Monday, October 24, 2011

Cultural Revolution!

by Mark Lawrence, Down-Under Editor

Sydney, Australia—October 24, 2011. This year, the cold space between World Series and Spring Training seems even more devoid of life than in previous years and this infuriatingly slow progress to locate a new manager has prompted my fullest attention to solving a few matters that - if left unaddressed - will continue to plague the Red Sox clubhouse throughout the 2012 season – and very probably beyond.

Right now, we have a pretty fair roster of players – guys eminently capable of playing to win – so it follows that we just need a few radical changes in the management and coaching area to make our 2012 Red Sox viable again. As well as concentrating on filling a few managerial vacancies, the NOG should give serious thought to creating some new positions, too. This is how I’d like to see things pan out:

Manager - John 'Iron Pants' Farrell – I’m not that confident that there are any suitable managers out there who’d be willing to put up with all the nonsense and hoopla associated with the job – the Media Pack, the fans, Il Duce – why set yourself up for stress and Francona-like hair loss? So, why not go with a known quantity who just happens to have intimate knowledge of the clubhouse and its inherent problems. And even better to have a tough guy from Jersey with an attitude that – some say – occasionally approaches Pattonesque levels - you don’t win ball games on paper – you win ball games by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country – hell, if he could put the frighteners on Buchholz, I say hire the man.

Pitching Coach - Timothy S. Wakefield - well, why the hell not? Wake joined the club a year after I did, has given 16 loyal years of unstinting service and put up with a lot of guff over the years - this last disappointing season will likely prompt him to hang up his cleats, so why not give the guy a shot? There's no question in my mind that he's skilled enough to take on this role - what's the worst that could happen? A few young guys learn the mysteries of the knuckler? I'd take that anytime. But Wake might need a little help, so…

Assistant Pitching Coach - Pedro Martinez -Now that Pedro has retired, I'm sure he's been scratching about looking for something to occupy his time, so why not spend a few days a week at the Fens, tossing a ball around and imparting his years of pitching experience and acumen to the young and upcoming on the roster? Besides, Pedro has shown in the past that he can be a tough guy when needed – and he’s not afraid to knock a few skulls, either – just ask Don Zimmer.

Special Team Advisors/Player Counselors - Bill Lee and Kevin Millar- What this team needs is a ten gallon hatful of cheerful Texas optimism, leavened with a heapin’ helpin’ of good old New England New-Ageism, Spaceman-style. And wouldn’t it be sweet to have a few guys who could add that bothersome Leephus pitch to their arsenal?

Media Pack Liaison - C. Montague Schilling - It’d be fireworks a-plenty with the Media Pack after every game – The Big Schill would give ‘em all the straight skinny in a full-and-frank fashion that would discourage irrelevant questions, embarrass the CHB and delight viewers and fans worldwide, all the while taking the heat off the players. Although a six-second delay would probably be a good idea.

Ethics Counselor –Johnny Pesky - Old Number 6 is truly the last of a special breed and his absence from the clubhouse in recent times is sorely missed – but with The Needle dropping by a couple of days a week, the youngsters could learn a lot from a player who literally still gives his life to the team. Offer Mr Pesky a beer during the game and if he’s in uniform, he’ll chop you off at the ankles. Suds during a game?? Are you a major leaguer or what? Geddouttaheah, ya punk, ya!

Of course, this is – I hope - just a mildly amusing fantasy – but the point I’m laboring to make is that while management changes obviously need to be made and hopefully will be made, the need for cultural, organizational and attitudinal change is just as critical – perhaps even more so. Whoever comes on board in any leadership capacity will need to reinforce the unshakeable belief that anyone wearing that uniform can – as a team – prevail and can – as individuals – become participants in baseball history. This is the only way forward.

The fans feel awfully let down right now – it’ll take all of this and more for the Red Sox to win back their love and support and respect. Only a ship of arrogant fools would ignore this most vital issue and while I’ve never believed that the Red Sox could ever deserve that epithet, I plan to sit back this off-season and watch and wait to see if the NOG can deliver on their promises. Time - as always - will tell.