Tito to attend Red Sox 100 Anniversary Celebration (and other thoughts on the current state of Red Sox Nation)

I’d like to make a few quick comments about this since I was critical of Francona last week when he said he wouldn’t be attending the 100 anniversary celebration at Fenway Park on Friday.  I’m glad that he changed his mind and I’m glad about the reasoning he gave (for the fans) as it kind of makes up for his reason to originally not go (basically because ownership hurt his feelings.)  The thing is that this Friday’s ceremony has always been about one thing – the Red Sox organization and their fans.  When I say Red Sox organization I don’t mean current ownership, players, or coaches, I mean the idea of the Boston Red Sox.  The logo on the hats, the green monster, the facade that says Fenway Park, and the uniform that the players put on that says “Boston” or “Red Sox” on the front of it.  It’s not about any one person who has ever been involved in the organization, including John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner.  They are the current ownership and are responsible for the organization of the anniversary event and to hold that against them is ludicrous.

It really puts things in perspective for me for the past few weeks.  It seems as if a large portion of the fan base of the Red Sox has been alienated by the firing of Terry Francona and are still holding a grudge against the organization and I continue to be confused as to why.  I remember Kevin Kennedy being inexplicably fired only a year removed from winning the American League East.  Has the fan base overturned so much in a decade that we all forget the Jimy Williams/Joe Kerrigan fiasco?  I know Francona won two championships in Boston but managers in baseball always have limited shelf lives with few exceptions.  It was clear by his laid back nature in a market with such highly paid players that Francona was not going to be one of those exceptions.  I understand and can appreciate to a point that a large sect of the current fan base only remember two Red Sox managers – Tito and that redneck guy who slapped Pedro on the shoulder and left him in the game.  I can remember as far back as John McNamara’s tenure as Sox skipper.  That makes Bobby V. the Sox’ 9th manager since I can remember.  And he certainly won’t be the worst – Butch Hobson will likely hold that distinction for the rest of my life.

People are angry at Henry, Werner, and Lucchino.  That’s funny.  Do we forget how much of a dump Fenway Park had become back before they bought the team in 2002.  For anyone who had never been to Fenway before then consider yourself lucky.  The experience is 100 times better now thanks to that much maligned troika.  And of course they are the guys who originally brought in Tito as well as the players that won the first world championship in 86 years and then another one 3 years later.  Maybe we should bring back John Harrington, the man behind such debacles as the Williams/Kerrigan flap, the Butch Hobson era, Jose Offerman and his OBP replacing Mo Vaughn and Dan Duquette’s reign of mediocrity as Red Sox GM.  Maybe we can bring Haywood Sullivan and the Yawkey Trust back from the dead.  Talk about scumbaggery in a front office, nothing Henry, Lucchino or Werner do could probably best Sullivan’s jettisoning of Carlton Fisk, a future Hall-of-Famer, and Fred Lynn, who was cost a shot at the Hall of Fame when he wasn’t retained by the Red Sox.  He purposely sent them their new contract offers late so that they didn’t have time to respond to them yet when people asked he could say “I did offer them their contracts.”  Then there is our beloved former owner Tom Yawkey.  Yawkey is the single biggest reason for our 86 year drought between championships.  He was a blatant racist who openly shot down the civil rights movement in baseball in the 40’s and 50’s.  He cost Ted Williams, Dom Dimaggio, and Bobby Doerr the primes of their careers by failing to supplement the roster with the up-and-coming African American players who joined rosters all around the league.  He set the team back years by waiting 12 seasons after Jackie Robinson’s debut to sign an African American player.  The Red Sox were the last MLB team to join the integration started by the Dodgers in 1947 .  In those twelve years the players he directly passed on included Robinson, the first African-American player in MLB history, and Willie Mays, the greatest African-American player in MLB history.  I will take these three guys, thank you.

My point is this – we seem to have an angry and bitter Red Sox Nation.  Whatever, you can be mad at the players and the owners but let me in on a little secret – when you say “I’m going to switch teams” or “this team is not worth my time” you are full of shit, pardon my language.  Because it’s not how you feel about Bobby Valentine or John Henry or Larry Lucchino.  It is, or at least should be, as they say “all about the laundry.”  Answer one question – why are you a Red Sox fan to begin with?  I can answer that question simply and quickly.  I am a Red Sox fan because my father was a Red Sox fan and he passed it down to me.  And guess why he was a Red Sox fan?  Because his father was before him.  That’s the whole point, to pass it on from generation to generation.  Eventually you’ll be telling your grand kids stories about Terry Francona, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, etc.  And that’s all it will be to them, just stories.  They’ll be emotionally invested in a whole other set of names.  All of this will just be part of the past.  It’s always about what it says on the front of the uniform, not the back.  And it would be wise for everyone – players, owners, coaches, and yes, even fans to remember that.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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