The photo is one of a button that the old Merchant’s Bank used to distribute before all Big East games. They would have a contest and choose a winning phrase for beating each opponent in the old Big East conference. Back in the day, I had my own season tickets to Syracuse U. basketball games. In the upper row of the second level, on the corner of the court behind the benches–I needed a Sherpa guide and oxygen to make it to the seats. But it was great. Late 80′s thru the early 90′s. The small-time eastern basketball program that I watched in Manley Field House had morphed into a national power–playing in the mighty Big East conference and dragging in crowds that sometimes topped 30,000 for our most heated foes–especially Georgetown. Continue reading
So I’ll meet you at the bottom
If there really is one
They always told me when you hit it you’ll know it
But I’ve been falling so long
It’s like gravity’s gone
And I’m just floating”
–Gravity’s Gone, Drive-By Truckers
Last year, when the Red Sox went an incredible 7-20 in the month of September, the team that had been leading the major leagues in most batting categories and had the best record in baseball fell out of the playoffs and kicked off a riotous off-season of recriminations and attempts to affix blame on various parts of the team. (out-of-shape and over-entitled players, a manager not willing to be tough on players, internal feuds between the business side and the “baseball guys” in the front office, out-of-touch owners.)
Well, they fired the manager, the GM departed on his own and several players were cut or traded. And then things got worse. Continue reading
I have been a fan of the sports teams fielded by my hometown college (but NOT alma mater) Syracuse University since I was a young child. My parents were both alums and had season football tickets since the 1950′s. They were fond of pointing out that I attended all the home games of S.U.’s 1959 national champions–albeit in utero! I pestered my father unmercifully until he got season basketball tickets for games at the old Manley Field House in the early 1970′s.
While life, work and family have supplanted S.U. sports as the dominant interest in my life, I’m still a fan and still want the school’s teams to succeed. There will be one major change for Orange fans–starting July 1, 2013, Syracuse will leave the Big East Conference to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Continue reading
Sometimes, civic life just gets to be too much. The split between the obstructionist Republicans and the obsequious Democrats. The split between the self-righteous left and the corporate-toadie Democrats. The vitriol, posturing and pre-fab ideologies just makes me want to hide at times. During the middle of the debt-ceiling crisis last summer I found my refuge: sports talk radio! Continue reading
E-mail to a friend in California, commiserating with a long-suffering S.U. basketball fan in exile after S.U.’s defeat in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals (the elite 8)
Well, another year of delusion is over. Continue reading
OK, OK enough about the collapse. We get it. A distracted and defeated manager felt betrayed by players and lost control of some monstrous egos. The team often played without emotion, with poor fundamentals and had several players become out of shape at the end of the year. The management was distracted by the moneymaking side of the business and was out of the loop on the problems.
Did Theo Epstein know? Did Larry Lucchino know? The real dysfunction has always been between those two. The tensions caused Theo to walk out once before, until management handed the reins of all baseball operations to Theo and moved Lucchino into the business-side management of the Sox.
But here’s why I am optimistic that the Sox can rebound next year. (Yes this is the obligatory hope-springs-eternal post.) Continue reading
On September 1, Boston was in first place in the American League East. The Sox had a half-game lead over the Yankees for the division title and a nine game lead over Tampa Bay for the American League playoff wild card slot. The Sox had a .610 winning percentage. Over the final month of the season, the Sox went all Dante on us (“abandon all hope, ye who enter . . .”) They managed to win only seven more games, while losing twenty. Their final record of 90-72 put them in third place in the AL East, seven games behind the Yankees and one game behind Tampa Bay–and out of the playoffs.
There are various types of explanations for the collapse: stathead (mostly centering around pitching and fielding); trad. baseball shibboleths (lack of heart and team chemistry) and just plain observations that pieced together certainly don’t look good (poor physical conditioning, pitchers drinking beer in the clubhouse on days they didn’t pitch–during the game being played.) Here are my observations: a fan from the dusty outback of Red Sox Nation. I follow the team by reading the box scores, following a couple of web sites (mainly Joy of Sox) and catching a couple of innings here and there on the radio. Continue reading
Seth Mnookin wrote a phenomenal book a couple years ago about the post-2004 championship Red Sox titled “Feeding The Monster.” The premise of the book was that the huge expectations of fans and press (and the demands for win NOW–at all costs) had to be managed, while not taking your eyes off the actions needed to ensure the long-term viability of the franchise. Sometimes the interests of NOW! and long-term are not in synch–and the anger and vitriol boil over. Continue reading
The brilliant Joe Posnanski* notes that EVERYONE will be talking about the 2013 baseball Hall of Fame elections: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa all become eligible. It will sort out what everyone feels about the steroid era.
* I could save a lot of time and effort just by reposting Joe on baseball and Springsteen!
For me 2013 will be less about steroids and more about whether Curt Schilling of the Sox makes it in. C’mon! Remember the bloody sock? Stitching ankle tendons to ankle bone? The best post-season pitcher EVER! Posnanski seems to think that Schilling will be one of those players that slowly accrues more votes and eventually makes it in. If that’s the case–make it 2015 guys. That’s when Pedro Martinez is a dead lock 1st ballot inductee. C’mon Cooperstown–half of Red Sox Nation will descend on upstate NY for that one!