Friday, September 30, 2011

What's the Sabermetric Acronym for Cowardice?

Confronted with catastrophe, the Boston Red Sox, eager to boast of their status as a 21st century baseball franchise run on the most rigorous statistical and business school analytics, reverted to the oldest, stalest, most futile decision in the sport -- they dumped their manager.

And because this IS the Henry-Lucchino-Werner Red Sox, Terry Francona can't be let go with a "it was just time for a change after eight great years." No, there has be some professional character assassination thrown in, because otherwise, people might think that the men who assembled the team that had the worst stretch collapse in baseball history bore some responsibility for its failure.

I just turned off Channel Five, where Mike Lynch presented the following time line. Theo Epstein is alleged to have told ownership BEFORE September that Francona had lost control of the clubhouse (whatever that means, nobody's ever given me a definition) and he couldn't work with him any more. Then, again according the timeline, ownership voted to let Francona go two weeks ago.

Let me be blunt. I think that's a lie, and the person or persons who fed Lynch that story are liars. In fact, it's the exact same lie the Sox told about Francona's predecessor back in 2003. We didn't fire Grady for leaving Pedro in too long in Game Seven. We'd been unhappy with him since June. That was obvious bull, and so is this. It is revisionist history that'd make Stalin proud. Look for Tito's picture to be erased from those 2004 and 2007 championship videos that'll be hawked on the team Web site come Christmastime.

Owners and general managers outrank managers. If the manager is doing or not doing something and they're displeased, they can and should tell him what they want, not sit and stew and let a bad situation get worse.

And of course, that's just what owners and general managers DO do, at least in my experience. Multizillionaires and GMs with their jobs on the line are unwilling to suffer in silence. Except, apparently, Henry, Epstein et. al. They'd rather bitch behind a guy's back after they fire him. That's the kind of behavior that gets a person's ass kicked for them in junior high, and you know, I bet a few of the Sox management team are familiar with that very scenario.

I will believe the story on Channel Five only if Terry Francona himself confirms it. And even if it were true, the people who told it stand revealed as cowards. If you think a manager is hurting your ballclub, you have a moral duty to the franchise, its players and its fans to fire the skipper immediately and stand the gaff.

But the story's not true. At best, it's one part truth to one trillion parts spin. And leaking it reveals the Sox top brass as folks one wouldn't consider having in one's home. Firing Francona is not by itself a good or bad deed. At worst, it's just another of the lengthening list of mistakes of 2011.

But the little morality tale I was fed on TV, that has weight. The people who told it, and there couldn't be anybody but Henry & Co. who did, are despicable excuses for humans. Decent people should cross the street to avoid them.

Red Sox fans, it's not your fault the people who run your team are such sneaky shits. Go on ahead and keep on rooting for the home team. You might want to reconsider giving the sneaks so much of your money, though.


At 9:25 PM, Blogger Rich said...

Great post, Mike. I agree 100% on this.


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