I never thought I would see the day, when the manager of the Red Sox would choose to leave. Not get unceremoniously fired, but to voluntarily walk away. However, that is exactly what happened today, September 30th, 2011. That’s right, the most liked, most successful and 2nd winningest manager in Sox history, walked away from the franchise. Not because management didn’t want him. Not because the fans didn’t want him. Not even because the players didn’t want him. Make no mistake about it, this was his choice. In this case, the manager didn’t want the players, and he felt “compelled” to get away from them. What does that say about the clubhouse? Nothing good, for sure.
As a lifelong Red Sox fan, I have seen my hometown nine embarrass me time and time again, but when Terry Francona took over the helm in Boston, eight years ago, that all seemed to change. Even with the lovable idiots he had at the beginning, including Manny Ramirez, he had command of the clubhouse, and that led to the first World Series title in 86 years. An accomplishment that should have guaranteed him a lifetime job in Boston. Then he went out and won another title 3 years later. A title that, to many Sox fans, was more relevant than the other, because it proved that the first wasn’t a fluke. At that point, I was ready to change the address of Avalon, to 15 Francona Street. All the sins of the past were forgiven. The tides had changed. The Curse was broken. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda. Life was great in Red Sox Nation.
Then, the team of 2011 decided to get back to their roots. Proving that the DNA that has been in the blood of the Red Sox, since Babe Ruth left, was still there. It may have been dormant for a little while, but it never left. I know that Tito has taken the high road, as was expected. Taking responsibility for the lack of discipline in the clubhouse. A players manager until the end. However, this is no more his fault than it is mine. This was the players fault. Plain and simple, with no debate. They caused this disaster. Francona didn’t deserve it, and I am appalled.
The thing that upsets me the most is how this all happened. With so many veterans on the team, who have been managed by Tito for years, there should have been some major self policing going on. If the reports that are circulating are true, then what the hell are these veterans doing. Pitchers drinking in the bullpen on off days? Where were Beckett, Lester, and Paps during all this? Drew with a putter in the dugout? Where was Pedroia, Tek, and Ortiz? All of our so-called leaders did nothing. Even when Tito was vocal about his disappointment. Again, what does that say about the clubhouse? To me it says only one thing. Theo needs to make some serious changes. Although, nothing is going to bring Terry back, there are steps that can be taken to prevent this situation from getting any worse.
You need look no further than three hundred miles south, to your mortal enemy the Yankees, for the blueprint. First and foremost, there needs to be a code of conduct that leaves no room for compromise. New York may spend more than any other team in the league, on free agents, but they make it clear, right away, that you follow the rules and you act like a professional at ALL times. If you don’t, you’re gone.
This leads to the second, and equally as important guideline. Get rid of all players that do not fall in line with the first rule. The reason why the Yankees are so successful is because they don’t let money get in the way of their philosophy. To be more specific, they don’t care how much a player makes and they care even less what it costs to get rid of them. Whenever someone says that they can’t move a guy because he makes too much, they eat as much of the contract as they have to, and low and behold, he’s traded or released. Then they move on. No regrets. This is what you do when you have a huge payroll. You stop worrying about the money, and you concentrate on winning. PERIOD!
So, now it’s all up to Theo. Time to put up or shut up. Have the balls to make some hard decisions. Tek is done. So is Wake. They bleed Sox red, so give them both jobs in the organization doing whatever they want. They deserve it. Drew is out, thank god. He wasn’t all bad, but he was mostly bad. As much as it kills me to say it, they need to cut ties with Youk. He’s been a great player, but he’s hurt too much, and you can’t be loyal to a fault. Paps gotta go too. His act is played out, and he’s too bullheaded to change. As for the rest of the bunch, Lackey, and Bedard have to go. I don’t care what it costs. Make it happen. This also applies to any player who can’t follow rule number one. Then and only then, will I even begin to forgive this team for what has gone down in the last thirty days. I’ll be waiting.