A Bleacher Bum’s Rant


I’ve been a Red Sox fan ever since I can remember. Through thick and thin – and for a long time it was mighty thin. My dad took me to my first game in 1967; it wasn’t long before I was hopping the T to Fenway Park on my own. I watched Yaz, Tony C., Jim Lonborg, and Rico play. Even though they lost the series, even though there was no bloody sock, no Japanese superstars, they were magic. And I watched them and watch them still: Yaz, Pudge, the Rocket-before-steroids, Shill, Big Papi. Louis Tiant, Jim Rice, Mo Vaughn – hell, even Juan Beniquez!

I was a bleacher bum. I was one of the Fenway Faithful, back in the days before yearly play off games, before the curse was broken.

I’ve sat in the Lone Red Seat, watched balls bounce off the Green Monster. And although I don’t actually remember Duffy’s Cliff – I know what it was. Yesterday, I wondered if Bobby Valentine did. I wondered if John Henry, or Ben Cherrington did.

Over the years there have been players and coaches who have endeared themselves to me, to Boston, to Red Sox Nation. Rarely have any of them been treated as badly as Terry Francona was last fall. I was speechless when he was fired. It was such a… such a Yankee move! Tito was a hero, beloved by players and fans alike.

I wasn’t excited when spring training started. I looked at Valentine’s profile – really? A sportscaster?  So, like, he’s not a coach, but he played one on TV?

Hello John Henry? This new coach of yours hasn’t been in a dugout in a decade! What the hell?

Now, that’s not to say the team doesn’t have other stuff going on. It does. The DL is filling with valuable men, and the bullpen… well, there isn’t really one to speak of. Add to that, that the Sox, historically, have not been a strong spring team – they pick up after the All Star game.

I wonder what Tito’s speech to the team would have sounded like.  No, I don’t wonder that. Because he would have made appropriate decisions, juggled the bullpen better. He and his team would not have blown a 9-0 lead—after the fifth inning. The Red Sox have not blown a 9-0 lead since 1987. And to the Yankees? At Fenway?

It seems, at least to this fan, that Mr. Valentine has worked to offend and alienate the players. Fans despise him. Fans, I might add, Mr. Henry, that have filled every seat at Fenway Park for the last 719 games… Fans that have helped to make you a rich man.

A struggling team does not need a divisive leader. It needs someone who isn’t going to say things like, “I think we’ve hit bottom — that’s what I told them after the game,” – way to build confidence there, Bobby.

I think the comment that bothered me most was “Every day, it’s just learning. It’s a whole new world for me. I’m learning the league, and I’m learning about my own team.” Wow! Is this what a struggling team needs someone just learning the ropes—especially when the team had a coach, a beloved coach, with lots of experience and pennants under his belt?

I don’t live in Boston anymore. But I watch. And boo with the Fenway Faithful – who pay more per game than I paid per season – every time Bobby V takes to the field.

I was one of the voices on Twitter yesterday voicing my opinion about the front office choices – I waited eagerly for the closed door meeting to end – knowing that Valentine would be fired. I am disappointed he wasn’t.

I hope John Henry is talking to Tito – I hope Tito is holding out for better money. I’m worried that if the Red Sox don’t make some managerial changes that the team will usurp the Orioles last place position, that the Fenway Faithful, Red Sox Nation can forget about baseball going into October. I wonder if the box office will see more sell out games. In a way, I hope not. Because money talks. I wonder if silence and empty seats would speak louder than chants of “We want Tito!”

Mr. Valentine, this isn’t ESPN, you cannot touch up your make-up during the break. This is Boston, where the fans live and breathe baseball. They have come to expect heroes in both their players and coaches. You have not met that expectation and fans will continue to chant for the wronged coach that led their team to two World Series championships, We want Tito!

 

 

 

 

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