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Friday, January 02, 2004

Whew!
This is one fan who will be very happy not to hear any more about Alex Rodriguez, et al.
Yes, baseball is a business, but it is not like any other business, in that the employees are more important than the owners or even the managers because they produce a very public product that engages the public like nothing else the public "buys" -- including their hearts and souls, if not their wallets per se. It is also subject to emotion like no other product (except perhaps a motorcycle, but that's personal and another story.)
The emotional roller coaster Boston Red Sox (and Texas Rangers) fans were on for what seemed like much longer than a month did more than upset stomachs and jangle nerves -- it also exposed the desperation many, many Sox fans feel about not owning a world championship for more than eight decades. The fans -- and the Red Sox owners, it seems -- want to do anything they can to win the series right now, next year, no more waiting, and they were sure that Rodriguez was the last piece of the puzzle and that it was okay to throw away the Nomar and Manny pieces and that someone would simply materialize to play (and hit) better at second than Todd Walker and play and hit pretty well (no one coming here for shorter money was going to outhit Manny) and play better in left (Manny's fielding percentage for the year, in Fenway and away, was .982, with four errors in 222 chances, 11 assists, and 1 double play).
Let's assume that all was true. No team is more than one injury to one key player away from coming in second or worse. Let's assume the Red Sox with Alex had no major injuries. Is that really going to be enough, or is there something else needed -- like managers and coaches who can lead the team AND make correct game situation decisions most of the time and never make a fatal one in a critical situation.
All I'm saying is that there are no givens in baseball or any other sport. Some can't-miss paper teams have sucked in the past and other also-ran paper teams have far exceeded expectations. Cliche it is, but that is why they play the games. Whatever team takes the field next year for the Red Sox, let's hope it plays the game well; championships come on the field, not in December. Frankly, I am more interested in and concerned about Terry Francona, and will be looking into what makes him the right guy -- or the wrong guy -- for the team after the team is THE TEAM.
Tim