NO EASING INTO THIS ONE

     It has been widely reported that Ben Cherington will succeed Theo Epstein as General Manager of the Boston Red Sox.  As I’ve said before, I really think Ben will do a great job.  He is very smart and thoughtful, and a good baseball man.  His first days as Sox G.M. could go a long way in defining him.  His first days will test his mettle.  no easing into the job.  There is work to be done and a lot of it.  By the time the Trick or Treaters hit the road on the 31st of October, Cherington will have formulated a list of candidates to succeed Terry Francona as Sox manager.  It’s almost like reaching into a big bowl of candy and hoping you pull out a peanut butter cup or a Kit Kat.  At worst, M & M’s.  You don’t want to reach in and get licorice, or worse, a piece of fruit.  There are a lot of choices out there.  And please remember, NONE of us did cartwheeels when Tito was introduced as Sox skipper.

     Hopefully, by the time we are carving turkey, there will be reason to give thanks.  A new manager in place and the memory of “Black September” fading.  My colleagues will already have written or spoken the multitudes of reasons “why” the new man will be successful, or a flop.  A taskmaster, a players’ manager, or somewhere in the middle?  It remains to be seen.  Perhaps Ben will see fit to hire Cathy Donovan.  Cathy Donovan was the girl who lived next door to me when I was a little kid.  She babysat my brothers and I.  She was good at it.  I’m certain she could keep an eye on those naughty boys in the Sox clubhouse.

     By the time Santa rolls into town, Ben will  be making some personnel decisions.  Won’t be easy.  Starting with Big Papi.  He was on the nice list for a long time.  In fact, winning the Clemente Award as baseballs’ top humanitarian, keeps him in the plus column, despite his indiscretions of late.  Bursting in on one of Franconas’ news conferences to complain about a scorers’ call.  His unsolicited (from management) thoughts on Alfredo Aceves being moved from the bullpen to the rotation, and his biggest booboo of all, saying he might like to play for the Yankees, while Rome was burning.  (There has to be some tie-in with the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park and the Titanic, which sunk the week that Fenway opened.)  All that aside, if Cherington and his staff feel Ortiz can continue to contribute and the price is right, he’ll be there in April as the Sox open in Detroit.  (By the way, has Ortiz ever looked thinner than he did when he accepted his Clemente Award?)  For that matter, has he ever looked more like actress Esther Rolle, “Florida Evans” of “Good Times” fame?  (Google their pictures if you don’t believe me.)

     This is not an easy time to be the General Manager of the Red Sox.  All eyes are upon you.  Not only in the “Nation”, but throughout the entire baseball world.  The Red Sox are no longer the loveable losers, cursed by the Bambino.  They are a two time World Series winner.  They are a free-spending team, with an obscenely high payroll.  Others certainly have taken delight at their free-fall.  Cherington can assure that the Sox get the last laugh.  If he does, he’ll be a hero.  Our hero.  God speed, Ben Cherington.

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