Saturday, September 24, 2011

International Editor Chimes In

Bi-Coastal Fear and Loathing. A tale of two columnists. The long knives are out.

by Ric Glaub, International Editor

September 23, 2011-Tashkent, Uzbekistan. While the Sox September free-fall sends shock waves of fear and angst through Red Sox Nation, the potential for a near-historic late season collapse has - not surprisingly - attracted a lot of attention. What is a bit surprising is the level of vitriol which has emerged. It's as if resentment has grown over the rise of the Red Sox in the past few years. These lovable losers have become "uppity," what with their frequent appearances in the playoffs and their two World Series wins. Some apparently, feel this should not have happened.

This is brought home in stark relief in a couple of recent columns. Exhibit One is a column this week by Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote a column entitled, "It's Fun Watching the Red Sox Lose." Plaschke writes: "The Boston Red Sox are choking, and I'm loving it. Seven years after they broke an 86-year-old curse, I'm loving it that a different curse has seemingly returned. The Curse Of Those Who Forget Who They Were." As I wrote, he seems to be saying the Sox are now "uppity." He especially seems to resent the Bosox for increasing their payroll. It appears Plaschke believes that the Sox had been downtrodden for more than 80 years, and should have stayed that way.

As an LA Times columnist, Plaschke is a guy who has had a front row seat to watch the near disintegration of the LA Dodgers, one of baseball's most storied franchises. In reaction, he turns his attention to the suddenly struggling Sox. The only explanation for this is his apparent desire to engage in a bit of schadenfreude (pleasure in the misfortune of others). Why else make a big deal of kicking someone when they're down? I don't really get it. Personally, I have been saddened to see what's happened to the Dodgers. The ultimate irony is that Frank McCourt - the current Dodgers owner - is almost single-handedly responsible for the demise of the franchise, which he and his estranged wife seemed to have viewed as a large, personal ATM. Red Sox fans will remember that McCourt tried very hard to buy the Sox, before losing out to the current Sox ownership group. Just think what it might have meant if McCourt had bought the Sox. The fact of the matter is, McCourt has all but ruined the Dodgers, who will wallow in misery at least until Major League Baseball forces their sale. During the same period, the Red Sox owners have produced two World Series wins and multiple playoff appearances.

Plaschke seems to resent this a great deal, and has taken to the pages of the LA Times to air his perceived grievance, never mind the shambles of the Dodgers.

Exhibit Two, and even more curious, however, is the column this week by Boston's own (or at least the Boston Globe's own) Dan Shaughnessy, whose column, "They're Not Worthy," attacks the Sox, Sox players and Sox management on just about every level. Shaughnessy claims (we assume factiously) to have left a message for MLB commissioner Bud Selig that said, "Please, Bud. This is your chance to think outside the box. You have sweeping powers that enable you to make unilateral decisions “in the best interests of baseball.'' How about banishing the 2011 Red Sox from postseason play on the grounds of horsebleep play for the entire month of September?"

Sheesh, Dan, how many teams would have been banned from the playoffs upon that basis? Thank goodness no one is suggesting you be commissioner of baseball.

Shaughnessy has always been something of a contrarian, but now he seems to be moving more toward the curmudgeon. I'm not suggesting he should be a “homer,” but his dislike for the Red Sox seems to grow every year. It's hard to determine when all this started. Perhaps it was when Carl Everett referred to him as someone's “Curly-headed Boyfriend (CHB).” A lot of people think this appellation originated with Curt Schilling, but it was Everett who originally coined it. No matter, Schilling latched onto it and it remains active to this day in some circles.

Regardless, Shaughnessy's disdain for the Sox becomes ever more open, and he really vented his spleen this week in a column that for the most part simply restated the obvious: bad pitching, spotty offense, injuries, etc. He went on, however to attack Francona and the front office. If he'd had a bit more space, I suspect he would have complained about potholes on Yawkey Way.

Odds are - although it's far from certain - the Sox will back into the playoffs, although given the current situation, it's hard to believe they'll go very far. One thing is certain; there is a cheering section for them to fail.