Wednesday, October 5, 2011
There ain’t no ‘we’ in Chokeville
By Howie Carr
Friday, September 30, 2011 - Updated 5 days ago
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What a shocker. I mean, WE were doing so great until Sept. 3. And then THEY had a worse September than Rick Perry.
There is no joy in Shillville.
Worst choke in baseball history, even worse than the Braves this year, the Braves who used to play in Boston, which as someone said yesterday proves that you can take the Braves out of Boston, but you can’t take the Boston out of the Braves.
Everyone chant together, “We’re number three! We’re number three!”
I guess the cream of the Boston sporting press is going to have to find some new rear ends to kiss. “Beanpot Fever Grips Hub!” Prepare for three months of enthralling sports talk.
Host No. 1: “I love Tom Brady [stats].”
Host No. 2: “I love Tom Brady more than you do — I got a lock of his hair when he went to the barbershop!”
Host No. 1: “I got two locks of his hair!”
Host No. 2: “Rah-rah-”
Host No. 1: “Sis-boom-bah.”
But don’t worry. By February, WE’ll have the best team in baseball again. Every jock-sniffer in the city will agree, just like they do every year. Just like the Patriots[team stats] are a dynasty, even though the last time THEY won a Super Bowl was the year George Bush was re-elected.
The clue on the Red Sox [team stats] should have been that the Yankees always have players with nicknames such as “Mr. October.” The Red Sox are full of “Mr. Mays,” and I don’t mean Willie.
You know how much fun it is to go to Fenway when WE’re winning. But it’s horrible to pay $30 to park when THEY start losing. WE were so smart to get Carl Crawford last winter, but now it looks like THEY wasted $142 million.
It was like a morgue in some hotbeds of Red Sox worship yesterday. I know, I’m writing this column from a place where seldom — make that never — is heard a discouraging word about THEM. I would have taken some of the mourners out to lunch, but I was afraid they’d make like their heroes and ... choke.
Now the pom-poms are put away. The fatties are looking for their 3-XL Tom Brady No. 12 sweatshirts. Honestly, it would take a heart of stone not to laugh at these guys living in their moms’ basements, calling the shows at midnight, their voices cracking, demanding that baseball add more wild-card teams so the Red Sox could get in. ...
One sweatshirt you won’t see much of for the next few months — No. 58. That belongs to baseball’s best reliever (according to the Red Sox hagiographers), Jonathan Papelboneinhisthroat.
To everyone in Shillville, I leave you with one thought. WE didn’t lose, THEY did.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
These Sox not good fit
September 28, 2011|By Brian McGrory, Globe Columnist
So I found myself standing on the upper deck of the Tobin Bridge Monday night, the lights not yet dim at Camden Yards after another Red Sox loss to the vaunted Baltimore Orioles, when the oddest question started slipping through my mind.
Am I really that upset?
The rest of the world thinks I should be. Talk radio explodes with callers cursing the gods of baseball for doing this to Boston all over again. The New York Times, owned by my corporate master, is giddily describing Boston’s “hard-luck loser legacy,’’ and I hope they’re not referring to the Globe. Even The Wall Street Journal said that all of Boston is, and I quote, “freaking.’’
There’s just one small problem with all this: I’m not cursing, I’m not “freaking,’’ and I don’t much feel like a loser because this collection of overpaid underachievers hasn’t exactly gotten the job done at Fenway Park. In some ways, in many ways, the epic September collapse is exactly what we needed to realize just how far the Red Sox have gone astray.
Let me put it another way: If you’re whining, moaning, wailing, or crying, get yourself a grip. This store-bought team never reflected Boston. It never paid homage to what the city and the Red Sox have traditionally been. This team, in short, never had a story and never had a narrative arc. If it did, it would read as follows: We should win more games because we spent more money.
That’s not Boston. It’s not who or what we are. New Englanders, by nature, are a thrifty lot, that thriftiness being the byproduct of our Pilgrim heritage or our Irish angst, or maybe both. We don’t like waste. We generally avoid glitz. Rather, we revel in overcoming obstacles, quieting doubters, achieving goals that many people, even ourselves, might have considered out of reach. It’s why this collapse has been far more fascinating than frustrating.
Think about it. We live in a perfectly miserable climate four months of the year, but that weather gives us a greater appreciation for what summer and autumn bring. We toiled in the fields of baseball futility for 86 years hoping the Red Sox would win, and when they finally did, in 2004, it felt all the sweeter for the wait.
But the Red Sox of 2011 is basically a suit that never fit. Beacon Hill doesn’t waste as much money as this team, what with J.D. Drew ($14 million a year), John Lackey ($17 million), Carl Crawford ($20 million), and Daisuke Matsuzaka ($8.7 million plus a $51 million posting fee), and that doesn’t even include the oldies but goodies like Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, and Mike Cameron.
Not to press the point, but three basically inconsequential players - Drew, Lackey, and Crawford - make more per year than the entire roster for the Tampa Bay Rays.
What’s frustrating is this team had, in fact, a natural, charismatic core of homegrown talent, between Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, and Daniel Bard, as well as David Ortiz, plucked off the bargain table years ago and now as Boston as the Pru.
But the insatiable appetite for more, bigger, better, ruined it all this year. In our blind zeal for success, we created a monster of a team without any deep or broad appeal, as one blogger noted, “the worst team money can buy.’’
If the players had any adversity to overcome, it was how the imported superstars would manage all that undeserved money in a volatile stock market. Maybe that’s what’s distracted them this month.
The reality is, anything can still happen in these final hours of the regular season, and maybe this self-inflicted crisis is exactly what the players need to rise from the depths and create a memorable October. God knows, they have the talent.
But barring that, these Red Sox, unintentionally and inadvertently, did their fan base an invaluable favor. They reminded us who we are by showing us what we’re not.
Brian McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.
As LeBron James recently said, it is only entertainment and a DISTRACTION FROM THE REAL WORLD and certainly not worth all the emotional investment.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I’M A former Clevelander, and I would agree with Gary Washburn that LeBron James needs a good public relations consultant. But I had a very different interpretation of the quote for which Washburn criticized James (“An expensive distaste for James,’’ Sports, June 14). It sounded less like James was flaunting his wealth and success and more like he was pointing out that basketball is just a game and that whether he wins or loses won’t change anyone’s life. In other words, James was saying that fans need to get some perspective.
Take it for what it is: entertainment, and a distraction from, as James put it, the “real world.’’
Elliott Negin, Washington
Today, I ran into a woman who lives in my building and always wears a White Sox cap. We said to her, "We always remember who you are because of the cap." I was quick to add that I like the White Sox; in fact I like any team that isn't the Red Sox. She heartily agreed. I said, "I used to be a huge sports fan when I was a kid, but Boston fans ruined it for me."
ONCE UPON a time, there were
Our parents and grandparents had Fenway Park. They had Yawkey and Cronin, Ted and Yaz, Pudge and Piersall, Boggs and Clemens. They had Slaughter’s Dash, the Impossible Dream, Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner, the Phantom Tag, and Aaron Boone.
They also had a rival — someone to measure themselves against, a “them’’ for our “us.’’ While our Red Sox were always one player short, one strike away, the
For eight decades, that’s what it was to be a Red Sox fan. Blame it on John Calvin, but that storyline resonated for New Englanders. It made sense to us, and we embraced it even as we prayed that it might change.
And then it did! The Red Sox broke the so-called Curse, turned the tables on the Yankees, and won their first title in 86 years. Then they won another one!
And although we realized at the time this changed everything, that this would transform what it means to be a Red Sox fan, only now is the long-term impact becoming clear:
The Red Sox have become the Yankees. And we have become Yankee fans.
But let’s not blame the 2004 Red Sox. Winning that championship only confirmed a long-running trend. Over the past 20 years, first the Yawkey Trust and now John Henry’s ownership group figured out how to leverage our enormous passion for this team. We’ve been monetized. As a result, Fenway Park became the most expensive venue in Major League Baseball, with that revenue going to support one of the highest payrolls in the game.
It’s not just a question of making more and spending more. The Red Sox joined the Yankees as the bullies in the playground. They, and the other big-market teams, not only accumulated the resources to dominate the free-agent market and strip the poorer teams of their stars; they discovered that the free-agent draft, supposedly the great equalizer, could be rigged by offering higher bonuses to supposedly “unsignable’’ stars headed off to college. Without a salary cap in place, baseball has become a game in which the rich get richer, and the uneven playing field tilts another degree or two with each passing year.
Like the Yankees, the Red Sox don’t win championships so much as buy them. Like Yankee fans, we dig deep to support our team — and in return, we expect something. Our parents and grandparents expected only to have their hearts broken. We expect to win.
Well, we got what we paid for. But by adopting the Yankees’ methods, we gave away our souls. And we will never recapture them as long as revenue streams are more important than good scouting, hard work, and fair play.
This newfound kinship with our former rivals became clear to me earlier this season, as I sat in the grandstand and listened to the so-called Fenway Faithful booing Carl Crawford. The team’s new left fielder was three weeks into a seven-year, $142 million contract, and he’d had the misfortune to get off to a slow start. Nobody was more upset about this than Crawford — a terrific athlete, a hard worker, a standup guy — but the crowd was pitiless.
And what else could we expect? A family of four sitting in the Monster seats could easily drop $800 taking in a ballgame. We expect bang for our bucks.
On that October night in 2003 when Aaron Boone homered off Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox trudged off the field for the 85th consecutive year, many New Englanders must have wondered: what it would be like to win these games? To beat the Yankees? To win the World Series?
A year later, we knew the answer. Eight years later, we see the price that we have paid.
Was it worth paying?
Go ask your parents.
Michael Rutstein is publisher of Boston Baseball