Don’t Change Yawkey Way

John Henry wants to change Yawkey Way to a different name, because Yawkey was a racist. Of course his suggestion is to rename it after David Ortiz, because Ortiz doesn’t have enough shit named after or given to him these days. The best part is that he called it a “haunting reminder” of the city’s “history of racial intoleramce”, as though he just bought the fucking team yesterday and hasn’t owned it since 2002.

Tom Yawkey was racist. That much is true. He gave Jackie Robinson a workout back before he was signed to the Dodgers, but he had no real intention of signing him and passed on other legends like Willie Mays, who probably would have gotten the Sox to a world series playing with other legends like Yaz. 

But Yawkey was tremendously important to the Sox. The team was following the tailspin of losing every hall of famer, great player, even decent player from previous mismanagement (particularly Harry Frazee), and watching the Yankees buy up all of their talent to win championship after championship. They didn’t win a World Series, but they contended for several, and played in three, during his ownership. He prevented the Sox from the potential of moving out of Boston or perpetually feeding the New York roster with developing stars, which would probably be worse. 

Yawkey was also a beloved member of the community of Boston, according to people who knew him at the time. His charitable contributions were enormous. The Jimmy Fund, truly one of the greatest organizations in our country, wouldn’t be nearly as successful as they are today without his constant support. 

We can’t pretend that Yawkey’s only characteristic was that he was racist. We don’t have to and shouldn’t justify it. but at the same time we can’t say that it prevented him from doing anything good for Boston and for the Sox. We can find fault with literally any historical figure in any circumstance, and there can be an argument against momuments or public recognition of any of them. In this case, John Henry is clearly caving to social pressure from a very small minority of vocal protestors, many of whom couldn’t care less about the Sox or their history. 

If You Think Celebration In Baseball Is Bad, Then Shut Up

We get it. You hate fun.

It’s very natural and human to celebrate doing something well, especially in sports. Celebration dances in the NFL were great until Roger “Adolf” Goodell decided to get involved. Soccer allows a full several minutes worth of dancing after a goal. The NBA hasn’t cracked down on celebrating after a nice run or a game winning shot. 

For some reason, baseball fans like to pretend they’re better than everyone else because their players don’t express emotion when they succeed. If they do, they’re told to “act like you’ve been there before”, or “act like an adult” as though adults never express joy. 

There are plenty of fans who love watching guys show emotion during the game which they’ve devoted a significant portion of their life to perfecting. Particularly younger fans would love to see more outbursts, fights, attitude, and swagger. It’s dull to watch a hunch of guys going through the motions of playing without any heart or passion. Playing baseball isn’t meant to look like a Bill Belichick press conference; it’s a game. 

So if you think people shouldn’t show emotion or express anything during games, shut up. Don’t start getting on the Sox outfielders’ case for the “win, dance, repeat” gatherings after wins. Don’t get on your high horse every time the benches clear after an argument or a HBP. Especially dont complain when players fight- those are some of the most memorable things about some of the best rivalries (like the great Sox-Yankees fights of 2003-04). Let them play ball and react to what happens with all the passion that they have for the game.

What’s Going On- Part 2

Here we go again!

In my second round of unexpected events, we return to the Pablo Sandoval saga. He is of course back with the Giants, called up to replace a guy named Belt (because God loves irony). He has 2 hits in 7 at bats now, which is better than his stats in Boston already. But Pablo isn’t the focus here.

The story is Barstool’s Boston super fan Jared Carrabis’s fans throwing down the gauntlet with the most expected of opponents: Smash Mouth. The band. The Shrektacular band apparently loves the guy, probably because he actually gave a shit when he was in San Francisco back in 2014, while Carrabis followers took up the banner of Boston and attacked his lethargy. The band seems to think that it’s cool that he openly gave up after getting a big payday. Carrabis, for his part, didn’t want to get into it with Smash a mouth, despite the potential for a throwdown of the ages. 

Personally, I like Smash Mouth. They have some fun songs, and I liked All Star a lot even before seeing Shrek and before it became a meme. Carrabis, on the other hand, is one of the best baseball writers in the business, and his Sox coverage is far more entertaining than anything ESPN or even NESN ever produces. In a battle of baseball wit, Carrabis would certainly have the edge, especially given that the subject is Sandoval’s performance.

However he performs in San Francisco, Boston fans will never forgive him for taking so much money and mailing it in. Such unprofessional behavior is indicative of an issue with accountability in baseball: once they get paid, it doesn’t matter how they play. Is it time to change the CBA? Should teams be protected from players who openly and blatantly take huge deals and then decide not to even try to earn it? Should MLB contracts be structured more like NFL contracts, with only some guaranteed money so the player actually has to play well?

Let’s Not Get Carried Away

Sports fans tend to overreact, and nowhere is this more drastic than in Boston (besides maybe Dallas, but that’s only sometimes with football). One win for the Sox means the world series is ours. One win for the Celtics means the era of Bill Russell is inevitable. But one loss for the Patriots means that Brady is done, one loss for the Bruins means they’re eliminated from the playoffs, and one loss for the Sox means that it’s time to fire everyone, trade the farm, and rebuild.

The Sox lost to the Angels last night, in a kind of ugly game. The million dollar man David Price had a sub par game (despite that he’s been pretty good, excellent even, after coming back from injury), the offense struggled after taking an early lead, and the same reaction comes: the team needs to be completely revamped. The pitchers suck, the bullpen is untrustworthy, and they need to trade 40% of their farm system and roster for power hitting. 

But this is a classic Boston overreaction. As much as I love watching sports and enjoying the discussions involved, and the inevitable bickering between analysts and callers to the radio, it’s annoying that so many people act like the team needs an overhaul every time someone grounds out. This team is actually a much bigger contender than people give them credit for. Chris Sale is having a Pedro-esque season, Pomeranz is pitching far better than I thought he could, Price is recovering from elbow injury and performing well, and the fill in fifth starters have been decent as well. Even Porcello, who has been underwhelming at times after a Cu Young season, has had some fantastic outings ruined by offensive struggles. The bullpen have been good as well, especially all star Craig Kimbrel. The offense is not nearly as bad as people think- most of the fielders have solid hitting averages, and the outfield especially has provided excellent defense.

There is room for improvement. Power hitting is certainly an issue, as they’ve had troubles generating runs. Their home run totals are astonishingly bad, but improving. A power bat would be great to have, but giving up too much for it would be a mistake. Another bullpen arm would be a great benefit, but I don’t trust Dombrowski to give a reasonable deal after the Thornberg deal (in which he incidentally gave up someone who has 22 homers so far). Adding a regular third baseman is, I think, their biggest need, but again I think it’s best not to overpay and to work with Lin, Holt, and Rutledge for the time being. 

The biggest issue, I think, is that the team has nobody to take charge and rally everyone. Ortiz filled that role when he was here. Right now, they have nobody with that kind of personality. Ramirez only tries half the time, Pedroia tends to lead quietly (which can work when there’s another dominant personality like Ortiz), and Bette, Bogaerts, and the other young players aren’t experienced enough to really take charge yet. Added with a somewhat lackluster manager, it may be a good idea to find a veteran player who wants a ring and would be a leader in the clubhouse, if one could be found for a decent price. 

We overreact way too much to our sports teams. Especially with the Sox, it’s best to be patient and let the season play out without demanding the team completely rework itself. The core of the team is still developing in skill, and if they can keep that together, maintain the pitching staff, and trim some of the fat (like they did last week!) the team could have something really special.