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March 29, 2006

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David Welch

It's not so much the Sox/Yankees bullshit that I'm worried about but instead the Tavarez/Everyone bullshit! The only thing that JT could have been responding to when he lost it was getting bashed around ON THE MOUND.

That's no excuse, but on the other hand, what do guys like Pedro do when they get bashed around on the mound? Throw 95 MPH fastballs at the chin! Not sure about everyone else, but I'd rather get bitch-slapped in the chin and lose the 'ole helmet than have the 95 MPH heat take it off!

Anywho, to respond to your request for feedback, Bethany, I'll start with Graff/Arroyo. As much as I admired Bronson, and as well as Graff played for us last year, I have no qualms with saying over and over again, IT'S A BUSINESS! The Yankees have gone 5 full seasons now without winning the WS, and who is that guy that Damon is finally replacing in center? (Actually, Bernie Williams is having a hell of a ST, I noticed: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/springStats?team=nyy&type=bat&year=2006) There are times to listen to your agent(s) and times to tell them to stuff it. Bronson chose the wrong option last month! Graff, he's playing for the same team he started last year with, and probably making more money thanks to the Sox! I want my team to win, and unless they are resorting to sending unwed mothers to the street to fend for themselves, all bets are off! As soon as they start bending their rules for "nice guys," they set a precedence, and that's a slippery slide . . .

Ok, what about the violence. I will concede that there are no similarities between Tavarez 3/27/06 and Varitek 7/24/04. None. And here's how I came to that conclusion. Tavarez lost his temper. He's done it time and time again, and been punished four times, I believe, if you count the fine for calling the fans shitheads and faggots (inserting appropriate 'expletive' and 'pejorative term for homosexuals'). I do not believe that 'Tek lost his temper. The timing (in the game AND in the season) was too perfect. I think at that point in the season, he entered every game fully prepared to "go the distance" to get his ballclub rolling. That opportunity presented itself when A-Rod started flapping his gums on that fateful July day, and Jason did what needed to be done. This is WHY we do not have to deal with Jason running around punching phones and shit, he has his temper under control ALL THE TIME.

beth

that is a really interesting way to look at the "smell the glove" moment, david. hadn't thought of it that way before.

thanks for your input! i think we're 99.9% in agreement.

Dan

//Of course, that's to say nothing of those who seem to feel, somehow, that Red Sox player behavior has been outright caused by, as I have heard it put, "their rabid gallery of fans." Which...I mean...huh? Anyone able to explain that particular leap of logic to me? Cause I sure don't get it.//

That one cracks me up: the comments at a particular blog have folks blaming 'the bloodlust' (insert giggle here) of the Red Sox fans AND calling for Sox players to be hurt in retaliation. Um... ok.

Seriously, do people think before they type such self-righteous nonsense? Do people really think a pitcher, of ANY team, goes to the mound thinking 'Seems like the fans want blood and fighting tonight - I guess I'd better deliver?'

Boston Fan in Michigan

//Also, apparently, if we continue to support the Sox after they've behaved so inhumanely to Arroyo and Graffanino, we're apologists for an inhuman, evil franchise that fucks over players. Oh, wait, no, if we sympathize with Arroyo and Graffanino it's hypocritical, because we're known for our "short attention spans" and the fact that we apparently don't give a fuck about our hometown guys like Nomar. Yay!//

I've never understood this argument. Did Nomar not sulk and sulk and oh yes, DEEPLY AND BLACKLY SULK for an agonizingly drawn-out period of time before he was traded? I was under the impression that he had done that very thing. Did Bronson or Graff do anything similar? Did they in fact do essentially the exact opposite? And people don't get how we can feel shitty about them being packed off, but not necessarily Nomah?

Beth

ah, sam, but he sulked BECAUSE of us! do you get it? do you get it? *shoots self in head*

dan, you raise a really good point. because if pitchers really responded to when the fans wanted blood, the red sox would *never* brawl with the d-rays. i don't think any sox fan has ever flipped on the d-rays game going, "shit yeah! i wanna see some serious shit go down with those punks from tampa bay!"

if pitchers or players in general responded to the "bloodlust" of their fans, several of our players would be dead at the hands of the oakland a's. the red sox and yankees would fight every single time they play. and as stated already, but it bears repeating, these inexplicable sox / d-rays brawls would cease to happen altogether.

Iain

I still have serious issues David's "it's a business" line. Not because of how owners or GMs approach the game, but because of how we as fans approach it. I thought Jere made some very relevant points last week about how baseball is anything but a business. If I get to the point where I - as a fan - see baseball as nothing but a business, where winning is the be-all and end-all of the story, then I need to ask myself WTF is going on. Outside of its pleasing aesthetics, the only real value baseball has is the emotional one we attach to it. If I were given the choice of following a bunch of assholes to a World Series win or seeing a bunch of players I've gotten attached to finish 82-80, I would take choice #2.

Of course winning is the ultimate goal, but that victory doesn't exist in a vacuum - it occurs in a particular context, with a particular bunch of players. Take away those players - in this instance "The 25" - and what's left? Just a big shiny trophy that doesn't mean shit. 2004 was special not just because of the win, but because that group of players won us over in a million different ways, from Dave Roberts' steal and Schilling's bloody sock to Manny's Olympia Sports commercials and Millar's "Don't let us win tonight" speech. If I wanted to invest time and energy in some kind of enterprise built to make money and beat the competition at all costs (I'm paraphrasing and unless they are resorting to sending unwed mothers to the street to fend for themselves, all bets are off!) then I'll jump on the train and go to work.

I understand the concern with the bottom line - winning - but I personally feel uneasy when that is all that matters. When Yankee fans find Steinbrenner's bottomless wallet, Sheffield's alleged steroid abuse or Damon's mercenary leap from Boston to New York to be justifiable means to an end - winning the WS - we're all over them in a flash, so why should we be held to different standards?

On our pitchers going varying degrees of posatl, I am much more worried about Tavarez than about Beckett. As David said, he has a history of stupid, irresponsible behaviour on and around the baseball diamond, and the less I see him on the mound for the Boston Red Sox, the happier I will be.

And one final thing: I'm not advocating brawls / slanging matches / bitch slaps, but if we are going to have them, could we at least have them in a context that has meaning, i.e. September vs. the Yankees, rather than Spring Training vs. the Devil Rays? I have to admit that the whole Devil Rays thing puzzles me - I know the recent history, but that's all there is. It's not like there's a long rivalry going back decades that would explain the bad blood. I guess after a while it just becomes self-generating, to the extent where nobody really knows why it happens anymore, but I just fail to see why we have all this crap with a team whose best-ever season was a 70-win 4th place finish.

Cathryn

Wow. And here I've just been making cheap Urbina jokes.

More seriously, though, I remember last year explaining (or trying to) to an O's fan friend what it's like to be in on the rivalry - I think this was shortly after the Sheffield thing. I think I finished up by telling her how sometimes there's a strong sense that things are going to culminate in real violence, and someone will have to get hurt for it all to ratchet back to a sane level. Now you've got me thinking it might just work out that way this year. Of course, last year we all figured that was just the start of something explosive, and not so much. So we'll see.

(Oh, and I second Iain on the D-Rays - WTF? That's just funny. They're like the obnoxious little brother you just wanna thump upside the head.)

beth


so iain, just to be annoying, i am going to ask - if winning isn't why ppl should follow a team, why bring up the d-rays win-loss record? :-)

cathryn, one might argue that making urbina jokes is a better use of one's time than navel-gazing about a baseball rivalry. but what do i know.

so what i really want you to tell me is, what was your O's friend's reaction to your explanation?

Edw.

Just a couple of quick points:

1) Let's not forget Graffanino wasn't forced to acccept the arbitration. And by accepting it, he did cost the Sox two draft picks.

2) A player's value at any given moment isn't static, but fluid. When Graffanino was offered arbitration, the Sox most likely had a plan for him that did not include "screwing him." But then things changed, the market shimmied and all of a sudden Theo et al have a chance to get some players they didn't think they could get when they offered the arbitration and these players, according to their stats and knowledge are a) better and/or b) a better value.

So they jettison Graffanino.

That's just the way the system works. It's neither fair nor unfair. It just is.

beth

i agree with you edw. on those points, but what about the way the graffanino and tavarez stories are sort of being used to somehow indict sox fans? do you think there's a backlash going on?

Cathryn

I dunno, Beth. The Urbina jokes are fun, but so easy that I almost feel kind of cheap after. Almost.

Her reaction was more or less, ". . . huh. Wow. Yikes." And, I suspect, an unspoken, " . . . crazy Red Sox fans." Heh.

To the indictment discussion, I would like to add that the rest of baseball fandom pretty much tends to hate us anyway, so when it comes to our players and/or FO being douches, we really can't win. I wouldn't worry about it too much.

beth

// I would like to add that the rest of baseball fandom pretty much tends to hate us anyway, so when it comes to our players and/or FO being douches, we really can't win.//

perhaps i've been living in a cave, but i have not become aware of this until recently. why?

Nick

At YFvSF, I put it out there that it was ethically dubious of sox management to offer arbitration to Graf knowing full-well they had no intention of keeping him on the team, and also knowing the potential effect it had on his appeal as a free agent. He took the Sox's offer because he had no better opportunities as a consequence of the Sox's offer of arbitration (what team would give up a first round pick for Grafanino?). Now, I'm not so naive to believe that other management teams all around baseball don't do the same thing (heck, I'm a fan of the Yanks who are run by George Steinbrenner who spied on one of his players), but to me this was a clear instance of business over humanity. To me, that's not to be admired, and what's weird is that so many baseball fans, in the age when Moneyball (a book I love) is canonized as gospel for blog commenter, deny the simple fact that what works best for business doesn't always work best for the person. And I suppose the reason I brought up the Graf thing in connection with Sox management is that Theo and Henry have put forth this image supported by most journalists (headed by Gammons) of being sweet and nice guys. They're businessmen and they're very clever, but, at times, I don't find what they do admirable.

I also wasn't pointing out any hypocricy on the part of Sox fans for supporting their management in making this decision. It was a reasonable move that, in effect, screwed a player that they had once rooted for. I do sense, however, an overzealous loyalty to Theo on the part of Sox fans,and I think that's not how I would operate: I would like to believe I could call out a person whose intelligence I admire when he did something I thought was kinda messed up.

For the record, I basically don't like George Steinbrenner. But I love Jeter.

Cathryn

Beth, it's kinda hard to explain, but the general vibe I've gotten from being outside Red Sox fandom is that we're seen as on the same kind of level as Yankee fans - whiny brats with a big ol' payroll and routinely contending team, and could we please get over ourselves with that curse crap already? We are just not liked.

Being a multi-team fan, one of my favorite things is seeing how others perceive my other teams, players, etc, and I also have flashes of that outside perspective myself. For example: Last September, when the Red Sox were doing their very best to give away the lead they'd held for so long, the entire RSN was throwing a collective shitfit. But whenever I felt tempted to join in and start freaking out, I just looked over at the Tigers with their hideous freefall and drama-filled clubhouse and players totally freezing out the manager, and I'd just be like, "OH NOEZ the Red Sox are contending with loads of team chemistry and a manager the players respect WHATEVER SHALL WE DO." I recall posting an entry in my journal to the effect of, "Guys, chill. Seriously." (Of course, when we actually did lose the lead, I was not happy. The multi-team thing doesn't give me contempt for my contending teams' struggles, it just helps keep me from having six heart attacks a day. *g*) That's a big thing, I think - fans of teams with no chance or a smaller chance look at us flipping our shit and go, "Oh my god, SHUT UP."

There's probably a lot more to it, but I believe the basic idea is that we're seen by many as a bunch of hysterical, self-centered schmucks who think baseball lives and dies with our team. Not very fair, but there it is. That's a huge generalization, of course - there are plenty of people with no opinion or a more balanced outlook - but I think the overall feeling about the Red Sox Nation is not a very friendly one.

'Course, anyone still reading this thread is more than welcome to jump in and contradict me.

Beth

//Theo and Henry have put forth this image supported by most journalists (headed by Gammons) of being sweet and nice guys.//

nick, since WHEN does theo put forth an image of being a "sweet, nice guy"? i mean...whoa! theo's "image" is being a total, brass-balled, fearless, Machiavellian badass (you and i have even argued about this before!). i mean, nothing could be further from the truth, dude...not sure where you came up with that one.

as far as an "overzealous" attachment to theo, you are right to some extent. i know i personally absolutely 110% trust every move the guy makes to be what's best for the team, as in, what's best for the team's competitive chances. what's best, in other words, for me as a fan who wants to see the red sox be at least competitive if not dominant. for example, your center fielder (enjoy him!) is still pissing and moaning about why the sox didn't offer him more money etc. etc. etc. etc. but, basically, theo has explained that he didn't want the red sox to be loaded down with salaries owed to aging players, and johnny damon was too old to justify a bazillion years at a quadrillion dollars. never in the history of the red sox have we had a GM who's been willing to slay the golden calf like that--or been able to resist his attempts to start a mudslinging contest after the fact--and that's why red sox fans have suffered, up until 2004. now that we have someone who'll do it, it's still sometimes upsetting given our emotional attachments to said golden calves (cf. nomar). so the way we get over it is to basically just put all our trust in theo, trust that whatever he's doing, he's got the right idea.

i personally don't think that he's betrayed that trust yet, although not all of his moves have worked out as planned. i even see the resignation over the winter as the right thing to do at the time, and it shows, in my mind, his irreverence, his iconoclasm...and his balls to the wall honesty. that's key to the trust RSN puts in him.

and if you think that's mindless following, or it's wrong to root for the laundry, i hope you boo johnny damon every time he comes to the plate this season. because he's the enemy! and he can't shut up about the red sox and how hurt he is that he's not with them anymore!

but you're not rooting for johnny damon the fucked-up, media-whoring person! you're rooting for the pinstripes. and in my book, that is ok.

//fans of teams with no chance or a smaller chance look at us flipping our shit and go, "Oh my god, SHUT UP."//

ok. this makes sense. probably if i were them i might feel the same way. however--and me and sam have gone round and round and round and round about this philosophical thing--in my world, the fact that it sucks to be a fan of the detroit tigers worse than it sucks to be a red sox fan or it sucks to be a fan of the colorado rockies worse than being a tigers fan or whatever scale of arbitrary values you want to assign to it, doesn't mean that being a red sox fan is without its frustrations that are genuine. i know there are a lot of ppl who feel better if they consider that other ppl are in worse situations than them. but personally--if i'm sick, it sucks. it doesn't matter that i have a cold or flu and not malaria or ebola, it still sucks that i am sick. and yeah, i'm not gonna be thinking, oh, it sucks worse to be an arizona diamondbacks fan if manny whiffs with the bases loaded. it still sucks that he did that! you know?

wow, i used the word "sucks" a lot in that last paragraph.

so anyway. that at least helps me understand the hatin' a little bit, though...although i STILL don't get how that leads to "TEH FANZ MAEK TEH PLAIRS KILL OHT3R PPL!!!!!11!!" but perhaps there are just things that exist beyond understanding.

Cathryn

Oh, I'm totally with you, and also liking the illness analogy. But if you're sick and need a doctor and you have insurance, the minimum wage earner with the recurring cough who won't qualify for her workplace's insurance for another six months doesn't wanna hear it, you know? It doesn't make your problem any less for you, but someone in more dire straits ain't gonna be impressed.

As for making the players kill each other - yeah, there are a lot of dumb people in every fanbase. That's really the only explanation I've got.

Beth

if we want to overextend this analogy even further...

//But if you're sick and need a doctor and you have insurance, the minimum wage earner with the recurring cough who won't qualify for her workplace's insurance for another six months doesn't wanna hear it, you know? It doesn't make your problem any less for you, but someone in more dire straits ain't gonna be impressed.//

i'm not trying to "impress" anyone. and if the minimum wage earner feels like it's all about her, well, there's nothing i can do about it. doesn't justify saying i have no right to feel ill or that my illness is less severe in my book.

i totally get what you're saying. but i still don't agree with it, basically.

Cathryn

Hey, no worries. I'm not trying to make you agree or feel defensive, just to explain how it is. It's not very nice, but it is what I'm seeing. Myself, I think it kind of sucks, but I also understand it, so I've decided not to worry about it.

I'm sorry you have to miss opening day, but I have you manage to have some fun during your work thing.

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