Wednesday, March 09, 2005

MANDATORY RETIREMENT

Nothing beats a Red Sox-Yankees match-up (even if it’s basically the Columbus Clippers versus the PawSox). But, let’s make a new mandatory rule for all Red Sox fans: it’s time to retire the banal, crude, and loser-tinged shout-out of YANKEES SUCK.

Let’s make one thing clear first and foremost: it was embarrassing, it is still embarrassing, and it will always be embarrassing. The Yankees do not suck. They won twenty-six World Series championships. Do I care for them or root for them? Of course not. But I respect them. I wish a lot of those guys were in the blue and red of Boston, but to say they suck is ridiculous. The Devil Rays, a traditionally inept team, they you could get away saying they suck. But I think inept fits them better.

YANKEES SUCK is the shout-out of loserdom. We are not losers. We were star-crossed, not like Romeo and Juliet done in by external forces outside their control, but more like Richard, done in by poor management at an executive level and not properly taking care of matters in-house. Every crushing Red Sox defeat can be traced back upstairs. This is not to excuse the players on the field, but didn’t we learn that the result installing the smartest management and solid owners for the Red Sox and Patriots seemed to lead directly to…championships?

The Red Sox of 1986 lost the World Series for a number of reasons beyond Johnny Mac’s sentimentality and leaving Bill Buckner in the game. It goes beyond his taking out Roger Clemens (whether or not he asked out will always be in dispute). Where was the pre-season signing or mid-season trade for a closer? That certainly was taken care of in 2004. Where was ability to manufacture a run when necessary in 1986? Think back to ninth inning of game four of the ALCS for most famous manufactured run in Red Sox history.

1975 was another case of bad management, with Darrell Johnson mismanaging the bullpen in game seven. 1978 was derailed due to injuries to key players and the front office sitting on their hands instead of making a move to acquire some help. 1967 was a team playing above their heads that was fortunate to make it to game seven of the World Series and just didn’t have the starting pitching to put someone out against the most dominating pitcher of the sixties, Bob Gibson (Gentleman Jim Longborg had to go on two days rest and got hit hard). Back and back through history it goes: the Red Sox were mismanaged, outmaneuvered in the front office, and didn’t bring in the best players due to reputed racist (they may have just been stupid…either way, it hurt the team) front office staff--they had Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, and other negro league stars in hand and never signed them.

Management has to set the tone, lay out the plan, and execute it. Middle management takes the plan from the executives and implements it with the players who were brought in because they fit the plan. Loading up on right-handed hitters and not concentrating on pitching were the downfall of many Red Sox teams throughout history.

Back to the hideous YANKEES SUCK chant. I understand it was painful to lose to the Yankees. I felt that pain. But did anyone ever think about what they were saying? I don’t like the Yankees—never had and never will. But please respect them. Was there ever a greater display of sportsmanship than the Celtics fans in the old Garden in 1983 when the Philadelphia 76ers were taking down the team, winning the Eastern Conference championship at the sacred Garden? Did the fans chant SIXERS SUCK? No, they chanted BEAT L.A. in reference to the Celtics other rivals from the Western Conference who Philadelphia would face in the finals. Where, in the past twenty years, did those classy Boston fans go?

Now I know that Fenway is over-run with non-baseball fans nowadays—and that’s not particularly a bad thing. I still enjoy doing the wave, punching a beach ball, and singing along between innings, but spewing jealous hatred at a rival is neither sporting nor a sign of class, intelligence, or character. As I told my son after one of his Aunts had taught him the YANKEES SUCK chant: We don’t like the Yankees—but we don’t hate people. I respect them, but I root against them. We’re not vulgar. You can say the Yankees stink, they annoy you, you root against them, but don’t say they suck.

Sorry if I sound like an old prude, but let’s bring back the classy winners we used to be here in Boston.

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OTHER NOTES:

Why is it every time I think the Patriots have a shot at a free-agent, the player gets signed to some ridiculous deal? Take Kendrell Bell off the market, and now Plexiglas all of a sudden has numerous teams lining up to bring him in.

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The Celtics have a must-win game against the Atlanta Hawks. Yes, the Hawks stink, but if the Celtics are going to be a legitimate playoff team this season they need to go out and dominate the Hawks. Losing to the Hawks kills a lot of momentum going forward into the last twenty games of the regular season.

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