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Archive for the ‘Terry Francona’ Category

Around the bases: Tito, Tigers and Trials

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 7, 2013

TITO

The New Idiots

There is an interesting story by Albert Chen in the March 4 issue of Sports Illustrated about the new look Cleveland Indians.  Chen tags them the strangest, most fascinating camp in Arizona.

Nick Swisher twirls a baton, hugs groundskeepers and bubbles with enthusiasm in the outfield.  A former fireballing first-rounder named Scott Kazmir, now skinny and wan, seeks a roster spot.  Daisuke Matsuzaka, the 32 year old Japanese hurler who once elicited $103 Million from John Henry’s coffers, is present.  There is also Jason Giambi, the 42 –year-old former MVP who once had p.e.d.-related tumors removed from his privates.  There is Michael Bourne, the free agent speedster that should have been grabbed long before the Tribe got him.  And there is Mark Reynolds, a 1B/3B/DH man that could K 220 times, but might also deposit ball over fence 40 times.

And this is Terry Francona’s new team.  There he is, stuffed into an Indian uniform and smiling broadly on the SI contents page.

After going 68-94 last year, the Tribe could rise with Francona and a new bunch of idiots.

There will be a happy clubhouse.  There will be loosey goosey players hitting it, catching it, throwing it.

Go Tito.  Go Tribe.

Amen, Westmoreland.

Today comes the news from Paul Doyle @ The Hartford Courant that former Red Sox top prospect, Ryan Westmoreland, has retired at age 22.  He has twice had brain stem surgery to correct a cavernous malfunction and it has been determined that it is impossible for Ryan to continue his dream of a MLB career.  The kid was said to have a tremendous upside although fate only gave him 60 pro games at Lowell in 2009 (.296, 7, 35 with 15 doubles).   There is a good message in the following words from this young Rhode Islander for anyone who has taken a hit in life:

“I believe that there is a plan for me that will utilize my experiences, however painful some may have been, to do something special in my life. It is time for me to find that path, and to pursue it with the same focus and effort that I pursued the dream of playing professional baseball.”

Amen, Ryan.  And thanks to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal for his piece on Westmoreland yesterday.

Be assertive, Jerry.

The Chi Sox circulated a new video to their fan base this week, the intent being to fire up the bugs for 2013.  “To make an impact” featured hitting, throwing, running, sliding and leaping action from Alexei Ramirez and Paul Konerko while Hawk Harrelson makes the call.  Other than praising off season workouts, I’m not sure what they are saying.  The 85-77 White Sox finished a smidge behind the World Series bound Tigers.  I hope the Chicago players shake up the Central Division better than their marketing folk are.  Compare ”Impact” to “162 Chances to Restore the Faith”, the 2013 tag line of the last place Red Sox.  Maybe take a Dale Carnegie class, Mr. Reinsdorf?

Young Tigers rising from the ashes

2013 is the 45th anniversary of the 1968 Detroit Tigers World Championship, the first Detroit crown since 1945.  The Kitty Kats went to camp in Lakeland after having been eliminated by the Red Sox on the last day of the 1967 season.  Ernie Harwell asked 26 year old Bill Freehan about the team’s chances in 1968.  He answered, “I am convinced we can do it.  We have some real good young talent.  Our young guys went through something last year that they had never been through.  I’ll tell you what, if we can stay healthy, yes, we can win it this year.”   Freehan led his team to the ultimate victory, becoming an All Star, a Gold Glover, and finishing 2nd in the MVP voting only to team mate Denny McLain.

Keep the faith.

Go Sox.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, RED SOX, Terry Francona | Leave a Comment »

Francona & Shaughnessy explain 2011….finally

Posted by athomeatfenway on February 18, 2013

Francona

On Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011, Terry Francona stood in front of the Palace Hotel in Manhattan waiting for DeMarlo Hale. His team had lost 12 out of their last 15 games and were hanging onto a playoff spot by a thread.

Francona was approached by a stranger with a foreign accent who said, “You must win today.”

“Hey asshole, what do you think we’re trying to do?” said the stressed out manager.

Security intervened. The foreigner turned out to be a diplomat. Apologies, introductions and a friendly photo taking followed. No damage done. But the incident speaks volumes. Tito had flared in a way not inconsistent with the captain on a sinking ship — and for good reason.

The Sox had blown a 9 game lead over Tampa in a disastrous September during which the pitchers didn’t pitch, the hitters didn’t hit and the fielders didn’t field.

And unlike earlier rough spots, Francona, who is usually a master at damage control, only made things worse.

But why?

That is the question some Red Sox fans, myself included, have been asking since Sept. 28, 2011. How could a team that was capable of 100 wins be 39 games over .500 from May 1 through August 31 and play like the ’62 Mets in September?

Francona, The Red Sox Years by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy goes a long way to providing the answers. It may be fair to say that the answers have been previously spoken or written many times by others. But this book lays out the chronology and context for the narrative in a way no one has before.

The trick the authors turn is in making the reader understand the forces that were acting upon Tito and the team.  It was not just that something was wrong with the Sox, it was that most everything was wrong.

It was a perfect storm. Veteran coaches had left and with them went the established connection points to the team that Francona used to discuss bad behavior or poor play.    This was a critical change.  If you read Michael Holley’s book about Francona, Red Sox Rule, then you know that Tito used peers, coaches and team leaders to keep the team on track.

Problems emerged every where. Youkilis said there was a festering conflict between position players and the pitching staff. Three starters (Lackey, Lester & Beckett) had enormous egos, all having pitched a WS clincher by age 26, and they formed a narcissistic clique that became unconcerned with management and team. Aging players were in the final year of their contracts and grew discontented. Players placed personal rewards above team success. Rumors broke out about Theo Epstein going to the Cubs as G.M. Injuries abounded. The medical staff was cluttered and nervous. The owners were fixated on playing all 81 home dates in order to maximize revenue even as Hurricane Irene threatened. The bullpen ran out of gas. All of the above…..all at once.

The tipping point came on Saturday, August 27, the day before Irene punished the Massachusetts coast. After a long road trip the owners insisted that a day-night doubleheader be played. Not hiding their unhappiness, the players performances thereafter landed in the outhouse, never to rise again in 2011.  Or in 2012.

A lot has been said about how Francona criticizes Lucchino, Werner & Henry in the book. There are several instances in which the ex-manager reveals their shortcomings but I didn’t read anything new or surprising. I’d have been surprised if Tito had written that Larry is a paternal cuddlebunny, another Johnny Pesky.

Larry is a bit of a tough guy. Theo can be manipulative. Henry is a geek. Werner is best suited to running NESN. So what. That sounds like the expected case.

Terry comes off as a flexible and devoted boss.  He’s not going to quote Winston Churchill like Theo. He is going to drop F-bombs. He may even moon you, as he mooned Theo and the coaches in the privacy of the manager’s office one day (when PR chief Pam Ganley barged in).

He’s down to earth.   He honors the 15 men who managed him as a player, spelling out which valuable lesson he learned from each one in a lovely Acknowlegdement at the end of the book.  These men were his highschool, minor league and big league skippers.  Even the one that scared the heck out of him, Dick Williams.

I like that about Tito. He’s a true diamond lifer who will never take himself too seriously or place his value high above his brothers and sisters.

He is the greatest Boston Red Sox manager in my 47 years of fandom. He’s probably the best in the history of the Sox.

No one was better at handling the press. Or difficult personalities.

This book is a must read. Don’t miss it.

Go Sox.

Posted in BASEBALL, BASEBALL BOOKS, Boston Red Sox, Terry Francona | Leave a Comment »

Francona & Varitek have Golden Spikes

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 18, 2009

1980 Golden Spikes Winner in his '78 Goldpanners uni.
 

 

 

 

 

1980 Golden Spikes Winner in his '78 Goldpanners uni.

One of the best Red Sox trivia stumpers I know goes like this:  Who are the five current Red Sox that won the Golden Spikes Award in college ?  
 
The Golden Spikes is like the Naismith Award, going to the best college player in the nation.
 
Answer:  J.D. Drew, Mark Kotsay, Jason Varitek, Dave Magadan and Terry Francona.
 
Surprised about Francona ?  The injury prone manager batted .401 in 1980, was College World Series MVP, lead his team to the National Title, and left the University of Arizona in the Top 8 all time in RBI, Hits, Extra Base Hits, and Total Bases among all Wildcat players.
 
His bench coach, Brad Mills, wasn’t half bad either, with a .515 career OBP, third on the Cats’ all time list.
 
Francona batted .274 with just 10 HR’s in 16 gimpy MLB seasons, but his 900 – 525 WL record as Sox Manager burnishes his image.
 
J.D.  Drew starred at Florida State University (1997), and .now sports a career .282 BA w 202 HR’s in 12 (part time) MLB seasons —  very respectable.
 
Mark Kotsay won when at Cal State Fulleron (1995).  His career MLB .282 BA and 1542 Hits in 13 campaigns is a workmanlike line.
 
Sox Batting Coach, Dave Magadan, University of Alabama (1983), had an MLB career .288 BA and squeezed out 1197 hits over 16 seasons.  Certainly qualifies him to teach.
 
Jason Varitek won when at Georgia Tech (1994).  Considered altogether, the two World Championships, .261 BA and 174 HR’s over 13 years are very respectable.  Add in the 4 no-hitters he has called with 4 different pitchers, and you understand why he has earned a special place in the hearts of baseball fans, and baseball history.
 
These five Sox pretty well represent all GS winner when it comes to position players.  Plenty of long MLB careers among the winners, but no MVP’s or Batting Champs. And, of course, no Hall of Famers.
The Sox Golden Spikers beat out some fine competitors in college, including  Nomar Garciaparra, Todd Walker, Todd Helton, Troy Glaus and Lance Berkman, to name a few.
 
Since the award’s inception in 1978, a lot of matriculated MLB superstars were not selected — Barry Bonds (Az. State), Roger Clemens (Texas), Ryan Howard (Mo. St.), Jeff Bagwell (Hartford), Frank Thomas (Auburn), Jason Giambi (Cal-Longbeach), Dustin Pedroia (Az. State), Tony Gwynn (San Diego St.), Kirby Puckett (Bradley), and Randy Johnson (USC).
The award has produced a steady supply of starting pitchers like Ben McDonald, Alex Fernandez, Jim Abbott, Darren Dreifort, Jason Jennings, Mark Prior, Jered Weaver…..and Tim Lincecum.
 
++++++++++++++++
 
32 winners.  20 position players.  12 pitchers.
 All but 4 of the 32 players reached the majors.
 Nice players, yes. 
 It’s a roster of talent, but the big guns signs out of high school. 
College has not been, since the Class of 1978 at least, a path to the Hall Of Fame.
But that could change.
Mark Prior and Tim Lincecum are the only Golden Spikes winners who pitched themselves to the MLB All Star game.   The similarity should end there. Young Lincecum projects to have a long and fruitful career, unlike the injury prone Cub, who hung it up after just 5 seasons.

++++++++++

 At the All Star Break, USA Baseball’s Executive Director Paul Seiler announced that the 2009 Golden Spikes Award winner is Stephen Strasberg of San Diego State.  He had a 13-1 WL record this year, with a 1.32 ERA, and 195 K’s in 109 IP. 
To learn more about the award and its history, go to www.goldenspikesaward.com

+++++++

A herd of future pro’s go for the sheepskin at Arizona State, which alone has sent 91 players to the major leagues since 1961, including the player-of-the-century (in his own mind) Reggie Jackson (’66), the durable Gary Gentry & Larry Gura (’67), ’86 BoSox keystoner Marty Barrett, the loveable ’69 Met Duffy Dyer, and the first Golden Spikes winner ever, Bob Horner.  Just part of what makes Arizona a FANTASTIC Baseball state.

 

Baby Tek

Young Tek won The Spikes at Tech in '94.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Jason Varitek, RED SOX, Terry Francona | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ALCS: Now even, Sox will take 3 of 4 next

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 12, 2008

Oct. 12, 2008

 

Tacky Tampa Fans Will Not Taste The Bubbly

Tacky Tampa Fans Will Get Zero Bubbly (AP photo)

 

 

The ALCS is now a best-of-5 Series. 

First team to take three games this week goes to the Series.

 

Let’s review what we learned from the six head-to-head games played in September by the new-look Mannyless Sox vs. never-say-die Rays

 

 

·        There will be low scoring games

·        There may be extra innings

·        Put Timlin in late with risk

·        There will be strong starting and relieving from both teams

·        There may be stretches of no hitting by the Sox with RISP

·        David Ortiz should continue to hit at .250 and he may power up

·        Jason Bay will star

·        The Rays are resilient

·        Every Game is pivotal

 

 

 

Rays take September 4 games to 2

 
 

rays.com

Andy Sonenstine (rays.com)

Sept. 8 to 10 Boston 

 

TIGHT GAME:  EARLY RUNS MAKE DIFF

 

Sept. 8 – For the 13th time in 13 games between Bos & TB, the home team wins..

Lester and Papelbon shine.  Edwin Jackson sparkles, too, only losing as the Sox get a walk and two hits including a Bay HR to score 3 in the first.  After that, Jackson and Howell are lights out.  We win 3 – 0.

 

PAP BLOWS IT:  CLOSER NULLS BAY’S 8th Inn HR

 

Sept. 9 – Dice K labors but again yields little, giving the Sox a chance to rise up.  And it happens !  After Kazmir allows just 2 runs in 6 IP, Wheeler yields a 2 run HR to Bay in the Bottom-8th to take a 4-3 lead.  And Pap, the automatic, needs only to record 3 outs in the 9th.  BUT, he fails.  Pap gives 2 runs and we lose, 4 – 5.

 

 

TIMELY HITTING FAILS:  TIMLIN ENTERS WITH GAS CAN

 

Sept. 10 – The Sox fail to score.  They strand 5  (3 in scoring pos.) in innings 10,11 & 12.  Then, Timlin enters & allows a 3 run HR.  Sox then load the bases in the Bottom-14th, but squander the opportunity.  The bullpen shined and Beckett was very good.  Sonenstine sparkled.  Sox left 16 LOB.  We lose, 2 – 4

  

 Sept. 15 to 17 Tampa

 

 

SOX BITCH-SLAP KAZMIR

Sept. 15 – Had Chris Smith not given up two 2-run HR’s to The Rays in one inning, this 13-5 laugher would have been a 13-1 shellacking.  Dice-K and the bullpen (other than Smith) are terrific.  Sox hit 4 HR’s.  We win 13 – 5

 

BOTH STARTERS GEMS:  MASTERSON YIELDS LOSING RUN

 

Sept. 16– A flat out gem is tossed by both Beckett and Sonenstine.  At the end of 8 Innings, it’s a 1 – 1 tie.  Masterson victimized in ninth by a soft fisted single, a BB after a recalled strike call, and a HBP.  We lose, 1-2.

 

WAKEFIELD DOESN’T HAVE IT

 

Sept. 17 – Three HR’s allowed by Wakefield gave TB all they would need since the Sox would muster only 6 hits and 3 runs, all 3 on 2 hr’s by Ortiz.  Sox trot out Hansack, Smith, even Pauley in relief.  That’s the bottom of the barrel.  A default.  We lose, 3 – 10.

 

 

 

These two teams are evenly matched.  For the Sox, it’s the second consecutive series of playing a postseason opponent just as good as they are.

 

The Rotation

 

Sure, we don’t know this for sure, but the starters could be as follows:

 

Fri  Shields v Dice K  (win)

Sat  Kazmir v Beckett  (loss)

Mon Garza v Lester

Tue Sonnenstine v Wake

Thu Shields v Dice K

Sat Kazmir v Lester

Sun Sonnenstine  v Beckett

 

 It comes down to Lester & Matsuzaka

 

Speed against speed.  Solid starters & effective relievers on both sides.  Youth is just a tad on the Ray’s side.  There are no dominant power hitters on either team.  Lady luck has been with the Rays in the close games, but luck is a pendulum.  Stealing one in Tampa on Friday the last is a real advantage.

 

 

Expect the Sox take it in 6 on Saturday Oct. 18 as Lester wins 5 – 2.  Lester and Dice-K contribute all 4 of the Sox wins in this Series.  No game 7.   Our #1 & #2 starters MUST provide quality starts for the Sox to have a chance.  And both of them are hot right now.

 

And our hitters have to produce against Sonenstine, Shields and Garza.  I’m confident they will hit Kazmir.

 

All that said, I wouldn’t preclude Wakefield from disrupting this prediction by shutting the Rays down on Tuesday.

 

What do you think ?

Lester now at the Height of His Game  (AP)

Lester now at the Height of His Game (AP)

Posted in ALCS, BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, RED SOX, Tampa Bay Rays, Terry Francona | Leave a Comment »

Michael Bowden impresses with Win #1

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 31, 2008

Aug. 30, 2008

Fenway Park

 

All of this on Ted Williams’ birthday.

 

 

Michael Bowden took the mound today for his first MLB start backed by a makeshift Sox line-up featuring the “strongest 160-pound man in Baseball” batting cleanup.

 

Ellsbury (CF), Lowrie (3rd), Ortiz (DH), Pedroia (2nd), Kotsay (RF), Bay (LF), Tek (C), Bailey (1b) and Cora (ss).

 

Pedroia would reach safely for the 10th AB in a row and hear the MVP chant. 

 

 

Bowden did not have it easy.

 

He faced a ChiSox starting 9 that already poled 185 HR this year. 

 

The 3-4-5 hitters, Quentin, Dye and Thome, have 96 HR between them. 

 

Add to that the sensational rookie Alexei Ramirez (.310/15/60), a still potent 38-yr-old Junior Griffey, and a few other clutch performers, and this was no team of pushovers facing Mr. Bowden.

 

Bowden was as advertised in terms of a powerful, condensed pitching motion.  After walking Cabrera on 5 pitches to start the game, he fired four 92 MPH fastballs to Pierzynski, inducing a 1-3 double play.  5 fastballs later, he grounded Quentin out to third to record his first MLB inning, facing the minimum 3 batters.

 

Bowden would put up only 5 innings this night.   He wouldn’t go unmolested.  But he limited the damage, showing great character and composure in tight spots.

 

In the second, he worked his fastball and a 77 mph cutter to get 2 strikes on Jermaine Dye, but with the crowd calling for the rookie’s first MLB strikeout, Dye smashed the ball 390 ft. to the Garage Door area in dead center.  It had HR distance but hit the CF wall 10 ft below the fans in Bleacher 36.  Two batters later, Bowden gave up his first run in the majors when Alexei Ramirez stroked a 2-2 fastball on a line before Bay in left and turned on the speed to register a double and an RBI.

 

With the crowd still waiting for his first K, Mr. Bowden then fed Nick Swisher a fastball and three 78 mph Cutters, striking Swisher out on a cutter in the dirt.   Swisher, a very good player, looked like a bad one.

 

The 2nd inning damage was 1 run.  Ramirez was stranded on second.  Bowden kept his cool.

 

Bowden gave up one more run this day.  That run almost never scored because Joe Crede, the runner, almost produced an out instead of a triple.  Crede led off the 3rd by smacking the 8th pitch Bowden hurled 379 ft to the base of the left center wall. There, Ellsbury caught up with it, and on the ball’s descent, tipped the fly up not once but twice before it fell for a triple.  He stuck his glove out at the end and just missed it.  Not an easy catch potentially.  A great try by the centerfielder.

 

Crede, who could have been out, trotted in two batters later on Pierzynski’s ground out to Pedroia.  1 run.

 

Bowden fired fastball after fastball over the course of his outing.  He threw about 60 fastballs out of 89 total pitches. 

 

Power Against Power

 

Bowden disarmed Carlos Quentin, holding the MVP candidate to personal O-for-three before leaving. 

 

Bowden displayed his intangibles in the fifth.  After yielding two singles to Cabrera and Pierzynski, and with Dye on deck, he fed the power hitting Quentin four 92 mph fastballs, two of them partially over the plate, two of them not. 

 

On the second pitch, with a 1-0 count, two ducks on the pond, Bowden was not afraid to pound another fastball in letter high to the White Sox slugger.

 

Power against power. 

 

Quentin couldn’t catch up to it. 

 

Bowden did not get Quentin to chase the pitches out of the zone, but he did make him fly out to Bay on the last pitch.   Then he stranded two ChiSox when the slugger Dye flew out to Bay on a ball with HR height to the track.

 

Bowden never looked to be in serious trouble.  He surely put runners on base, yielding 4 hits in the 4th and the 5th, but no one scored.

 

He was aided by one double play, initiated by him self in the first.

 

 

More than a fastball

 

At the end of the day, Bowden had a fine first outing.  His fastball, 5 or 6 mph slower than Manny Delcarmen’s or Josh Beckett’s, had the movement needed to stay away from the heart of the plate and give the White Sox batters conniptions.  Although heavy on the heater, Bowden mixed in an effective Cutter (77 mph), Curve (78 mph), and a Change (85 mph).  He really made Swisher look bad with the curve in particular.

 

Licking His Chops

 

Young Alexei Ramirez stood on deck while Griffey made the last out in the 9th.   He was asked what he thought of the kid who started tonight.  Alexei smiled sweetly at the questioner in the second row.  He looked like a cat licking its whiskers after biting the mouse on it’s hind quarter, but somehow letting it get away.  He smirked, but said nothing.

 

Bowden gets an A+ for cool.  He gets an A+ for getting ahead in the count.  He gets an A for controlling the rythym of his outing.    

 

He gets a B- for overall performance though, unable to keep the able ChiSox batters off the bases. 

 

We’ll someday see how he does against the Ginger and Mary Anne’s in Baltimore, Kansas City and Seattle.  

 

Ellsbury, Pedroia & Kotsay win it 8-2

 

Mr. Bowden owes thanks to the self-acknowledged “Strongest 160 pound Man in Baseball”, and a few other mates, for notching his first MLB victory on Ted Williams’  90th birthday, by a score of 8 – 2.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Charlie Zink, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Manny Ramirez, Matsuzaka, Michael Bowden, Mike Lowell, NESN, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield, Uncategorized, Youkilis | Leave a Comment »

FOR THE RECORD

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 4, 2008

 

Fri., July 25    Joba outduels Beckett  1-0

 

Sat. July 26    Wake’s first bad outing since May 18, Yanks win 10-3

 

Sun. July 27   Lester cruises over Ponson, 9-2.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Carl Yastrzemski, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Fred Lynn, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jim Rice, JOBA CHAMBERLAIN, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, NEW YORK YANKEES, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield | Leave a Comment »

JOBA CHAMBERLAIN SHOULD BE OH K

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 26, 2008

As we head into this late-July Red Sox Yankee confrontation at Fenway,anticipation over pitching is high. 

 
 

 

Beckett v. Chamberlain on Friday. Wakefield v. Petitte on Saturday. Lester v. Ponson on Sunday. No contest this weekend ? As El Tiante would say, Bullsheet.

Friday’s game will be very tough, featuring two pitchers who are their team’s present and future. Joba Chamberlain is 23 and could have anchor the Yankee starters for the next decade. Beckett, the star of the 2003 & 2007 World Series Championship teams is but 28 years old. This sensational match up is between one established star hurler and a newcomer upon whose shoulders rests the Yankee’s ability to compete with the Sox and Rays. We could see 5 or 6 years of this match up. I’d like to see the Sox smack Joba around to teach the newbie some humility. But it ain’t gonna happen. (Last year, I kept shaking my head with his every appearance and asked, “when is someone going to kick this guy’s ass ? And it didn’t happen. ) Joba can bring it, and he has an aggressive, winning attitude. If he has the composure, expect a 0 – 2 loss to the Yankees. If Beckett matches him, expect a scoreless tie when he leaves in the 7th, and a 1 – 0 bullpen victory for the Sox.

Saturday ? Wakefield is the Sox statistical ACE this year with 14 Quality Starts. He will defeat the Yankees 7 – 4.

On Sunday, The Sox are highly likely to win with Lester. Not just because the lefty is focused and imperturbable. The 5th spot in the Yankees rotation is still TBD, with the portly Ponson the best spare part available. I expect a 4 – 0 Sox win on Sunday. Easy pickings.

Hitting won’t be in the spot light this weekend. Which is counterintuitive given that the Large Father is Back. Given that Pedroia and Youk are hot. Given that The Yankee hitters have propelled their team from last to 3rd in 10 weeks.

But this weekend will be about the letter K.

286 batters have been K’d by Boston’s 3 starters. 220 by the Yankee trio. 506 K’s to date.

We may see 40 more this weekend.

-Karl Cicitto 
 

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, JOBA CHAMBERLAIN, Josh Beckett, NEW YORK YANKEES, RED SOX, Terry Francona | 1 Comment »

RED SOX RULE Terry Francona and Boston’s Rise to Dominance (by Michael Holley) book review

Posted by athomeatfenway on May 26, 2008

Harper Collins, March 2008.

Baseball readers look for authors like Michael Holley. 

 

I’m not saying that Holley is as fascinating and easy as Peter Gammons, or as visceral and hypnotic as Leigh Montville.  But, in various parts of this book, Michael Holley has the knack of being equal parts funny and accurate while he spins ideas and images.

 

He likens Grady Little’s clash with John Henry after the Pedro debacle as a conflict between traditional and new, acoustic vs. electric, the Jocks vs. the Geeks.  He admits he doesn’t know exactly when the cultural shift happened with Baseball Managers, but it made the Weavers, Alstons and Andersons politically incorrect as suddenly as a corporate buy out hits a Senior Manager from their blind side.

 

Earl, Walter and Sparky represent the old days of Manager as Dictator.  Little represents Management By Instinct.   Terry Francona represents the New Age Manager, one who makes everyone comfortable by backing his players while using team leaders like Veritek, Ortiz and Lowell to encourage peak performance.

 

This book is all about Tito.  It could have been titled, “Exploding Knees, Blood Clots, Mind Blowing Championships, and What You Can Learn By Managing Michael Jordan”.

 

(…And How To Win Friends and Influence Players.)

 

Francona’s potential as a player was promising.   It was pocked with injuries that ended his playing career and nearly took his life before he got a job with the Sox.

 

He was a natural in every sport he tried.  His work ethic was obsessive.  He was a student of the game from age 10, telling Dad that young Bert Blyleven’s curve ball was one of the best he’d ever seen.

 

Abundant playing talent, betrayed by his body.

Abundant playing talent, betrayed by his body.

 

Bonus Baby, First Round Pick, Starter, Platoon Player, Defensive Replacement, Pinch Hitter, Player Frustrated By Injuries, Bench Warmer, Player Released.  Terry was all of those players as he rose and fell.   Understanding what it means to be each of those players helps him guide performance of others.

 

The undercurrent throughout the book is the value of long and powerful human relationships.  With his Mom Birdie and Dad Tito, wife Jacque, Grandfather Carmon, best friend of 30+ years Brad Mills, Michael Jordan, the Clubhouse guys, the players.

 

This book is an easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable take on Terry Francona and the New Age Manager.  It’s well worth the investment, especially if you are dying to better understand the Old Towne Team beyond the commercial version presented everyday by NESN, and with more perspective than the daily coverage provided  in the Globe and Herald.

Rare insight and humor.

Holley: Rare insight and humor.

Posted in BASEBALL, BASEBALL BOOKS, Michael Holley, RED SOX, Terry Francona, WEEI | Leave a Comment »