Obnoxious Boston Fan. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. He’s the latest in a long string of irrational writers the Boston Globe, once a paragon of sports media, has on their payroll. Their sole purpose? Creating visceral reactions that drive newspaper sales and internet traffic. I don’t begrudge the Globe’s effort to turn a profit, I do have an issue with the manner in which they do it; at least when it comes to the sports section.
Before I dive any further into this, I do want to mention that there are a few members of the Boston media, and Boston Globe in particular, for whom I have a great deal of respect. Despite my recaps of the Cafardo mailbag and jokes about his overwhelming man crush for Bobby Valentine, I think Nick Cafardo is a hell of a reporter. The same is true of Peter Abraham. While I may disagree with him at times, all of my interactions with him have been overwhelmingly pleasant. And of course, no list such as this would be complete without Chad Finn and the immortal Bob Ryan.
The problem with the Globe, in my opinion, is they’ve chosen to eschew rational journalism for the Fox News/MSNBC/Talk Radio format, which is based solely on emotion. Facts? We don’t need your facts! We have biased opinions, soundbites, and inneundo! Just as the political world has turned its eyes away from moderate majority, it seems sports journalism is doing the same thing. Obnoxious Boston Fan is proof of this fact.
This writer, who uses only a pseudonym in his byline,* makes the claim that he “reports from the couch, not the press box.” While I don’t doubt he’s not only never set foot in the press box, but also writes from the comfort of his couch (just like me), I would argue that he’s not reporting, but editorialising. To report something, one must report facts. They need direct first-person quotes, sources, play-by-play information, analysis, etc. OBF’s articles lack even a shred of those things. Much like this piece here, it’s opinion based…an editorial. He’s getting on his soapbox, and venting his anger out to the world. As most of us have learned though, words expressed under the duress of anger rarely sit well after a period of reflection.
* In full disclosure, one of my favorite writers, The Common Man who writes The Platoon Advantage, also writes under a pseudonym. I’m not finding fault in OBF or TCM doing so.
On Friday, OBF dropped his latest piece on Theo Epstein as if it was a badge of honor. In every possible way, it was the complete opposite of the piece I wrote. Rather than remembering the great achievements of the previous decade, he chooses only to spew venom at the architect of two championship teams–the only two championship teams in the last 94 years. Yeah, clearly Theo was a moron who lucked into success. What a jerk!
Let’s take a look at OBF’s latest article, and do it up Fire Joe Morgan style. It’s been far too long since I did one of these. And by the way…Obnoxious Boston Fan’s name is the most painfully accurate name since Dan Lebatard is Highly Questionable came on the air. Way to hit the nail right on the head.
What hath Theo wrought!
Theo Epstein’s last-place Cubs beat Theo Epstein’s last-place Red Sox 3-0 Friday at Wrigley Field. Ruined a perfectly good Friday afternoon. Two more games, both on national TV this weekend, coming up.
Dan Duquette’s Orioles took the field Friday night for a shot at first place.
Right off the bat you can tell this is going to be an awful, pretentious piece of garbage. What hath Theo wrought? I’m pretty sure I just threw up a leg. Look, let’s get one thing straight. You are not Shakespeare. You will never be Shakespeare. Quite frankly, after reading your work, I’m not sure you’ve even heard of Shakespeare. It might be a good idea if you stick to your general reading level–the collected works of Judy Blume.
Haven’t we gotten to a point where it’s time to stop making Theo Epstein/Dan Duquette comparisons? the Duke was fired after the 2001 season, and remained an unemployed General Manager until this past year. Furthermore, if you’re going to penalize Epstein for his posthumous affect on this year’s Red Sox club, shouldn’t you credit Andy McPhail for the success of the 2012 Orioles? While Duquette made a few moves that have certainly helped the club, McPhail built the majority of the team from scratch.
A year ago on Father’s Day, the Bruins paraded the Stanley Cup into Fenway Park with all the splendor of the Allies marching into Paris. And like Europe after World War II, an Iron Curtain has descended across the Boston sports scene. The Bruins, Celtics and Patriots have all since reached the postseason and enjoyed various levels of success, if not leadership stability. The Red Sox, however, are giving Greece a run for its money when it comes to chaos and turmoil.
Yeah, you’re right. The Red Sox only won 90 games last year. Freaking lazy bastards. Let’s forget that they won the same number of games won by the 2011 World Champion, St. Louis Cardinals. Let’s forget that they fell out of playoff contention on the very last day of the season. Let’s forget that they play in the stacked AL East with a pair of titans. Let’s forget that had we been playing under the 2012 playoff rules last season, the Red Sox would have made the playoffs. Let’s forget the Red Sox have won at least 90 games every year since 2007. Let’s forget that the front office has remained almost entirely entact save for Epstein accepting a promotion to work with the Chicago Cubs. Yeah. It sounds like the entire enterprise is a total disaster…
The Red Sox remain leaderless, clueless and are fast making 2012 pointless. Theo went out of his way this week to again shift the blame for the Red Sox 1,335-day playoff victory drought on “the Monster” or other demonic forces who also go by the name of Larry, Caroline and Wally.
Leaderless? Hmmm…I guess David Ortiz holding a team meeting to rally his teammates isn’t being a leader. I guess Dustin Pedroia sticking up for Kevin Youkilis in the aftermath of Bobby Valentine’s inappropriate remarks isn’t being a leader. I guess Adrian Gonzalez volunteering to temporarily move to right field for the good of the team isn’t be a leader.
Clueless and fast making 2012 pointless? I’d like to how you’d handle a situation where your top four outfielders landed on the disabled list over the same period. That is what has happened to Ben Cherington this season. Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross, and Ryan Sweeney are all on the DL as of yesterday. Replacing them is a woefully out of position Gonzalez, a prospect, and three fringe major league players. I don’t think it’s far fetched to say these injuries have cost the Red Sox 4-6 wins in the standings alone. What would be your plan to fix the situation? How would you improve your team’s performance? So far, I’m hearing an awful lot of bitching. Where are your solutions?
Theo often gets too much credit for the Red Sox success in 2004 and 2007 and not enough of the blame and/or responsibility for the team’s struggles since. He signed David Ortiz when some folks still knew him as David Arias, hustled to reel-in Curt Schilling (sorry Rhode Island taxpayers) in the wreckage or 2003 and showed major grit and baseballs pulling off the Nomar trade. His drafting skills (Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz among others) put Bill Belichick and Danny Ainge to shame. He gets half the applause/jeers for Josh Beckett since Jed and Ben made the trade that brought Beckett, Mike Lowell and that second 21st century ring to Boston. Theo did begrudgingly (as he would tell it) use John Henry money’s to re-sign Beckett twice. By the way, Beckett has been scratched from Saturday’s start because of shoulder inflammation. Look for him on the back-nine at Medinah sometime around noon.
I don’t understand the point of this paragraph. It seems like it’s all an elaborate set up to make a juvinile (and incredibly flat) joke about Josh Beckett being hurt and playing golf. Dude, that was six weeks ago. Get over it. With the exception of his first start after the so-called GolfGate story broke, he has a 2.68 ERA with a 30/6 K/BB ratio in his last 43-2/3 innings. Yeah, that’s pretty awful. Terrible. Nope, he hasn’t looked like the best pitcher on the staff for the past seven turns in the rotation. But while we’re making cracks about Beckett, do you have any fresh fried chicken and beer jokes you’d like to share, OBF?
Beckett aside, Theo’s list of mega-flops would make the producers of “John Carter.” “Heaven’s Gate” and “Battleship” blush.
There are so many things wrong with this section, it’s not even funny. While it’s true most of these did not turn out as well as hoped, it’s somewhat unfair to judge a decision in hindsight. Each one of these moves (save for maybe Lugo and Lackey) seemed like the right move to make at the time. Despite the naysayers, Drew was incredibly productive during the first four years of his tenure. Every GM in baseball wanted to sign Diasuke Matsuzaka when he became available. Gagne had been lights out in Texas, and every Red Sox fan alive thought his acquisition was a great move. Crawford has had one bad season and one that’s been injury riddled. Let’s give him a little more time. And Jenks…well, that’s just bad luck. A botched back surgery and a brush with death is something no one could have predicted.
I will give him credit for Lackey and Lugo being bad moves. Lugo was a 32 year old shortstop when he was signed, and it was pretty crazy to assume he would continue to produce at the 3-4 fWAR per season level for the entirety of his contract. It probably would have been smarter to re-sign Alex Gonzalez.
Lackey, on the other hand, was a number three starter masquerading as an ace. While he’d been an ace at one point (2005-2007), he’d suffered from a series of shoulder and elbow injuries, which compromised his performance and projectability. Still, the issue with Lackey’s acquisition wasn’t the signing itself, but instead. the contract to which he was signed. Five years and $82.5M was far too much to give to him. While I understand this was the “market rate” for a pitcher with his resume, I’ve always felt the Red Sox should have held the line at three years. Long-term contracts for pitchers on the wrong side of 30 risky as it is. Deals beyond three years is suicidal.
And coming to a big screen near you, Adrian Gonzalez. Among the players the Red Sox gave up for Gonzalez is Anthony Rizzo, who is back with Epstein and Jed Hoyer in the Cubs organization. After his first 60 games in Iowa this season, Rizzo had 22 HR and 57 RBI while batting .367 and led Class AAA in slugging (.753) and OPS (1.182). Malpractice suit anyone?
Rizzo could be this generation’s Jeff Bagwell if the Cubs ever decide to call him up.
I like to call this section “Great Moments in Overreacting.” There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t really know where to begin. First of all, Adrian Gonzalez was one of the best players in all of baseball last season. Yes, he’s struggling, but I’m not willing to give up on him after a few months of underperformance. Extended slumps happen to everyone. Chances are, he’ll bust out of it before too long.
Secondly, Anthony Rizzo is an unproven prospect. Any time you can trade a proven perennial All-Star for an unproven commodity still toiling in AA (at the time), you have to do it. It’s that simple. Additionally, Rizzo is tearing it up in the Pacific Coast League. I don’t want to make light of his performance, but everyone has crazy numbers in the PCL. The majority of the parks in that league are heavily skewed towards offense. It’s not uncommon for a guy to hit like Lou Gehrig in the PCL, and then Nick Punto in the majors.
Thirdly, OBF would have screamed and yelled all throughout the 2010-2011 offseason had Epstein not pulled the trigger on this deal. He’s purposely being contrarian. Guys like him are only happy when the Red Sox are miserable.
As for malpractice, I’d like to sue OBF for representing himself as a member of Red Sox Nation. He does not, and will not, ever speak for me.
Theo would have us believe he was pressured into spending all that money foolishly by ownership and/or other forces that were only worried about pleasing the “Pink Hats” and NESN sponsors. Theo hasn’t been in Chicago long enough to do much damage. He never planned to stay at Fenway forever and when he left that age-old complaint surfaced, through others of course, that poor little Theo didn’t have time in nasty old Beantown to enjoy simple things in life like dinner with his family. Again, maybe he can have lunch with Steve Bartman after the Cubs win the World Series in 3004.
It never ceases to amaze me that people don’t understand the concept of intrinsic motivation. Not every person is motivated by money, fringe benefits, and other forms of compensation. I know it’s difficult for many of us to understand because we’re stuck in miserable jobs that we hate, but it’s true. Epstein is driven by the need to succeed and blaze new trails. In Boston, he’d twice scaled a mountain, countless GMs before him failed to scale. He built a player development system that became the envy of every team in the league. He developed a front office culture that was based on top notch scouting and objective analysis/decision-making. He’d done everything he had wanted to do in Boston, except win a third championship. When an offer…a promotion, mind you…came up to be President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs…a team that hasn’t won a championship since 1908…it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that he was more than interested in taking the job. This was not only a new challenge, but it was an opportunity to cement his legacy as one of the great front office generals in baseball’s history. He would get credit for turning around not one, but two star-crossed, franchises. He would have been an idiot not to take the job.
Theo’s “the Devil made me do it” excuse for the Red Sox bloated and inefficient payroll screams loud and clear the reason why this team continues to go nowhere at full speed. The Red Sox are the same team that fell apart at the end of last season. Theo’s fingerprints are all over the place at 4 Yawkey Way. And you know he just loved injecting himself back into the debate when he joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger and Mazz and WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan this week. His passive-aggressive ego wouldn’t have it any other way.
Oh, the irony. OBF failing to realize that he’s a big part of “The Monster” Theo was talking about last week is truly priceless. The complete and total lack of self-awareness is completely unparalleled.
Theo wants a pass because he wasn’t given enough freedom from ownership to develop players. If the Red Sox were so opposed to player development, how did Pedroia, Ellsbury, Buchholz and the rest of those players we laud Theo for drafting make it to the majors before being traded?
Theo spent the week hinting he was opposed to deals like the Gonzalez trade because the Red Sox needed the occasional bridge year to develop talent like Rizzo. First off, the Red Sox have had four bridge years since 2007, including 2011 – which was known as the “Jump off the Tobin Bridge Year.”
Each of the players OBF mentions were ones that were developed prior to 2007. With each success comes additional pressure to keep it going. We’ve seen this externally as we’ve watched Red Sox Nation convert from a fan base of “loveable losers” to one that’s comparable to the most entitled of Yankee fans. Fans don’t just want a championship, they expect it. To not win a championship is a failure.
Internally, something similar may have happened. We’ve seen this before with the Yankees. During the mid-1990s, the Yankees were very similar to the 2003-2011 Red Sox. Player development, smart trades, and shrewd free agent signings were a way of life in the Bronx. As a reward for their patience, they won four championships in five seasons between 1996 and 2000. And then they lost in the 2001 World Series, and all hell broke loose. Suddenly, signing every big free agent on the market became the Yankee way. They served as a band-aid for a larger problem–the well that was their farm system had gone dry. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars they spent on top tier players, they failed to recapture the playoff success of their hey-day. Sound familiar?
This is the problem with maintaining a dynasty in the media-dominated free agent era. One misstep can change everything. It’s difficult to maintain patience when a quick fix is freely available. This is what “The Monster” breeds. Like it or not, we are just as complicit in the Red Sox’s current situation. We may not be making the decisions; but we as writers, fans, sports radio contributors are doing nothing but making “The Monster” more hungry.