Reflection Time

I apologize for the lack of an update yesterday…just one of those days. Today we’ve got a look at the Red Sox at the quarter season mark, a look back at the Peter Gammons/Michael Felger tiff on WEEI yesterday, A Terry Francona smackdown of Michael Holley earlier in the week, Danny Ainge vowing changes to the attitude of his club and a couple other items. Before we start, the comic “Get Fuzzy” this morning had an apparent reference to Bob Lobel when it showed the characters whatching TV, one says “Is this sportscaster…DRUNK!” Another, wearing a Red Sox hat says “Lobel? Who knows.” and then it goes on a little further. The interesting part is that in your Globe today, “Lobel” has been replaced with “Him?”. Things that make you go, Hmmmm.

The Red Sox were off last night, giving writers and fans a chance to reflect on the first quarter of the season. Michael Silverman says that the baseball gods have been smiling on the Red Sox so far, and who can argue given their success despite the number of injuries they’ve had, especially to their top starting pitchers. Steven Krasner says that this team has had all the right answers to any questions people had about it to start the season. David Heuschkel says that the Red Sox are confident as a team, which makes them hard to beat. Kevin Gray observes that even though it may seem like the Red Sox are doing it with smoke and mirrors, they’re on a better pace than they were to start last season. One of the “mane” reasons for the Red Sox success has been Johnny Damon. Gordon Edes ponders the future of the long haired wonder, and whether it will be in Boston or elsewhere. Steve Buckley (subscription only) also looks at Damon, but focuses on his hitting streak, which currently sits at 17 games. Buckley says that if it gets beyond 20, attention will heat up on the Red Sox centerfielder as milestones start to appear on the horizon.

Dan Shaughnessy writes today that the Red Sox should do whatever it takes to acquire Roger Clemens for the stretch drive. While this is a nice idea, (certainly not original) I think it’s unlikely to happen. Clemens doesn’t appear to want to come back here. It certainly would be the most triumphant return in Boston sports history since…well, Antoine Walker. (I’m kidding.) Also annoying were the multiple derogatory references to Pedro Martinez…not necessary at all. Bill Reynolds looks at how winning the World Series has changed Terry Francona. Sam Allis in the Globe has a nice piece on former Sox pitcher Frank Sullivan, who was part of the inspiration for the famous Norman Rockwell painting “The Rookie”. Michael Gee has an amusing column today about beer sales at Fenway and the dilemma facing the Red Sox. In part, he says:

In response to popular demand, Sox management increased the number of beer stands at Fenway Park. Amazingly enough, beer sales then went up. Really amazingly, that fact became a banner front-page story for our competitor. Next up: a three-part investigative series on why the Charles River flows downhill.

Grasping the obvious with equal skill, the Sox noted that when people drink more beer, some of them get drunk and some of the drunks become very unpleasant company for those around them. Management is now going to scrutinize Fenway patrons to see how many need to be 86'd due to intoxication. The new beer vending stations, the Yawkey Way street fair and the park's in-house restaurant-saloon will remain in place.

He notes that beer sales are huge source of profit, but with that, they need to police behavior after said beverages are consumed. Chris Snow’s notebook looks at how the Red Sox starters have stepped up after Curt Schilling and David Wells went down. Snow also has a minor league notebook looking at Dustin Pedroia and other minor leaguers. Silverman’s notebook looks at the slow start to the season for Manny Ramirez.

Ramirez was a topic on The Big Show yesterday when Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance. He noted the “complete disappearance” of Ramirez “as a real player”. He went on to say that David Ortiz, not Ramirez, is the dominant force in the Red Sox lineup. Michael Felger questioned whether he was saying that just because Manny was struggling right now. Gammons answered with a force and anger in his voice not heard previously. He told Felger “Michael, watch the games” and said that Ortiz has been the better hitter for two years. Felger responded by saying that all he hears about is Manny being the best right handed hitter in the game. Gammons exploded again. Demanding twice to know “who said that??” dismissing that claim as not even worthy of discussion and asking Felger if he had ever heard of Albert Pujols. The whole incident was pretty odd.

What’s also odd is that as recently as six months ago, Gammons was saying those things about Manny. On December 23, 2004 Gammons wrote:

Take Manny Ramirez. He is the classic "bad contract." He cleared waivers a year ago and nearly got traded to the Mets. He also happens to be close to the best right-handed hitter in the game, he is a very nice person without any evil intent, he has the right priorities (a World Series ring and the Hall of Fame over the MVP) and by and large played very hard.

There are other references in the ESPN archives where Gammons makes similar claims. I don’t like bringing that quote up, because I have huge respect for Gammons. (This week I’ve had to disagree publicly with two of the people I respect the most in the media, Bob Ryan, and now Gammons.) Now yes, Manny has been pretty bad this year, but for Gammons to completely dismiss Felger’s statements as not worthy of discussion…when he himself made that statement six months ago is curious. Did Felger get under his skin by challenging him? Not many people challenge Gammons on anything…even if they disagree. Ordway and Buckley expressed that they didn’t totally agree with his assessments of Manny…but after Gammons left the air.

Still on baseball, earlier this week Francona made with weekly appearance with Dale & Holley, There was an interesting confrontation during that show as well. It was a little rambling, but the ending is memorable. It went as follows:

Michael Holley: You talked about the other day, not going very well against Seattle, were your options basically Meredith or Alan Embree?

Terry Francona: Well, I guess I ought of ask you, I heard you on TV, I was flipping through the channels and I should ask you what you think the options were.

MH: Ha ha