Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Face The Nation

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

Apologies to those who checked in this morning for the Three Play - we had blogger issues today.

Time for nervous members of Red Sox Nation to exhale - the magic number is down to three games now and the Sox are a virtual lock to win the AL East Division title...please, no emails about jinxing the Sox.

So with that in mind we have a question for members of Red Sox Nation - that would be you reading this page. Why are some fans in the Nation blaming manager Terry Francona for the Sox recent woes?

Last week a vocal minority, at least we are hoping they were a small percentage of fans, were on a number of message boards blaming Francona for everything that was wrong with the Sox. Judging by the way the threads were going, some of the message board champs were ready to blame him for Buckner's error against the Mets and the collapse of 1978.

We are having trouble understanding why the arrows are being pointed at Francona. There were comments about how a number of Francona's decisions led to losses, others pointing to the perception that he is too laid back and that attitude rubs off on the team, and yet others blaming him for the decision to play guys who were struggling (read Gagne, Drew, and a few others).

It could be that we are missing something here - but it seems, in our humble opinion, that in this particular case the lion's share of blame should be directed at the man who put the team together, rather than the man who fills out the lineup card and makes changes. Before you point your arrows this way - here us out on this one.

For those criticizing Francona's personnel decisions, we ask a simple question. What options does he have? The man can't be held responsible for injuries to Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis, and he certainly can't be held responsible for personnel decisions made by upper management that leaves him with the likes of Eric Hinske and Bobby Kielty as fill ins. Francona wasn't the man who went out and signed the likes of J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo to free agent contracts, he wasn't the man who traded Kason Gabbard for Eric Gagne. He didn't make any of the personnel decisions that have backfired on Boston this year - that would be young Mr. Epstein.

To those who criticized Francona's quiet, "laid-back" style - where have you been? The fire and brimstone guys like Lou Piniella are a one to two year act; today's players don't respond to managers who piss vinegar and are forever calling them out in the press. Plus, who knows what happens when the door to the locker room closes - for all anyone knows, Francona could be in there ripping them a new one or just talking to them like men about what is going on. The theory that his laid-back style has rubbed off on players is laughable, and not befitting of a fan base whose knowledge of baseball is supposed to be second to none.

And to those who criticized him for trotting (no pun intended) out players who weren't performing or giving it their all - we refer you to the first point. What viable options did the man have? You can hate J.D. Drew all you want - Eric Hinske is NOT an adequate replacement, not even close. Alex Cora is a great guy to have around, but could he replace Julio Lugo on a long-term basis? You don't think Francona would love to have Alex Gonzalez back? He can't say it, but he probably wishes Epstein would have re-signed him. As good as the Sox starting staff is - their bullpen has questions. Those who lambasted him for going to Gagne in late innings - his options were???? A struggling Hideki Okajima? Mike Timlin who has had his share of days where he has been lit up? He can't pitch Manny Delcarmen til his arm falls off and he can't throw Buchholz out there in those situations. In short, the bullpen has become the weakness many thought it would be when the season started - you can't blame Tito.

Come on - you guys are supposed to be better than that - you should be pointing at the man who put the team together and left his manager with a very thin and inadequate bench.

So again we ask - why are some fans blaming Terry Francona? Where do you stand on this? Quikdraw will probably wade in on this one.

As we have mentioned before - we don't know if Hazel checks in here, and we wouldn't tell you if we knew she did. But nonetheless, we are providing you with discussion topics if you ever bump into Boston's most loved sports media personality - apologies to the devilishly handsome Bob Ryan. Warning - its all about being a member of Leaf Nation; we'd like to think she still is.

Colaiacovo to spend the rest of pre-season in the training room - audition time for Kronvall and Stralman.

Recap of Leafs vs SenaTards - it was like the Tards had won the Stanley Cup here, luckily the sky isn't falling in Toronto, yet...

Never too early to talk about the 07/08 Leafs lineup - Chad Kilger as second line C? Jeezus give us strength.

Who is the best Maple Leafs player ever - we're hoping Hazel would vote for Borje Salming.

Damian being Damian - he's obviously never been to the sunny side of the street.

Pohl dancing - no we aren't referring to a dear departed blogger on this page.
More on 07/08 Leafs projected lineup - Sundin reunited with Ponikarovsky.

Leafs top prospect Tlusty isn't going anywhere yet - the kid might just make it.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays C Dioner Navarro had two hits, including a walk off home run in the 10 inning, and drove in two runs to lead the DRays to a 7-6 win. A former member of Red Sox West helps the Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz had a home run and drove in two runs to lead the Sox to a 7-3 win over Oakland. Schilling has to do better than six good innings to get mention here.

Detroit Tigers P Yorman Bazardo (we asked "who???" too) kept Detroit's Wild Card hopes on life support by pitching seven shutout innings, giving up six hits and three walks while striking out five, in an 8-0 win over the Twins.

We had a tough night last night finishing the night at - $190. If it makes you feel better, Seattle and the Dodgers killed a Pro-Line ticket for yours truly. Tonight's suggestions:

Cleveland over Seattle - Fausto Carmona takes the mound against Ryan Feierabend which should tell you everything you need to know. If that isn't enough, Cleveland is playing for the best record in the AL East - that should be enough. Lay $100 on the Tribe - $185.

San Diego over San Francisco - Padres will look to Jake Peavy to keep them alone atop the Wild Card standings - pretty good option to be looking at. The Giants send lefty Patrick Misch to the mound. Lay $100 on the Padres - $200.

Toronto over Baltimore - Roy Halladay always gives his best, no matter where the Jays are at in the standings - we think his best is infinitely better than Victor Zambrano's best (if he comes up with it). We're looking for the Jays to finish with their usual late season flourish. Lay $100 on the Jays - $190.

New York over Tampa Bay - Chien Ming Wang vs. J.P. Howell should be enough of a mismatch to point you to the Yankees; if not, try this - Howell's ERA is 6.80, not good when you are facing the Yankees. Lay $100 on the Yankees - $280.

That's it for today gang - apologies to those who checked in early for the Three Play - thanks for taking the time to check in. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We're Out!


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