plus 20%), I'd do the latter in a heartbeat.  But unfortunately, if the 34 plus the non-specific positions I mentioned cannot fit with the manager, it's easier to fire one guy than 50. 

I wrote a lot of this already when I said that Francona had become a "fat little girlfriend" who just told these guys how great they were and how easy it was going to be.  No enforcement of making people run a few laps and not get fat.  No enforcement of any rules of "take your job seriously."  No enforcement of benching guys who fail to do baseball fundamental stuff (cutoff men, routine fly balls, throwing the ball to first base, covering first base, not running into outs, not stealing third base with two outs in a one-run game with a .300 hitter up if you're the fastest person in baseball, and I could go on). 

It was the right move to make.

11 comments:

the gm at work said...

For the record, it's only natural to think about the sparse words Francona actually emitted and try to pinpoint exactly who he was talking about. He talked about players who had listened to him for many years, but stopped listening to him. You gotta think that's Ortiz he's talking about. Support from ownership? That's self-explanatory. Guys not having each other's backs? From what it sounds like, we're probably talking Youkilis and Beckett, and perhaps even Varitek after hearing those Crawford comments.

Speaking of Beckett and Varitek, by the way, the way, you gotta blame Francona for letting this guy be such a freaking baby about his catcher selection. Sorry, if you are so fragile emotionally that you need to have your boy behind the plate every single time you pitch, you should go home. Even Tim Wakefield found a way to come back after Doug Mirabelli left. What a freaking joke. And the fact that Francona said there'd be no personal catchers and that he was the boss before allowing this is further indication that he had absolutely no control. He was a fat little girlfriend. And his fat little boyfriend who cannot last a whole season without getting hurt, sucking for a month or two, or both, is a disgrace.

That's okay. Hell yeah, he likes beer.

Anonymous said...

The paragraph where dv mentioned possibly going into who he would like to see leave the organization in a future post, and then in the very next sentence mentioned every single person by name, might be the greatest paragraph in this site's history. The funniest part about it is that you know he's actually bothered by all the tv people from nesn and the random tv shows that they have, and that he probably sees these as baseball distractions, even in the smallest fractions, and thus finds them annoying. You assume he's ticked at the players, etc. But the fact that he's genuinely annoyed by all these peripheral contributors is incredibly awesome.

- pf

the gm at work said...

I missed Reddick. He's fired, too.

And my GPA was a gillion.

the gm at work said...

I don't know how it's funny or "incredibly awesome" that all this non-baseball garbage bothers the crap out of me. It's not that hard of a concept. Similar to the A-holes playing on the field, the focus in that front office has not been toward winning for a good seven years. For the Red Sox players, it's comfort, beer, or fantasy stats. For the front office, it's the portfolio that includes Carl Edwards's racecar team (that guy is a joke), Liverpool's soccer team, and #6.

Let's transpose it with something: On NESN there's Sox Appeal, then Pocket Money, then Schooled. That has no focus on winning and, in the first example, takes the focus off the stuff going on during a baseball game. On YES Network there's Yankeeography, celebrating the past success and tradition of winning baseball games. There's really not much more to say.

But hey, John Henry got home in time to watch the f*****g derby after bumping his head on his yacht. Good to see that his priorities are straight. He fires the only manager he's ever hired after eight years and decides to go Boats and Hoes afterwards. Professional. You dick. Glad to know you were up twenty percent last year. Do I care? No. I care that you finished in third place last year. And that's what your readers care about too.

Now I'm currently taking some of my thunder for a later post, so I'm going to stop. But this is funny how, funny like a clown? I make you laugh?

Ross Kaplan said...

YES actually used to have some original programming of its own (Ultimate Roadtrip, Yankees on Deck) but it was actually good.

the gm at work said...

Sorry, WHAT on deck? Wiffle ball on deck? Dating on deck? GPA is a gillion on deck? Cribs on deck? Second-rate soccer team on deck (sorry Tim C)? Exaggerated Boston accents for absolutely no reason on deck? Fever Pitch on deck? Moron from Billerica making terrible jokes on deck?

No.

YANKEES on deck.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

"But this is funny how, funny like a clown? I make you laugh?"

Was that a reference of Joe Pesci from Goodfellas? I hope so.

I don't have the same level of rage toward a lot of the NESN stuff that DV has (though I think it's stupid), but can certainly understand a lot of what is directed toward the team. If I have time over the next few days I might come up with a list of things that tick me off about this Red Sox and then can hijack the comments section of one of Pat's quotes. You can bet "God's will" (because God willed that they choked away a baseball wild card race and drank beers in the dugout during games) "I thought you were gonna ask me" , "One well hit ball in that inning" and what I call the I Vastly Overate Myself due to the Adulation of the Pinkhats Syndrone ("it's a real disease with doctor's and everything").

-Bandi

Anonymous said...

Should be 'Pat's posts' not Pat's quotes.. you get the idea.

ZWeiss said...

I love this post. As much as I hate to admit, Francona probably could have done SOMETHING to get these guys to shut the fuck up and play baseball. Tell Ortiz and Youkilis and Gonzalez to quit their bitching and win some goddamn baseball games. I hate to see Francona go, but I think it was necessary the way things had gone. I want to see a fucking general come in and whip these guys into shape. Angry posts to follow...

the gm said...

Bandi,

Of course it is. As I told Pat, if I were 100% paisan, I would pretty much be the character played by Joe Pesci in that movie. Alas, I have to settle for 25% paisan.

A good post to hijack would be whatever one-paragraph post he posts if and when his beloved Yankees win the World Series. I mean, Arod did that and it was okay with everyone's boy 46. So it must be an okay thing to do. Whenever you hijack, I am looking forward to it.

ZWeiss,

Your blog is the next generation and perhaps a place for How Youz Doin refugees to spend their mornings after we call it quits later this fall. I can't wait for the angry posts that will follow.

Anonymous said...

DV,

It's probably good that you're not too much like Pesci. You don't want to "get made" like he did at the end of the movie.

When I hijack Pat's post, I'll be sure to start with the standard line "Sorry to bury your post, but this is big news"

The news will then be 3 paragraphs of Oakland Raiders complaints and poorly thought out analogies, followed by 10 paragraphs of Red Sox rantings. Every time I mention the term "stain" everyone will get a free taco from Taco Bell.

Of course, this all assumes that PF will post again at some point in the future. At this point, PF is just a shadowy figure/legend that used to write on the blog, but now we only hear from him vicariously through the texts that he sends you that you happen to post. At the end of the day, we are vaguely aware of his existence, and we want to believe that he is there, but we are not sure. I think many of the worlds main religions started in this way.

Bandi