Exhibit A That The Red Sox Have Become… Cough… The Yankees: The Farrell Firing
The 1975 World Series was the first I remember. The Boston Red Sox lost. But, I have been a fan ever since. For decades, it was a tortured existence. From a painful one-game playoff loss to the Yankees in 1978 to the 2003 ALCS loss, the team is responsible for the most painful losses in all of my sports viewing years. I’m a real-life Jimmy Fallon in the American version of the movie, “Fever Pitch.”
Then 2004 happened! One of the most insane postseasons of any lifetime, especially for a Red Sox fan. It was so stressful… and awesome all at the same time.
After 2004, there were two more titles in 2007 and 2013. Each had its own personality. They are like your kids -you love them all but you may like one a bit more than the others.
Before 2004, the Sox went 86 years without a title. It was painful. But the pain should be eased now with three titles.
But, it hasn’t. What has happened is that Red Sox Nation has gotten greedy with their high expectations.
The team has become the Yankees: bloated payrolls, obnoxious owners, irrational decisions. The team and the fans expect a World Series title every year. Anything short and someone has to pay. This week Red Sox Manager John Farrell paid with his job.
Whenever I turned on a Boston sports radio station this year, the hosts were calling for Farrell’s head. Twitter: same thing.
I flat out don’t get it.
Did Farrell make questionable moves throughout his this season and his Red Sox managerial career?
Yes, but so do most managers (see Buck Showalter and Joe Maddon in 2016’s postseason, they are considered two of the better managers in baseball.)
And Farrell’s decisions this year weren’t the problem.
As one of the final eight teams in 2017, I would suggest that the Red Sox were the 7th or 8th best team.
To be bounced early in the postseason was no surprise to me. I could feel it in July, I predicted a quick exit if they made it to the playoffs. Most of the Sox games during the season were extremely painful to watch. There were many tight games where the bullpen melted down or hung on just enough to win. There were very few blowouts, which were hallmarks of all the recent Red Sox World Series teams.
Here is what Red Sox nation does not want to hear, “The 2017 Red Sox were not that good.”
But, somehow John Farrell got 93 wins out of them and their first back-to-back AL East titles, ever! He had very good starting pitching for most of the year and an awesome defensive outfield. But that came with a very light-hitting offense.
The Sox were last in the league in home runs for the first time since 1920. You will not go deep into the postseason without home run power. The new era of baseball is all about power, power pitching and power offense. The Sox had one and not the other.
The team also seemed to have no soul. General Manager Dave Dombrowski did nothing to replace David Ortiz in the lineup for 2017. Farrell can’t just create a new David Ortiz. Major league players pretty much own their own locker room. They police each other and leaders emerge. None did this year for the Red Sox.
The previous title teams all had an extended list of great clubhouse guys. David Ortiz was on all three, but you can look at the additional help he had in the other years. In 2004 it was Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, Gabe Kapler, Curt Schilling, Jason Varitek etc. In 2007 it was Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek. In 2013 it was David Ross, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes.
In 2017, Hanley Ramirez wanted to be that guy. He wasn’t. He was nowhere to be found.
And still, Farrell won 93 games.
Let’s compare Farrell’s resume to Dombrowski’s. Farrell has won two championships: one as a pitching coach in 2007, one as a manager in 2013. Dombrowski has one title as a GM: 1997 with the Marlins. He was also the GM for the Tigers from 2002 to 2015. The results there: no titles.
Speaking of no titles, the Cleveland Indians just got eliminated in the first round this year.
Given how the Indians were part of a terrific World Series last year, but came up just short, would you fire their manager, Terry Francona? Oh wait, the Sox already did… after the Sox “Chickengate” scandal of 2011.
Since 2000, two teams have won at least three World Series titles, the Red Sox and the Giants. If you asked fans from the other 28 cities if they would take that, we know what their answer would be.
So, Red Sox Nation, chill out. You of all fans should know you can’t win the World Series every year. All you can really hope for is that the team is competitive every year, which the Sox are almost every year.
Simply put, it is not always the manager’s fault if you don’t win.