Wednesday, December 23, 2009

There were a lot of books written about the 2004 Red Sox (I believe approximately 1.8 million, at last count). I read a fair number of them, of course. One I remember seeing, but not picking up, was Leigh Montville's Why Not Us?

It turns out that not reading this book earlier was a mistake.

I probably should have known better. Montville wrote wonderful biographies of Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. Why wouldn't this book be good?

A few weeks ago, we met the other three Boston-area families who traveled to Korea with us for lunch at a Korean restaurant in Burlington. Next to the restaurant was a used book store. We browsed the store after lunch and I found a number of copies of Why Not Us? remaindered there for $1. So, I bought a copy and started reading it last week.

The book tells about numerous Red Sox fans and their stories leading up to the comeback over the Yankees and the sweep of the Cardinals. It goes from older fans, who remember the disappointments of the 1946 World Series, the 1948 playoff game and the 2 game sweep in Yankee Stadium in 1949. Other fans in my age range tell stories of the 1967 Impossible Dream team, the 1975 World Series and Bucky Bleeping Dent.

A recurring theme is the crushing defeat in game 6 in 1986. Many people tell stories of parents, grandparents and other friends and relatives who passed on between '86 and '04, never seeing the Red Sox win it all.

Even younger fans, who had gotten their baptism of fire into Red Sox Nation with Grady Little and Aaron Boone's home run in 2003 were well represented in the book.

The stories come many sources: the author's own memories, personal interviews, posts on the Sons of Sam Horn Web site.

Almost any Red Sox fan will recognize themselves, or someone they know, in this book. The stories are touching, funny, sad, triumphant, glorious.

So, if you made my mistake and didn't read this book when it came out, go track down a copy and read it through. You'll love it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wow. Quite a day in MLB today. Here's some thoughts on two big deals and a smaller one:
  • The Red Sox have signed John Lackey to a 5 year deal worth something like $82-85 million. I like this signing a lot. They get a front line starter and don't give up anything other than money (and a couple of draft picks). At the moment, the Sox starting rotation shapes up with Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Daisuke and Buchholz, with Wake in reserve. It also opens up the possibility of trading Buchholz for a big bat (Adrian Gonzalez?)
  • The big trade news of the day is the three-way among the Phillies, Mariners and Blue Jays. Roy Halladay would go to Philadelphia, Cliff Lee to Seattle and a pack of prospects to Toronto. Looks like a good deal all around. Halliday will dominate in the NL. Lee and King Felix at the top of the Mariners rotation will give Seattle a legitimate shot at the NL West title, especially with the Angels weakened by the loss of Lackey. The Blue Jays need to rebuild.
  • It looks like the Sox are going to sign Mike Cameron to a 2 year deal for between $7-8 million a year. Insurance in case they can't resign Bay or get Matt Holliday? Maybe, but I hope that's not the case.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

There has been an interesting transition here on the blog. It's been about three weeks since I have posted anything. Not only have I just not had a lot to talk about, I'm finding myself spending more time on Twitter and Facebook. Those sites provide me with more interaction and feedback, so I have less time for blogging. I will still come back here when I have something I want to talk about, though. Like today. I have a rant.

Yesterday, manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee for Managers and Umpires. Both men are very deserving of being enshrined in Cooperstown. However, in yet another Epic Fail, the 12 member Veterans Committee for Executives and Pioneers failed to induct anyone, including long-time MLB Players Association chief Marvin Miller.

Except for the makeup of the committee, it's almost inconceivable that Miller wasn't elected. If I had to pick three people in the 20th century that had the biggest impact on the game, they would be Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and Marvin Miller. Ruth fundamentally changed how the game was played, pretty much singlehandedly moving baseball out of the dead ball era. Robinson changed the social makeup of the game by breaking the color line. Marvin Miller was instrumental in breaking the reserve clause, bringing in free agency and arbitration, increasing ballplayer salaries to their current stratospheric levels and forcing the owners to change how the business of baseball is conducted.

So, how is Marvin Miller not in the Hall of Fame? There's a simple explanation. The committee was made up of two players (Tom Seaver and Robin Roberts), three writers and seven executives (John Harrington, Jerry Bell, Bill DeWitt, Bill Giles, David Glass, Andy MacPhail and John Schuerholz).

Any more questions? Seaver, Roberts and the three writers all voted for Miller. Five of the seven executives didn't. Nine votes were required for election. Obviously, the executives who didn't vote for Miller (and no one has disclosed which ones they were) weren't interested in whether he was a deserving candidate for enshrinement or not.

The system obviously needs to be fixed. How can Tom Yawkey be in the Hall of Fame and Miller isn't? Yawkey owned the Red Sox for 43 full seasons, from 1933 to 1975 (he passed away during the 1976 season. His teams finished under .500 14 times, and won a grand total of three pennants and no World Series. His Red Sox were the last team to field an African American player, a full 12 years after Robinson broke in with the Dodgers. Charges of racism by players ranging from Earl Wilson to Reggie Smith to Tommy Harper dogged the Red Sox for decades afterwards. The only lasting positive legacy of his ownership is the Red Sox involvement with the Jimmy Fund, and even that was started by the Boston Braves before they moved to Milwaukee.

So, a fairly inept and possibly racist team owner has a plaque and a man who fundamentally changed the business structure of the game doesn't? I think that says about all you need to know about the politics of who gets into the Hall of Fame.

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