Monthly Archives: January 2006

Shhhhh!

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Don’t look now, but the Bruins have won five of seven and seven of eleven.

I am totally confident that I’ve just screwed everything up with that observation. Nevertheless, this conversation needs to be shared. Check out the snark on my mom!

Me: How long before Andrew Raycroft has Tim Thomas kneecapped?

My Mom: Well, Raycroft’s not in the position to do too much. Seeing as how he needs a seeing-eye dog to stop anything these days.

Hee.

As you were.

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The Once and Future GM

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(Please be getting us a shortstop, Theo)

So Theo’s the General Manager of the Red Sox again. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.

Anyone? Anyone?

Didn’t think so.

With Theo’s promotion (re-motion? Re-instatement?), co-GMs Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer (or the Two-Headed GM Monster, TM Annette), have been “reassigned” to roles as Vice President of Player Personnel and Assistant General Manager, respectively. Which, I’m guessing, is just fine with them.

The Globe’s article is filled with more doublespeak and circular rhetoric than Orwell’s 1984 but what it does make clear is the following:

Hoyer, 32, and Cherington, 31, both said they went into the jobs of co-GMs understanding that Epstein could well return.

”During our meetings with John, Tom and Larry in the days preceding our announcement as co-GMs, Ben and I were not only aware, but also quite hopeful, that this structure could pave the way for Theo’s return,” Hoyer said. ”We are thrilled that it has.”

[…]

Added Cherington: ”I was aware that by accepting the co-general manager position I was helping to ‘leave the light on’ for Theo’s eventual return. Since preserving the direction of our baseball operation is so important to me, I welcome Theo’s return as an opportunity to continue what we have started to build.”

This? I believe every word of. Who knows if Lucchino and Theo have buried the hatchet, so to speak? Who knows if Theo has “more autonomy” than any GM in baseball? Who knows if his new demands include an unlimited supply of Pearl Jam downloads from itunes and a private sauna room with Kelly the ball girl behind the Green Monster? These things we’ll probably never know. But I’m reasonably confident that we can all agree that Ben ‘n Jed aren’t blowing smoke when they said they’re glad Theo’s back.

Think of it this way: Let’s say they’d stayed co-GMs. And let’s say they’d pulled off some miraculous trade that netted us a top notch centerfielder or shortstop. Since we all suspected that Theo had spent his entire time “away” working in an advisory capacity anyway (confirmed in the Globe article, by the way), would anyone have given Jeddington (TM Annette) the proper credit for the coup? Would anyone have said, “Well done, lads! Excellent show!” No. No one would have. I’ll tell you what we would have said.

“Theo actually made the trade. He’s still working behind the scenes.”

“Those guys are just figureheads, Theo’s pulling all the strings.”

And the less charitable amongst us would probably condemn the trade, claiming that, “Theo wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on that one because he knows something. This’ll come back to bite us in the ass, just you watch.”

Now imagine what would happen if the entire team and 2006 season went to shit.

The wailing and gnashing of teeth would be unparalleled around these parts. The bell towers at Harvard and the steeples at the Old North Church would be filled with Red Sox fans crying to the heavens for Theo to come back. There’d be hysteria, the likes of which we’ve never seen.

Of course, if this all happens on Theo’s watch? It’s all good. Theo’s got a plan. As Sebastian would say, “Cool moss.”

So I’d say ole’ Ben and Jed dodged a major bullet with this one. Theo’s shoes are some mighty big ones to fill. So big, it appears, that the only person capable of filling them is, in fact Theo himself. This is not to say that Cherington and Hoyer are not capable, intelligent men possessing of shrewd baseball minds. I’m sure they are. I’m equally as sure that, had they been given the position of General Manager for real, rather than just as a formaility, they’d have done a better than average job. But exactly how much can one do when one knows they’re merely a placeholder? No fault or disrespect to them, but this was always bigger than Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer.

Look, you get lionized around these parts and you become a demi-God. Theo’s like David Ortiz. Theo’s like Curt Schilling. Theo’s like, well, he’s Theo. He’s reached a point where the only person you can compare him to is himself.

It’s not like the man never makes mistakes. I think we can all agree that the Renteria signing was, uh, not his finest hour. And he’ll make mistakes again. But in the end, we’re willing to overlook them because he’s Theo.

Whether this is good or bad remains to be seen. But it is what it is. And Red Sox Nation will sleep a little more soundly knowing that King Theo has been reinstated in his rightful position. And around these parts, calming down the fan base is a full time job.

Now, about that shortstop…

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Fall of The Two Jakes


A few open letters following today’s AFC and NFC Championship games:

Dear Steve Smith:

Shut up. Either catch the ball, throw some blocks or support your teammates. Those are your only options. You’ll notice in that list of choices you will NOT find: pouting, crying, whining or complaining like a little bitch. Comeback player of the year, my ass.

Love, The World

*****

Dear Baby Ben:

Well played. But dude? That mugshot? The one where you looked like some sort of drooling, bumbling spawn of a member of the Donner party and a tube of Brylcreem? Just…no. Don’t ever let them show that again.

Thanks for exposing Jake Plummer for the greasy, attitudinal fraud that he is. We appreciate that.

Take care of the AFC trophy. We’ll be wanting it back next year.

Sincerely, Patriots Fans

*****

Dear Jerome Bettis:

Your mamma kicks Donovan McNabb’s momma’s ass every day of the week and twice on Sundays. But seriously? Don’t be giving yourself a heart attack or anything. You’re likely the only person involved who’s, you know, happy to be going to Detroit (Sam, back me up on this). But I hope you enjoy it.

Regards, Kristen

*****

Dear Shaun Alexander: You’re like a slightly taller Barber Brother. And that’s a good thing. Carry on.

Yours, Kristen

*****

Dear Matt Hasselbeck:

Evidently, you grew up with a mini-Green Monster in your backyard. I approve of this. This is enough of a reason for me to cheer for you next week. Also, you’re not the Steelers.

Love, Kristen

*****

Dear Jake Plummer:

You suck. Thanks for letting us all know. Again. But look at it this way, you’ll have all offseason to challenge Ricky Williams to a Duel of the Fungus-like Neck Beards. Enjoy.

Love, The World

*****

Dear Bill Cowher:

Please don’t ever attempt to smile again. You’re scaring the children.

Sincerely, Kristen

*****

Dear Seattle Seahawks:

The Super Bowl? Win it.

Thanks much,
Kristen

*****

And now a word on Theo: I don’t care what all the talking heads or the mediots or the columnists try to tell me, I’m happy about it. I don’t care if Theo spent his two and a half month vacation touring with Pearl Jam, going on vision quests with the Dali Lama or running a meth lab in his Brookline basement, he’s back and I’m all for it.

Annette pointed me in the direction of one of the best articles I’ve read on the topic.

What I like about this column is the discussion of the fact that it may have been a breakdown in idealogy that caused the rift between Theo and the front office. Annette and I discussed:

Me: That is a fanstastic article. And I think, more than anything what this proves is how powerful Theo is. Not just in baseball manuevers but in name recognition and in calming down the fan base. And, it appears, the front office. They want him there. We want him there. He wants to be there. And he’s learned he can call the shots. But that’s fine. That’s what everyone – save for Lucchino – wants. We want to know who’s in charge. And until he screws up irreparably, we trust him.

Annette: Well, what I found fascinating about the article was the first placement of a vision on a single person. We’ve been watching the (somewhat) bizzare moves this offseason, right? Well, if the article is true and the 2007-2010 stretch is indeed what Theo wants, wanted all along, and he has indeed been directing things behind the scenes, then this offseason makes a HELL of a lot more sense. We’re going to suck in 2006. But at least the sucking in 2006 is part of some sort of master plan. That is why Theo comforts me. He would say things like, “Don’t worry, we HAVE A PLAN.” The rest of the front office is all “No, for real, we’re not fucking up. No seriously. We’re NOT. We did this because, um, well. Shut-up”. If we’re going for GREAT in 2010, well, then JD doesn’t make much sense, does he? Manny and Trot will be done with their contracts by then too. But our prospects will be hitting their prime, our pitching kids will hitting their primes, and the free agent market in those years is going to be a hell of a lot better than it was this off season.

Me: And the thing is, as long as this is part of a major plan, I’m okay with us sucking in 2006. I’m not going to say I’ll enjoy it, but it sure will take some of the pressure off, right? I mean, just think of all the fun and good times we can have with Imaginary Baseball World when we’re 26 1/2 games out in August!

Annette: That’s just it. So long as it’s part of some plan, the vast majority of Boston fans are going to be cool with it. And the ones that aren’t weren’t true fans to begin with anyhow, you know?

Exactly.

Oh, and now apparently we have a centerfielder. Nice. I like this for two reasons: 1) We, uh, kinda need a centerfielder. And 2) It’s going to take Manny until at least the All-Star Break to stop pouring milk on Crisp at the postgame spread and wondering why he doesn’t taste like Cocoa Puffs when he bites into him.

Look at that? Imaginary Baseball World is already entertaining.

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Return of the King

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Okay, who had two and a half months in the poll?

More later, lest I jinx it.

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All Good Things…

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(photo from Boston.com)

Pretty sure I signed up to watch the Patriots play a divisional playoff game yesterday. I didn’t realize we were going with understudies. Or 8-year-olds. Or, you know, cardboard cutouts with oven mitts for hands. Because I don’t know what that was, but I know it wasn’t Patriots football.

Look, I understand that The Most Bullshit Call In History (TMBCIH for short) was not the reason the Patriots lost the game. It sure as hell didn’t help and I’m seriously still trying to figure out how defensive pass interference can be called on an uncatchable ball but… Okay, but nothing, I’ve run out of words to talk about that bullshit. But I will grant that it’s not the reason the Patriots lost.

The Patriots lost because they shot themselves in the foot. Multiple times. Five turnovers does not a playoff win make. They know this. And I assume they would be the first people to admit this. I assume, you see, because I turned the television off after Brady threw that last interception. Call me a bad fan if you want, but I can’t stand to see my team fall apart like that. I can’t watch the wheels come off, even when I know it’s happening.

But in the end, it’s okay. I mean, losing is never okay, but all things considered, it’s all right. I am still, after everything, very proud of the way things went down this year. With a Pro Bowl’s worth of players on injured reserve, the insanely tough schedule to start the season, the loss of both coordinators and multiple issues, the team honestly did better than I expected. Tom Brady is for real, yo. And the Patriots aren’t going anywhere. As long as we have Belichick and Brady, we’ll be competitive. I have lots of faith in their future.

And speaking of going nowhere. Well, the Colts. Which is, I don’t know, amusing anyway. Colleen will disagree with me but the Colts, blech. I felt dirty cheering for the Steelers because y’all know I have NO love lost for them, but, hell, I have friends who are Steelers fans. At least they’re happy. Oh, and for the record? Hi, yeah, that was so an interception by Polamalu, you incompetent jackasses. Just, you know, if we’re playing by the rules. Always nice to Mike “Did you see my diamond stud? I am SO trying out for a boy band in the offseason” Vanderjagt honk an important field goal. Always nice.

And so here we are, watching some relatively meaningless football and whiling away the days until spring training. At least we have the Bruins. Oh, wait…

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Blinding Rage

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A rough approximation of the view from my house.

My brain is not currently processing words with more than four letters. If I ever calm down, I’ll chime in. Until then, I want Rodney Harrison to kill someone with a crutch just to prove a point. That might make me feel better. I sincerely hope the refs don’t spend all that money in one place. Not that the Pats are playing, you know Patriots football. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers routine isn’t helping. But, well…rage.

*stomps off to destroy a small village*

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Everybody Loves Raymond

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(Exactly)

Look, I realize that I am not a terribly patient person. Probably less so when it comes to my local sports teams and their apparent desire to do well. However, I think I’ve been MORE than fair with the Bruins this season. In fact, I’ve been more than fair to the Bruins over the last few seasons. You know, back when they bowed out in an excrutiating seven game series to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, and then last year when there was no season to be had. But they came back this year, and so did I. But I’ll tell you what, I. Have. Had. Enough.

6-0 to the Kings last night. 6-0. That’s not a hockey score, that’s a slaughter. Raycroft can’t stop a shot to save his life (second verse, same as the first), there’s evidently some kind of repellant force field around the opposing team’s net and coach Mike Sullivan stands behind the bench with his arms crossed and his lips pursed as though he’s waiting to be handed a pink slip.

And you know what? I think it’s time. Give him that pink slip. And while you’re at it, give one to GM Mike O’Connell as well. When the Bruins traded captain Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks I wrote that it reeked of a desperation move. And while it wasn’t quite the sturm und drang I’d predicted, it wasn’t the apparent shake-up they were hoping for either. The more things change…

So now it’s time to really make a change. Do something drastic (but not unwarranted). Fire the coach. Fire the GM. Get someone new in there. Or, as The Rick said when I called last night to inquire as to whether anyone has tested Raycroft lately for peripheral vision failure, somebody old. “Everybody loves Raymond,” he said.

“That’s true,” I replied, “Everbody does.”

“Well come on,” my dad said, “he can’t make it any worse. And they need someone to get the fans back into the seats and caring about the game.”

“But do you really think Bourque could do it?” I said, “I mean, has he ever coached?”

On the television, Raycroft made an easy save and the sarcastic applause from the crowd was audible.

“You know what?” I said, “Good idea. Can’t make it any worse.”

So it’s time. It’s time to make some changes. Don’t trade Samsonov or Bergeron as some outlets have been predicting. It’s way too late in the season for a rebuilding year and trading away your youthful stars for grizzled veterans is not a step in the right direction. Keep those guys around to lead the team two, three, four years down the road. But clean house. Start with the front office. I’m sure Sullivan and O’Connell are nice men. But they don’t know how to run a hockey team. And they haven’t for quite some time. It’s time to let them go. Try something new. Try someone new. Or, as my dad says, someone old.

But it’s time.

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