Sunday, October 2, 2011

Theo and Tito

I have been a minion of the Evil Empire, a New York Yankees fan, my whole life-or at least the part of it I'm able to remember. I have dim memories of a Johnny Keane-managed Saint Louis Cardinals beating a grown-old and complacent Yankees franchise in the '64 Series and the Yankees hiring Keane away to manage them the following year (and but a part of the year that followed that) where they failed to get anywhere near the World Series. They dumped Keane immediately but the winning didn't return again for awhile.

This was back when there was a National and an American League and each had twelve or so teams (I imagine a ballgame in the 9th place team's park in mid-September was a lonely affair). It was before we had multiple divisions within each and a mathematical formula borrowed from NASA to determine who the wild card team was (something to do with if you're taller than the team in front of you and own the tiebreaker in head to head competition and can spell chrysanthemum while fire ants are placed in your ear canal and you hop on one foot).

It's all different from the game of my youth, but some things never change. Success has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan, and the orphanage is never as close as the day after a sports season ends. Especially if that season ends faster or more suddenly than was anticipated. In the last week of this year's season, even as his team played out the string of meaningless games, Mr. Bombast and Braggadocio announced he was done in the Windy City and then, the next day, that he would be taking his song and dance south. Good luck Bobby Del Ray-I have a feeling you'll be needing it.

And on the first day after the season ended, one those disappointed preterites who ended up outside looking in, kept insisting it wasn't blaming their team's manager, the one who had broken their 86 year Series drought at the mid-decade mark and, a few seasons later, then delivered another championship ring. When you play in America's Most Beloved Ballpark, like the banner in the outfield proclaims, it can be hard to remember the owners paid to make and hang it in the first place. Truth at all costs and at all times is a wonderful thing, but it can't hit a hanging slider to left with a guy at second worth a damn.

Even though you can't bowl in Fenway Park, it was obvious to those of us who live amongst the Red Sox Nation that heads would roll. And it didn't take long-though I'm wondering if just the one is all it will take or if, in true Red Sox fashion, they'll announce another human sacrifice, probably on the day after Thanksgiving which is when they like to unveil season ticket price increases and such. I do wonder, as a barbarian in the Kingdom of Blood Red Hosiery, how much more precipitous the collapse would have been had Francona not been at the helm-but such questions are NOT popular right now anywhere in The Nation (and good luck with that 'rest' thing).

Let's face it, you can't fire the team, right? Ask Billy Martin, whom I suspect never actually ever cleared his desk out in the manager's office in old Yankees Stadium, since he knew the day would come that he'd return. A skin-covered boomerang. Meanwhile I'm hard pressed to remember any of Terry Francona's predecessors...there was Butch Hobson whom, as I recall, was later connected with some nasty business involving narcotics while toiling in the hinterlands and Kevin Kennedy, with a pencil thin mustache that helped his team's on-field performance not a jot.

In the last ninety-three years, the Boston Red Sox have won two World Series and Theo Epstein was their general manager and Terry Francona their on-field manager for both. So much for the hat-trick, speaking of which, here's yours, Tito, and don't let the clubhouse door hit you in the ass on the way out. You may want to hang at the corner to let the boy wonder turned blunder catch up. He's looking a bit chuffed right now with skin like iron, whose breath's as hard as kerosene.
-bill kenny


Adam Kenny said...

Listening to Francona's farewell press conference Friday night, I was reminded of Pat Riley. Riley is the one who has said that no matter how successful you are as a coach and a manager your shelf life in any one situation is limited b/c at some point the men in the room need to hear another voice. I think Francona said as much himself.

It may be unpopular to take this position among Yankees fans but while I'll never meet Francona, Joe Torre has always spoken of him highly and as someone who respects and likes Torre a great deal, that is more than good enough for me.

I wish him well....hopefully in the National League.

dweeb said...

He seemed to be far more than a good manager-he is a good person.