Saturday, August 09, 2008

Someone Who Doesn't Want to Play for the Red Sox? Inconceivable!

From "Tough to defend this decision" by Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe:

Any major league player with a competitive bone in his body won't understand Brian Giles's decision to stay in San Diego.

There's talk of not wanting to leave two daughters behind. Understandable, for sure, but part of the job description is players coping with being away from their families as they pursue lifelong dreams and lucrative careers.

Giles is a player who talks a lot about winning, but if that's the case, and you don't want to leave San Diego to be part of a pennant race in Boston, then your words are forever hollow. [...]

Baseball players are supposed to have a pulse. They wake up every morning and hunger to win. At least most of them. They hunger to play in a city where baseball is important to the fans. They want to play for something. [...]

The Red Sox probably are better off not having such a player. If you don't have enough fire to play when the heat is on, in a city that has passion for baseball, and would rather stay where you're "comfortable," in a place where your lifestyle takes precedence over your job, then the Sox surely were making the wrong choice in Giles to be the protection they were seeking with their injury-riddled lineup.

If ever you wanted a summation of "East Coast baseball" versus "West Coast baseball"—or really, the Red Sox versus everyone else—here it is. Brian Giles, admittedly an odd bird even in the world of Major League Baseball, will have made $80 million by the end of his playing days. He's 37 years old and doesn't want to leave his family.

Ordinarily, such wholesome values would be applauded. But in Boston, according to Cafardo, "your job" (i.e., the Red Sox) must come before "your lifestyle" (i.e., family). Cafardo's indictment of Giles as a player apparently lacking the requisite "hunger" and "fire" for Boston smacks of snobbery as well as sour grapes.

"The Red Sox probably are better off not having such a player," concludes Cafardo with such resentment that it makes you wonder if Manny Ramirez's gripes have any validity...and how a guy like Ramirez, who will never be confused as the Standard Bearer for Hunger & Fire, lasted as long as he did in Boston.

The answer, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports: "[It] was the Red Sox who raised Manny to be what he is: self-entitled, self-centered, and prone to random idiocy, bullying and unenthusiastic strolls to first base....They were OK with him being Manny as long as he was their Manny." Something for Dodger fans to consider.

Speaking of which, how amusing is it for Dodger fans to hear about the Red Sox wanting only gritty gutty gamers when their right fielder is J.D. Drew? While Drew is second on the Red Sox with 19 home runs, no one is pretending he's there for anything but the biggest paycheck Scott Boras could negotiate. A World Series ring hasn't made his "passion" for the Red Sox any greater than that for the other three teams he's been on.

So Cafardo tells us Boston is "a city where baseball is important to the fans...a city that has passion for baseball" (unlike "comfortable" San Diego, one supposes). Coincidentally, an inordinate amount of Red Sox fans have become influential in mass media; they run ESPN, they make movies like "Fever Pitch," they write books like "Now I Can Die in Peace."

That behavior was tolerable in 2004, after the Red Sox's 86-year "curse" had been broken. But in 2008, with a second World Series trophy and a payroll of $133 million, the Red Sox are just another large-market team. Just because their fans are louder, it doesn't mean they care more. And a player should not be condemned for failing to drop everything for the privilege of playing for them.


Erin said...

I know I don't speak for all Sox fans, but neither does Cafardo, as far as I'm concerned. If a guy wants to stay on a losing team because he's closer to his family, that's fine with me.

Erin said...

In fact, if anything, it might make Giles seem more admirable. The Padres are not going anywhere this season, but Giles has pretty decent numbers, so they'd likely be a lot worse off without him. He's helping a team that might actually benefit from his help, instead of going to one that doesn't necessarily need him to continue winning.

Orel said...

That seems to be Giles' position as well.

And Erin, I wish you spoke for more Sox fans than Cafardo does.

Anonymous said...


Eric Karros said...

That Cafardo article is one of the most annoying and somewhat bizarre things I've read in a long time, and I don't even dislike the Red Sox that much. In fact if I had read it in a different context I probably would have thought it was a great piece of satire.

Steve Sax said...

In 2004, I rooted for the Red Sox.

Now, I'm finding them a little really overbearing. I know Cafardo doesn't speak for all Red Sox fans, but given two titles in 87 years (only one more than the Angels, and four fewer than the Dodgers), one would think that a little graciousness and humility would be in order.

Luckily, there's erin, who is easy for which to root.

Steve Sax said...

Well done article, btw, Orel. Nice job.

Unknown said...

This post pretty much sums it up in New England. Most "Sox" fans up there are a bunch of entitled feeling whiners who know very little about the game or other teams and think the Red Sox are all of baseball's universe, mostly thanks to ESPN. Also, just because you own all the Sox gear and are loud and obnoxious does not make you a fan, unfortunately I live in New England and have had to explain to these baseball "fans" why David Ortiz sometimes plays 1st base in the middle of the season.