I hate sports radio, but like a car crash or a bad reality show, it has been almost impossible to ignore, especially late in any season. Yesterday the local sports stations made me vow to not listen for an entire year, maybe more.
With two games left in the season (one game now as I write this), the Red Sox were tied with the Devil Rays and rapidly improving the odds of an epic collapse – from first place at the start of September to out of the play-offs at the end of the month. The discussion – on both sports radio stations – was how much to blame manager Terry Francona.
- I understand sports radio hosts are intentionally provocative.
- I also understand it is easy to be critical, skeptical, and pessimistic before a game/series/season and then proclaim happiness that you were wrong and basking in a win…at least, easier than being optimistic at the start and then disappointed with both the team’s loss and your own foolish inability to see the future.
But yesterday broke this spreadsheet donkey’s back. Having watched countless little league games this season, I am wiser now to the truism that anything can happen. Your team can hit nothing but screaming line drives straight at the defense, while their team gets dribble singles and bloop doubles. Players who hit consistently can go cold and players who never make mental errors can turn into Jose Canseco. Spread over a season, better talent should mean better results — and for the Red Sox, better talent has meant two World Series titles in eight seasons, plus play-off appearances almost every year. Anything more, honestly, would have been crazy good luck and anything less would have been the Royals or Blue Jays, teams always out of the play-offs by late June.
Combine those sentiments — baseball sometimes is just f’ing fickle and two rings in eight seasons is f’ing great — with the idea that the other team sometimes, maybe lots of times, deserves some respect. Consider whether the Tampa sports radio guys were yapping this week about what a gift the Red Sox gave them by keeping Francona in the dug out. Did the Devil Ray fans (all three of them – Steve, Leo, and Henry Schukraft) see the last month as nothing more than the Red Sox crapping all over themselves? Or did the Devil Rays actually play and win some meaningful games? Blaming the Red Sox fall from first place primarily on Tito Francona is disrespectful to the teams that beat the Red Sox (repeatedly) this past month.
And what made me shout at the radio and turn it off, making sports radio in Boston dead to me until October 2012, was the host’s comment yesterday — after blasting Francona for cultivating a culture of complacency and saying the Red Sox are a “soft underbelly” team — that Johnny Damon would have made a catch that Jacoby Ellsbury missed. Damon, the host contended, would have run full speed into the wall to make the catch. Ellsbury, to the host’s eyes, pulled up just a bit short, missing the ball and revealing the softness and lack of intensity and overall insouciance of this Red Sox team.
I have heard plenty of stupid on-the-radio criticisms of the Boston teams over the last 5 years, so maybe I should have thicker skin around my ears, but I’m just not going to ram my head into that wall of stupidity, shallowness, and lack of insight again.
And Go Red Sox.