July 01, 2004
Relax Sox Fans; Patriots Are On Tap
BY: Kevin Rousseau
With the Red Sox making their exit from the playoff race extra-early this summer, there's only one thing that can bring comfort to the masses.
Cheer up. The Patriots start training camp in a few weeks.
Honestly, how maddening has this Red Sox season been for you? Perhaps, it's the pressure of high expectations and contract years taking its toll. Maybe a magical season like last year only comes around once in a while and when it does, you better make the most of it. Might the ghosts of the Yawkey-era country club atmosphere still pervade through Fenway Park? Or could we hang this debacle largely on the shoulders of one Terry Francona.
Whenever I hear that one of my teams has just hired a "player's coach/manager," I roll my eyes and prepare myself for 2-3 years of mediocrity with the inmates' running the asylum.
Witness the Pete Carroll era for the Patriots. Like Francona, Carroll is by all accounts a very nice man and someone you would like to have for a next-door neighbor. But in both cases, when the team needed a good kick in pants, neither could be counted on to deliver. Willie McGinest's tirade in a Three Rivers Stadium locker room after a 7-6 playoff loss to the Steelers in 1997 exposed Carroll's vulnerability when it came to instilling discipline. And who could forget the team quitting on him in Philadelphia in 1999?
Francona appears to be more concerned with being the player's friend instead of their boss. If I hear that another main cog of the Sox lineup needs a "blow," I'm going to blow a gasket. God knows I'm all for a day off every now and then, but it's not like these guys are playing football or hockey every night. Why can't Nomar sit in the first game of the Braves series as opposed to the must-win final game of the Yankees series? I wish this guy was my boss.
Compare Francona's managerial tactics with those of Yankee skipper Joe Torre. Despite my disdain for all things Yankees, I do have the utmost respect for Torre. Even with all of the enormous salaries and egos that make their home in the Bronx, there is no question that he calls the shots on the field. Witness him pulling Roger Clemens early in Game 7 of last year's ALCS.
Like Torre, Bill Belichick is in control of his team. He stared down Ty Law this off season and firmly showed the game's premier cornerback who's the boss. The most evident example of the Belichick/Torre mindset is, of course, when he went with Brady over Bledsoe in 2001. What would Francona or Carroll have done when confronted with this situation? We might not have a Vince Lombardi trophy to stare at.
The job of a head coach or a manager is to be the boss. Period. It is not a popularity contest to be the media darling of the Boston market or the friend to the stars of the team. Unfortunately, history is repeating itself for card-carrying members of Red Sox/Patriot Nation.
Idle Zinger thoughts while wondering if preferring soap from Bath and Body Works will get me kicked out of the Un-Professional Football Writers Association of America:
Bill Belichick gave a pre-game speech to the Navy Midshipmen before their semi-final victory in the NCAA lacrosse championships. His father used to be a coach at Navy.
Few things, perhaps maybe buffalo wings, bring me more joy than seeing Peyton Manning pointing and yelling at one of his offensive teammates after an interception. Is it ever his fault?
While I'm on the subject, the Patriots won the AFC Championship game fair and square despite all of this complaining coming out of the Colts camp about the Patriots defensive backs hitting Colt receivers beyond the allowed five yards. Manning was the one manhandled and frazzled enough to throw four interceptions. Don't forget that.
Have you heard that NFL 2K5 video game will be priced at a reasonable $19.95 for the upcoming season. This will mercifully drive down the price of Madden 05 from the disgraceful $49.95.
CNNSi's Peter King reported that the Sirius satellite radio people will be at certain NFL stadiums this fall installing their system while you are watching the game. After the game, you'll be able to listen to any late game you want thanks to the new agreement that allows Sirius to carry all of the local radio broadcasts. The upshot of this is if you've been refugeed to Grand Forks, you'll now be able to pick up Gil and Gino.
NESN is showing tape-delayed coverage of the CFL this season. It's worth checking out if you need a fix.
Even if you haven't discovered Bath and Body Works soap, I'd still be happy to hear from you. I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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