Sixteen years ago, I was on an international flight -- sitting in business class. The person in the seat next to me was the managing director of the Baltimore Orioles, Peter Angelos. I chewed his ear off on that flight -- talking baseball and the law as we crossed the Atlantic in the wee hours of the morning.
At the time (December, 1995), Angelos was in the middle of deciding which free agent to pursue for the upcoming season. (Two names were mentioned -- Wade Boggs and Roberto Alomar. He settled on the latter). It so happened that I was carrying a book recounting the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox as my reading material for the trip. I pointed out to my flying companion that, according to the book, the entire Sox payroll for the 25 man team was less than $500,000 -- and that one player (Carl Yastrzemski) made more than $100,000. The average salary, therefore, for the remaining 24 players was less $20,000. This meant that in order to support their families, most of the players on that pennant winning team had to get jobs in the off-season -- as car salesmen or bartenders or whatever -- to supplement the wages they earned as professional ball players.
I make note of the foregoing because of today's announcement that Terry Francona will not be returning to manage the Boston Red Sox in 2012. Apparently, Terry told Sox ownership that they would be well-served in getting another skipper who could get through to the players.
In the joint press conference held with GM Theo Epstein on September 29th, the Sox epic collapse was attributed, in part, to the players not being in prime condition. One wonders whether the lack of pitching depth and the September swoon could have been avoided had the players been in better shape. Certainly, it would not be a stretch to state that Jacoby Ellsbury's amazingly productive year was the result of his commitment to a strenuous off season conditioning program following his lost year in 2009.
So now the Red Sox are left to pick up the pieces of a shattered season and members of Red Sox Nation are left to wonder. Is it too much to expect that the team to which they pledge allegiance should put forth a professional effort whenever they take the field?
It would appear that the Sox were in cruise control during the last month of the season -- too busy texting when they should have been paying attention to the 16 wheeler they were about to hit head on. Sounds to me that there was a country club mentality in the clubhouse and that Terry had his fill of it. All of which leaves me with the following questions: Who is the 2012 version of Dick Williams? And is Yaz' trainer still in the Greater Boston area?