Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Boston Massacre

The latest Boston Massacre is history but the crowing will go on for some time yet.

Sweeps on the road are difficult enough, but the Yankees latest march through Fenway Park was positively Shermanesque.  No team in major league baseball had swept a five-game series on the road in over a decade.  No Yankee team had swept a five-game series in Boston since 1951.  It just isn’t supposed to be done, but, after all, these are the Yankees.

New York’s mauling of Boston had something for everyone, except, of course, if you were a citizen of the vaunted Red Sox Nation.  At varying times they showed off an overwhelming offense, solid defense, and dominating starting pitching.  More importantly, throughout the entire series they showed off supreme confidence.

From our little parochial perspective, the player receiving much of the credit is one Bobby Abreu.  Since arriving in New York Bobby has fit right in; and why not?  He is no longer being asked to lead or to even be the go-to guy.  He can play his game at his pace in his way and feel appreciated for it. “This is the right team.  This is the right time.”  I assume it isn’t worth pointing out that Abreu was admired and appreciated for much of his career in Philadelphia because, regrettably, he will probably only remember the last year and a half including the utterly contemptible booing he received on opening day this year.

Meanwhile, the race in the AL East isn’t over – larger margins have been overcome – but the series exposed Boston’s pitching, especially but not exclusively its middle bullpen, as the disaster area it is, and it highlighted the absence of the Red Sox’ most critical leader, injured catcher Jason Varitek.  Boston manager Terry Francona is going to be second-guessed into the next millennium as only Beantowners can for failing to bring in closer Jonathan Papelbon in the eighth inning of game 4, but he went strictly by the numbers on that call.  Yesterday’s genius is today’s average Joe.

Speaking of geniuses, we haven’t heard as much lately on that subject regarding Theo Epstein, the boy genius and wunderkind of the executive suite who resigned in a pique as GM before the start of this season and came back shortly thereafter.

Epstein is being criticized in some quarters for allowing the Yankees to outmaneuver him in acquiring Abreu and pitcher Cory Lidle.  (The critics would be better off directing their censure at Pat Gillick.)  Epstein’s response was to fire back, "That's not our dynamic. We're not going to have an uber-team every year. We're going to try to build an organization that can try to sustain success over the long run."

An “uber-team”?  Looks like the boy genius has been reading more than Bill James lately.


Anonymous said...

I was at that first game, and while I didn't see fit to boo Bobby, I understood what the catcalls were about. People weren't happy he was still there, and I think that's what they were trying to communicate to the higher-ups in attendance: disapproval not necessarily of the player himself, but at the fact of his lingering presence.

Naturally he is doing well with the Yankees, where he can easily blend and hide behind bigger names like Rodriguez (I refuse to call him by that nickname), Giambi, Johnson, Posada, and Jeter. He was more conspicuous in Philadelphia, where more was always needed and wanted from him in particular.

I have nothing against Abreu, but I'm glad he's moved on. I doubt the Phillies would have had this recent surge if the flurry of moves which culminated with his trade hadn't occured. That's not to say he made them a worse team, of course, but again, his presence was the unmistakable symbol of the tired and old. And so it's clear that his wasn't the only slate to be wiped clean.

RickSchuBlues said...

That was me, sorry.

Tom Goodman said...

RSB: I agree it was time for Bobby to move on for all concerned and I am glad he is in a position to play in the post-season for the first time in his career. He has handled the move with his usual low-key demeanor.

Regarding the opening day booing, I can only say that I doubt Bobby stood there listening and said to himself, "they are really sending a message to the higher-ups". It was unseemly and uncalled for. In fact, at the end of 2005 he was banged up, which accounted in part for his power interruption.

The rich really do get richer.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I was hanging out in Boston this weekend, and I followed that whole series.

Demoralizing is not the word for it. I mean, that series was inhuman.

The Red Sox front office has tripped over their own feet ever since 2004, no doubt.