After spitting up Bob Hohler's Kool-Aid he shook up in the Boston Globe today, it finally dawned on me the true reason the Boston sports market is such an unfriendly battlefield: the back room double-crossing tactics employed by upper management and the media. Examined closely, it’s a world of double agent spy propaganda one outlet uses to sell newspapers, while the other ensures that the hot dogs and watered-down beer keep flowing at enormous rates.
The accountability of the epic failure of the 2011 Boston Red Sox is crystal clear when it comes to certain players' work ethic (or lack thereof), but the real stench you don’t see getting flushed down the toilet is the back-alley mud-slinging one corporation feeds the other in return for making sure the “Red Sox Nation” fervor is kept at bay.
Asked by many throughout the years why Boston is such a tough market to play in, hundreds, if not thousands, of players have responded “the fans' expectations”. Let’s dissect that powder-puff response momentarily.
The fans' main outlet to voice their “expectations” consists of one entity, the media. Whether it be talk radio, letters to the editor or simply voicing their displeasure at the ballpark, the vast majority of the fans are the candle, while the print/radio media serve as the wick. The Lord is not their shepherd around here; WEEI and the Boston sports rags are.
There is a rigid code to this shady, underworld agreement between the Sox Brass and the major media outlets. At times, it has been broken, leading to irreparable damage, i.e. Steve Buckley’s scathing undressing of Nomar Garciaparra’s false character he portrayed to Joe the Barber. In that particular event, I applaud Buckley for plastering his name and face all over every literary punch he delivered to Nomar’s persona.
Which brings me to Bob Hohler and the puppets connected to the strings controlled by Henry, Werner, Lucchino and Theo. The unspoken agreement of “go ahead and print it, as long as I didn’t say it” is the primary reason players refuse to play here, or wilt under the maddening culture manifested by the name on the bottom of their paychecks. It’s such a seedy underworld doctrine that even the victims (Garciaparra, Renteria, Crawford…etc) know better than to call a spade a spade.
The monetary resources this Fenway Corporation spends to protect its image could fund a minor war. Knowing this full well, players and managers take the easier way out by pointing the finger at the one percent of rabid fans instead of risking a public relations war with Henry and company, which would undoubtedly tarnish their reputation. The Fenway Group would sink each and every one of their yachts, as long as they knew the offender of “the code" was chained to the poop deck of one.
Want proof ? Look no further than Mr. Hohler’s column today. A few minor infractions by the manager on his way out of town.
- The disconnect he felt with the General Manager
- The feeling of losing support from upper management
- A sense of entitlement he was unable to squash out of a few recent acquisitions by the General Manager
This eventually led up to “Red Sox employees who want to protect their anonymity” dishing out intimate and accusatory details of Tito’s personal life. Everything from his players tuning him out completely, to details of a troubled marriage, all the way to a disparaging accusation that basically paints Francona as a drug addict, hit Tito on his way out the door.
There’s only one word to accurately describe the actions collectively taken by the Red Sox employees and Bob Hohler today: gutless (sorry, make that two words: cowardly and gutless).
I’ve learned a few things about becoming a true man. First on the list is: if you’re going to let a puppet journalist put your accusation about someone being a drug addict in mass print, put your name to it. Better yet, plaster your face all over it. The defendant has a right to question his prosecutor, rather than fight a cowardly ghost. The same principle applies for putting a man’s marriage on blast.
I live, breathe and bleed the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. I used to believe the worst aspect of Boston fans was the “Pink Hats,” aka the wine and cheese blind not-so-faithful crowd. Today I was proven wrong.
This Red Sox regime will literally stop at no cost to protect their brand. It’s a sad epiphany to realize the true reason many superstar players avoid this organization like the plague has nothing to do with the fanbase, rather the Evil Empire spin machine they live in fear of.