56° Good Afternoon
56° Good Afternoon

Terry Francona, that crazy Wednesday night and Jose Reyes

So, it's not like I missed much during my 48 hours off the grid, right?

Good Lord.

I suppose I could let stuff pass, but my ego is too large to do so. Sorry. Think of this as the weekly magazine of blogs. I opine on stuff that happened a long time ago.

Let's go in reverse chronological order.

1) Terry Francona out as Red Sox manager. Islander505 asked me about Francona's job status last week, and I foolishly dismissed it. Bad job by me. I didn't appreciate how tired Boston and Francona had apparently grown of each other.

I'm sure it's the New York-centric mind talking, but in a way, the Francona departure of Joe Torre's narrative in "The Yankee Years," only I think Francona has more of a beef than Torre did.

Torre and Brian Cashman grew apart when Cashman gained power following the 2005 season, and I think that Cashman was taking the steps necessary to change the thinking and process around the club. No more quick fixes. Building from the farm system. Relying on statistics more. That kind of stuff.

This 2011 team that Theo Epstein put together, however? The signings of John Lackey (prior to 2010) and Carl Crawford (prior to 2011) felt Steinbrenner-esque, and in this case, that isn't a compliment. And the team couldn't come up with decent pitching, from either inside or outside the organization.

So while Francona might have slacked off on his own, you can't dispute that this team presented more challenges than Francona's earlier Red Sox clubs.

Whoever replaces Francona in Boston will have some top-shelf talent and plenty of cash at his disposal, but will have some work to do. Francona, meanwhile, will go down in Red Sox history as an all-time, beloved manager.

1a) Tony Reagins out as Angels manager. OK, I wasn't planning on this one. It just happened. As often occurs with the stealth Angels, this wasn't really out there much.

That written, it isn't a surprise, nor is it unjustified. The Vernon Wells trade was an all-time dud.

What's interesting about the Angels' GM job is that manager Mike Scioscia has so much say in personnel matters that the GM therefore lacks some clout. It'll be interesting to see who winds up filling that post. 

2) Wednesday night's wonderful chaos. Sure, I watched the ends of Yankees-Rays and Red Sox-Orioles, after our company left. I'm not that religious.

No point in breaking down any of the Xs and Os, but I do want to address one point I saw repeatedly in the yakosphere (trademark Neil Best). 

"See? If there had been an extra playoff team, then we wouldn't have enjoyed Wednesday night's excitement!"

Technically, yes, that's true. But that statements ignores some obvious counterpoints:

1) The more teams you have in play, the greater the potential for that kind of drama. The more playoff spots, the more teams you'll have in play.

2) The existence of one-game playoffs (pitting the two wild cards against each other) means we'll have that sort of do-or-die drama every year. They also mean that we'll no longer have the drab saga of a team settling for a wild-card spot. There'll be too much to gain in winning the division.

Look, I'm a purist. I grew up in the baseball world of four divisions and no wild cards, and I miss it. But you'd have to be blind, deaf and dumb to not acknowledge that more playoff teams means more interest.

My greatest memory as a hockey fan came on April 3, 1988, when I attended a Nordiues-Rangers game at Madison Square Garden, rooting for the Rangers to lose so that my Devils could make the playoffs.

(Suckup alert: Hey, bosses, I grew up in New Jersey. Besides, you guys didn't even own the Rangers back then.)

The Rangers won, 3-0, which meant that the Devils needed to win their game in Chicago. I was on the train back home from the Garden when my friends Scott, Jon and I heard, from a guy wtih a radio, that the Devils had prevailed in overtime. The three of us were thrilled. What a moment!

The fact that the Devils went 38-36-6, to finish in fourth place in the Patrick Division. We didn't care. Our team made the playoffs!

We can complain about the playoffs getting watered down, but when we actually live through them, you don't see too much complaining.

3) Jose Reyes' early departure. This is a visceral thing, admittedly, but OMG did I not like this. Wow.

Wednesday, to me, wasn't about Reyes' pursuit of the NL batting title. Not primarily, at least. It was about the Mets fan base, having endured so much these last few years, taking a day to salute Reyes for all that he has done. And to enjoy watching him play in a Mets uniform for possibly the last time.

I know there's plenty of precedent for this. I know, as David Lennon points out in the linked column, that Ted Williams' act of bravado occurred 70 years ago.

I know, but I still hated it. I get it. But I hated it.

Besides, if the best way to win a batting ttile is to sit out, is a batting title really something worth celebrating?

--Have a great night.








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