Bet you were expecting B-Dubs column, weren’t you? Well, I’ve been begging, pleading with Sully to give me another chance to write something here at the Gab. I’ll do anything...”AN...Y...THING,” Sully... So I finally had to do something drastic. I may have kidnapped BDub, force fed him bran muffins and made him drink a 64-cup urn of coffee. Needless to say, his circumstances kept him a tad indisposed while I wrote his column.
The limitation with this otherwise brilliant, but deranged, plan is that now that I’ve created the opportunity, it didn’t occur to me to actually put an article together until I actually had him indisposed. There’s always something, isn’t there?
“It’s the worst day since yesterday...” or at least since 1966. So here goes. With today’s loss to the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox have clinched the title of “Worst Red Sox team of my lifetime.” They haven’t lost this many games since 1966. I’ve seen some bad Sox teams, but their thing has been being ALMOST good enough - you know, good enough to break your heart, but not wholly ruin your summer.
The 2012 edition however, has been abominable; as horrible as 2011 was heartbreaking...and, as it happens, with a record approximating the reciprocal of last years’ edition. That team got Tito Francona fired and Theo Epstein moving to the Cubs. Guys who had won 2 World Series’ here in Boston are now elsewhere (and Beeze, Tito is aiming to be managing the Indians next year...).
I can imagine Theo Epstein emailing John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino this shot
To be fair, Theo’s Cubs are even worse than the Red Sox, but the Sox had far further to fall. Good luck Bobby V. Back in APRIL - Vegas oddsmakers were making prop bets as to his tenure in Boston. APRIL! As of now, the beginning of October, we all think he will be shown the door (in fact, I’m sure that he has already been shown the door back at the beginning of September), but in an interesting move the Sox have brought Jason Varitek on as a “special assistant” involved in “major league personnel decisions, evaluations, and mentorship and instruction of young players.” Could that mean the future of the manager? Could that mean propping up Valentine for the next year?
It’s October, I’ve hijacked a featured column and I’m wasting inches on a 90-game loser baseball team. Way to win the hearts and minds, Mo. So instead of talking about a loser I’m upset about, I’m going to talk about a loser I’m happy about. The New York Jets got their “ass kicked” by the 49ers, and I have to tell you I giggled. I giggled my mother-loving tail off. My stomach hurt from giggling so much. 34-0? At home? It was a good day. On a day when the Patriots ran 77 offensive plays, had 2 100-yard receivers AND 2 100-yard rushers, the Jets got 45-yards on the ground and 103 in the air. It’s only one week, but it was a good week.
Burying the headline. It was a good week because the trained, professional referees were back.
Labor relations in sports has always intrigued me - the amounts of money (and it’s ALWAYS about the money) we’re talking about is staggering, but in the end the participants know the demand for the product is elastic to some degree. It was only after the outcome of the Packers/Seahawks game hinted the football public may have reached the point at which the demand elasticity may have started to show did we get movement (an outcome that may not have been incorrect and don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of NFL officiating - especially those non-calls for “in the grasp.”) It was the PERCEPTION that the replacement refs weren’t up to the task (and maybe they weren’t totally) that caused the resolution. And the perception became reality because commentators helped make the case for them. The NFL wasn’t going to win this - they can fine players and coaches who don’t tow the line, but they can’t fine network employees and it’s the talking heads who broadcast the game that form opinion. It was only a matter of time that something would happen on the field...thankfully it was a controversial call and not an injury (I will say that the Patriots/Ravens tilt was officiated by a team that could not control the sides at all).
In its purest form, Samuel Gompers’ vision of organized labor - craftsmen organizing to gain more leverage against capital - made sense. I’m not sure, though, that Referees are skilled craftsmen. What we saw for the first few weeks of the NFL season, was that the perception of experience does matter - NFL rookies will all tell you how much more quickly the game moves at the pro level than the college game. The officials the NFL was using appeared to be in over their heads. The official’s union got some big leverage because the league failed to properly plan or prepare for locking out the officials. At the start of last week, the league and officials were about $6-Million/year apart. A lot of money, for sure, but in relation to the integrity of the product this league sells for billions of dollars annually it becomes inconceivable that barely trained replacements were relied upon.
This may have been a “win” for a union, but it wasn’t a win for all unions - few represent members that have so much riding on their decisions. When it would have cost more to train up replacements than to settle the contract, you know it wasn’t a fight worth locking out the officials over.
Have a great week all - I’m pretty sure the coffee and muffins will have worked themselves through BDubs system by next week, so I would expect a return to the regularly scheduled therapy...