Monday, August 21, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen, after long absence, I'm back. It's quite fortunate for me that it coincides with the Boston Massacre 2006. When I last posted on July 24, the Sox were in first place. Now the Sox are 6 and 1/2 games back in the division and four back in the wildcard following today's loss. It's not every day that the team you hate above all others loses 5 consecutive games to their most hated rivals over the course of four days, so I trust you'll forgive me for gloating a little bit.

Unfortunately, nothing so enjoyable comes without cost. In this case, the cost is nearly substantial enough to outweigh the triumphant sweep. Dan Shaughnessy, better known to three generations of science fiction fans in the British Isles as Dr. Who, is back with a vengeance. This presents me with a dilemma. You who read this might think that because I wish to annoy and depress Red Sox Nation I should have no problem with the CHB. After all, his apparent goal in writing what he writes the way he writes it seems to be to cause the greatest amount of aggravation to the greatest number of New Englanders.

However, I do not like the CHB as a writer or as a guest commentator on various and sundry TV and radio programs. It is my opinion that his MO can be explained thusly: he wraps a misdirected sense of moral outrage in poorly worded prose rife with awful allusions and ghastly turns of phrase (just check my earlier post which enshrined him in the Max Mercy HOF). He pretends to be a defender of the people and a chronicler of Red Sox history because those two angles can fill half of his columns with the barest minimum of effort. And for some strange reason, he has decided that the safest place for him to conclude his not so illustrious career is safely (he hopes) ensconced in Larry Lucchino's pocket.

In another of my past posts (it's been so long that I am willing to commit the sin of self-reference again), I drew from the film Kelly's Heroes to criticize Terry Francona's managerial style. I will do so again, this time to draw an interesting parallel to the CHB, albeit one that is unfair to the original. In the film, there is an exchange between the platoon sergeant Big Joe played by Telly Savalas and the corrupt supply sergeant Crap Game played by the immortal Don Rickles. Big Joe accuses Crap Game of only taking risks when he smells a profit, and Crap Game's defense was merely to say: "Well, I'm coming out now." Shaughnessy's piece in this past Sunday's Globe was his version of emerging when he smelled a profit.

As much as it pains me to defend America's Prom Date, I think I have to now. I am amazed that Theo still has a job after the CHB so elegantly skewered him with this gem: "The computer-geek management style has been thoroughly exposed in the last two days and there's a perfect storm brewing upstairs on Yawkey Way." For an unfortunate change of pace this July/August, Dan Shaughnessy found himself in the cat bird seat.

If Theo didn't make a trade, the CHB could attack him for that. If Theo parted with one of his young arms to fill one or two of the holes that riddle his lineup and it didn't pan out, the CHB could have had a field day with that situation. Of course if Theo made that theoretical trade and the Prom Date turned out to be this generation's Lou Gorman (by that I mean selling a hot prospect to rent a player for a single pennant race), the CHB would be set to wind out his career rehashing that mistake 25 times a season until he retired. And in the worst case, if Theo had acquired Bobby Abreu, the CHB could complain that the Sox couldn't afford to take on the remainder of this season's salary, next year's $15 million and the $2 million buyout for 2008. It must be nice to have to do so little to earn your daily bread.

I can only hope that the CHB didn't strain his formidable intellect when he crafted this: "Odd that Henry would be celebrating Epstein's engagement at a time when the honeymoon is officially over for the most popular and bulletproof general manager in Boston sports history." The late, great Ernest Hemingway might have classified that as the one true sentence which he himself so desperately sought, provided that Hemingway were a dreadful writer and a mental midget.

Before the CHB stepped down from his soap box, he fired this parting shot at America's Prom Date: "The cruise is over and so is the free ride for Theo. No disgrace in that, it happens to all of them, but the Sox need a quick turnaround to keep Epstein out of the shark-infested waters that devoured the likes of Lou Gorman and Dan Duquette." I feel compelled to point out that the CHB tailored this piece around the engagement party John Henry threw for Theo on his yacht, lest you get the impression that the nautical references were completely from left field.

I was unaware that Theo got a free ride. After all, there was the CHB to carp (couldn't resist the bad pun against the shark-infested waters, which must surely have included a small element of ego on the part of the author) at him during his tenure as Sox GM. As for Theo being bulletproof and maybe sharing the fate of Lou Gorman and Dan Duquette, I can't believe that such a perceptive and enlightened knight of the keyboard could ignore one simple fact. Unlike Dan Duquette, Lou Gorman, Haywood Sullivan and every other GM from 1918 to 2004, Theo presided over a World Series championship team. Or maybe Dan happened to be on vacation in 2004. Maybe he had a lot of work to do in his side job, traveling in a phone booth protecting the space-time continuum against the Daleks.

There are a few other facts that the CHB might want to consider before he takes to the keyboard and charges Theo like Don Quixote going after the windmills. First, unless I missed something, no World Series champion has repeated since the Yankees in 2000. Second, the fans I talk to don't seem quite ready to mutiny. And third, he ran the show when the team won the World Series for the first time since 1918. I know, I said that before but it bears repeating.

Of course the piece wouldn't have been complete without a quote from the CHB's puppeteer, Larry Lucchino. The president of the Sox had this to say:

"This is not the best time for me to offer comment. I'm a little agitated, as
the average fan is. Everybody feels a sense of disappointment about these first
three games. I would understand if the manager is keenly disappointed in the way
these first three games have gone. It's still a long season. Come and talk to me

According to the CHB, John Henry was unavailable for comment. Theo, or "young Theo" as the CHB insists on calling him, was also unavailable when the CHB was writing his article. Of course, this was the day before America's Prom Date faced the press for his now famous 26 minute grilling on Sunday. I started wondering whether Lucchino kept the CHB locked up in his basement like the gimp from Pulp Fiction, but that was far too frightening a prospect to dwell on.

I had intended to gloat like crazy over the debacle that this series was. Then I started thinking that it might be just a little early to start a victory lap. The Red Sox have had an irritating habit of surviving improbable situations of late. So I was checking out some of the stories on And then I read the CHB's latest "effort." His article was so well conceived and well written that it inspired the pseudonymous author of Sedition in Red Sox Nation to waste his first post in nearly a month defending a guy he's attacked since the birth of this blog in April. It's amazing what a talented writer can achieve.

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