Saturday, June 10, 2006

This man is the man I have
on my mind today!

I'll tell you who he is.
This is my opposite number!

General Bogel, commanding
the Second German Armored Division!

When I look at that face,
I can read that character.

This guy's a loser.

Here I am sitting in his headquarters.

I'm drinking his scotch.

I've even got one of his broads
hanging around here somewhere.

The guy's a born loser...

...but you, gentlemen,
have not buried him yet.

-You call yourselves leaders of men?

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. As you might have gathered, the picture at the top of this post isn't General Bogel. It is, believe it or not, Terry Francona from his days as manager of the Birmingham Barons. The text is from the script of Kelly's Heroes, a highly underrated film starring Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland and many others (including Uncle Leo from Seinfeld). I copied it from Drew's Script-o-rama.

The lines above are delivered by General Colt, played brilliantly by the late Carrol O'Connor, better known as Archie Bunker. Truly one of the great comic geniuses of all time. I think they apply quite nicely to the manager of the Red Sox. Not that he holds a commission in the German army, drinks heavily or is anything but an excellent family man. I just think that particular scene I'm quoting is so well written and delivered that it would have been a shame to edit it lest I offend people I'm trying to offend already.

When I look at Francona, I see a loser. I don't wish him any specific misfortune, outside of failure with the Red Sox. If he managed any other team, I wouldn't have anything against him. But so long as he's here, I hope he loses a lot of games.

There is something about Francona that screams incompetence to me. I am willing to concede that I might be blind to his virtues as a leader and a manager because of my irrational hatred for the team he manages and the uniform he wears. Terry Francona has a vacant expression as he watches from the dugout. He seems tired and overwhelmed. He might not be as bad as Grady Little, but it seems to me that he takes a lot of risk in leaving pitchers in the game too long.

And yet, he wins. Perhaps he's like some sort of idiot savant (I'm willing to concede the first, but I see little evidence of the savant in him). Some sort of Forrest Gump manages the Red Sox, blundering into wins, handling the difficult players with some sort of homespun lunacy and thwarting my desire to see the team fail. It's very frustrating.

This is why we have the Kelly's Heroes quote. Terry Francona was born to lose games for the Red Sox. Every other manager in baseball should be working to make sure that he does. To this point, they haven't delivered (with the notable exception of Ozzie Guillen) anywhere near as often as they should have. So MLB managers, you call yourselves leaders of men? Prove it by beating this man and his team of misfit toys.

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