Tuesday, April 17, 2012
In the movie "Swordfish", John Travolta comments about the importance of misdirection. He couldn't be more right about the current state of affairs of the Boston Red Sox.
It seems misdirection comes from all sides, players with an entitlement mentality, absentee ownership, and a manager struggling to imprint his brand on a wayward ship.
Even the hero in our story, Dustin Pedroia, reduces himself saying "that's not the way we do things here." In fact, that's exactly how we got to this disturbing place, players dismissing the manager, and ownership bringing a 'task-oriented' manager instead of a 'relationship oriented' skipper.
We hear how players are concerned about 'snitches'. In other words, professionalism matters less than protecting each others' reputations.
Nobody likes to be criticized. And worse than criticism of performance, impugning one's attitude or "commitment" gets our attention.
The manager's job is to get the best performance out of the players. No doubt that a great "process" is required to get the best outcome. But a seven win September last season argues that the laissez-faire, 'boys will be boys' approach no longer worked.
The question (for a team with a bloated payroll and several seasons of underachievement) becomes what approach will work?
Reminding us that you won championships in 2004 and 2007, or that your career met certain standards in a certain timeframe begs the eternal baseball question, so nicely put by Janet Jackson "what have you done for me lately?"
One should be careful about making judgments based on small sample sizes. We can't know whether the Red Sox are more like the team that lost five or its first six or won three out of four from Tampa. Good baseball teams have bad streaks and mediocre ones have good ones. That caveat goes doubly for players. Kevin Youkilis was, over a three year period, one of the top offensive players in baseball. Over the past couple of seasons, injuries took their toll.
We can't, and shouldn't project a season's worth of production from a handful of games. On the other hand, those who watch the Sox regularly, wonder whether we should believe our hearts or our lying eyes.
Your job, should you decide to accept it, is to win baseball games. Whether you win that with Kumbaya or a Billy Martinesque dugout brawl, we don't really care. But presenting yourselves as a club of whiners, with hurt feelings (and an average salary of seven million dollars), that dog don't hunt.