Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In Bill We Trust; In Theo We Trust!

No, Chicken Little, the sky is not falling! The world is not ending. We will survive the exodus from the Boston sports scene of Johnny Damon, Bronson Arroyo, Adam Vinatieri, Willie McGinest, Troy Brown and David Givens.

Will we miss them and all of the thrills they have given to New England fans over the past few years? Of course! Is it disappointing that the world of professional sports has devolved to the point where loyalty – in either direction – is a rare commodity, and dispassionate “business decisions” drive the thinking of owners and players alike? No question! Part of me longs for the days when a player like Ted Williams or Yaz or Larry Bird or Bobby Orr would spend an entire career wearing a Boston uniform. For the most part, those days have gone the way of the nickel vanilla Coke at the corner drug store. Do I join my fellow sport fans in regretting the process by which sports heroes have been turned into mercenary Hessians willing to take up arms for whatever team will write them the biggest check? Absolutely!

Having said all of that, I have a choice to make when it comes to looking at the state of professional sports today. I can walk away in disgust – as some have done – and invest my sports passions in amateur athletics, or I can choose to adjust to the world as it now is. Having chosen to try to adjust – since my “cursing the darkness” of the current state of affairs would not change a thing, I try to look with a rational eye at the world to which Red Sox and Patriots fans have awoken this morning. (I admit that “rational” does not fit with the notion of being a fanatical fan of either team, but bear with me!) The evidence is there that those who make personnel decisions for the Patriots – Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli and the Krafts, and for the Red Sox – chiefly Theo and his band of Merry Men, have settled on a formula that enables their organizations to field a competitive and exciting team each season. This is a rare accomplishment in the NFL and in MLB.

Boston sports radio and most of our newspaper columnists are in high dudgeon this morning over the latest round of departures of our beloved sports heroes. I understand the emotion, but choose to reject it. Bill and Theo and their support staffs have earned my trust in their ability to evaluate talent and the relative value of that talent in the context of the marketplace. They have consistently shown (with some errors along the way – Jeremy Giambi and Edgar Renteria as two painful cases in point) the ability to put together teams that make the playoffs each season. I would love to have all of my sports heroes play out their last days with the hometown team, but the price of that nostalgia would be the team fading into mediocrity and irrelevance. After the glories of their 1986 NBA title, the Celtics made the mistake of holding onto the aging core of their team until it was too late. Twenty years later, the apathy of Boston fans towards the Celtics and the empty seats at the new Garden are the legacy of that failed personnel policy.

We can’t have it both ways. We can’t demand that our teams remain competitive and at the same time demand we not lose any of the heroes that have thrilled us with their past performances.

Until they prove that their teams can no longer compete . . .

In Bill I trust! Go Pats!

In Theo I trust! Go Sox!


Anonymous said...

Hi Al,
I think we watch more now for the love of the game and not as much for the people who play it. Their excellent play is very much appreciated but making them icons on a given team is gone. We root for the home team. Go SOX.
Have a good day.

Anonymous said...

Greenville SC will unveil the new Single A Redsox's stadium in the coming weeks that is a pared down version of Fenways green Monster. The stadium will be filled on most nights by folks who love the game and will be played by young men with the same passion. Neither big contracts nor icons will be allowed and the games will still be played and watched and loved by everyone in attendance. This is pure baseball where you can see the determination in the players eyes and smell the freshly cut grass all at the same time. Autographs are always free and hotdogs are optional.

I can't wait.

JGM said...


Well said.

Go Sox!