As I enter my eighth season as voice of the PawSox, I realize I have been fortunate to witness the emergence of many great players since 2004. Pedroia, Youkilis, Lester etc. You sense when a kid may become a success. Sometimes you’re right. Clay Buchholz was one such guy for me. His “stuff” was undeniable in the minor leagues. The question was whether he’d be able to harness his immense gifts and succeed at the Major League level. Well, we now know the answer to that. In 2010, Clay stepped out of the shadows and went 17-7 with a sparkling 2.33 ERA, second best in the American League. Buch also made his first All Star team, as well, and finished 6th in the American League Cy Young voting. Not bad for a young man who went into Spring Training not knowing whether he’d be in Boston or back at McCoy. Clay told me he is ready for whatever Fort Myers offers this Spring. “I feel good. The approach is locking down a spot in this rotation. The stress isn’t going to be there like it has in the past couple of years. Although, I think it did actually make it better the last couple of Spring Trainings, knowing the spot wasn’t mine. I had to earn it. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, and there’s no need to stop now.”
Clay Buchholz has journeyed up and down route 95, between McCoy and Fenway many times. That is one of the reasons he relishes the success he enjoyed in 2010. “It was awesome. It was a fun season. I overcame a lot of struggles I went through and learned a lot too. It definitely helped me to get the confidence that I needed to have to go out there and pitch every five days in this town, and against the competition we play every day.”
The young Texan is somewhat cautious when the term “Ace of the Staff” is thrown at him. “When you’re a little kid, growing up, in your wildest dreams, if you were ever mentioned in the same sentence as Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey…it would make my world. That’s sort of where I’m at right now.”
While Clay enjoyed personal success in 2010, he is hungry for team success in 2011. Buch is excited about the group in Fort Myers, and what they could accomplish. “This team is one of the best teams anyone’s ever seen on paper, right now. Pedey is back healthy, Youk’s healthy and the key acquisitions they made during the offseason, it’s definitely going to be something to watch.”
Another event that the Sox had to endure in 2010 was the tragic accident that claimed the leg of first base coach Ron Johnnsons’ daughter, Bridget. Buch and RJ go way back to their time together in the minor leagues. Clay was looking foward to Johnsons’ return. “RJ’s the best. He never changed. When he got to the Big Leagues, he never changed, and that’s what everybody loves about him. He is a guy who will always make you laugh. He helps us, because he helps keep everyone relaxed.”
A burgeoning career, a beautiful wife and a new daughter. Life is good these days for Clay Buchholz. He appreciates it. “I never expected I’d have a baby as good as Colby is. She never cries. Lindsay and I are just keeping our fingers crossed.” Colby got here just in time to watch her daddy pitch for the Red Sox.
For the second straight year, the Red Sox had to go out and replace their Triple A manager. Torey Lovullo replaced Ron Johnson a year ago and has since joined John Farrell’s staff in Toronto. While Lovullo came from outside the organization, hiring him was a “no-brainer” according to Terry Francona. This time the Sox promoted from within, bringing Arnie Beyeler up from Double A Portland. Mike Hazen is the director of player development for the Sox and he has high praise for the work done by the new PawSox skipper. “His passion and work ethic make him the right guy. I think that’s been consistent with the guys we’ve had here and that’s one of the more important qualities that we see in any manager at any level. That’s why he was so deserving of being promoted to this level. He brings an energy level, day in and day out, that really is unmatched in our system. The players feed off of that. It’s not about wins or losses every day, it’s the enthusiasm that you need to have over the course of a 144 game schedule. We’re pretty fortunate to have him in our system the last four years and now taking over at Triple A.”
While the Sox have always liked Beyeler, they passed him over in 2010 in favor of Lovullo. A year later, the time is right. Hazen says that the Red Sox weren’t surprised that Beyeler did the job last season in Portland, despite what fans may have regarded as a snub. “From a development standpoint, the job in Double A and Triple A are equally important. Externally, it looks like a true promotion, but we try to put the guys in a position where they are going to have an impact on the players. Last year, we made the decision that it was going to be Torey. This year, it’s Arnie.” Hazen added that Beyelers’ knowledge of the players in the system is a factor. “It wasn’t that he did anything differently last year in comparison to the other three he’s been here, we felt like it was the best time for him to come up here and take over these players. There are a lot of players comng to Pawtucket this year that he’s already managed and we feel like extending that relationship is important.”
Hazen and Lovullo had previously worked together in the Indians system. When you saw the two together, it was evident they are good friends. Hazen says there are no mixed emotions for him as his friend leaves. He is happy for him. ”No, I love him. He’s like a brother to me, he always has been, ever since I’ve been around professional baseball. I know how badly he wanted to coach at the Major League level. It’s just like a player. That’s their goal. To watch them go and do it, you feel happiness and joy for them. Hopefully, he’ll have success. Not against us, but he will have success and go on to bigger and better things, as well. I’m really happy for Torey.”
While injuries decimated Boston and in turn, Pawtucket in 2010, it’s time to turn the page. Hazen reluctantly admits, that the PawSox could be a force in the International League this season. “That’s the kiss of death, isn’t it? I thought we were a good team on paper last year, as well. When you play with a dfferent roster every day, that is what happens at the minor league level. You get stuck with a bunch of injuries, guys get moved up and you lose your best players every day, that can present a challenge. If we can maintain our health at the Major League level, we should be pretty good down here.”
Quick, what Red Sox farmhand lead the entire development system in strikeouts in 2010? If you said “Robert Coello”, you know your stuff. The 6’5 righthander made the meteoric rise from AA Portland through Pawtucket and finished his season with the Boston Red Sox. The 26 year old notched 130 strikeouts in 122 and a third minor league innings. Coello took part in the rookie development program this winter and that speaks volumes to his ascent through the system. Coello has the heart of a lion and his self confidence is at an all-time high. “The biggest thing is to continue to make those strides, throw everything off my fastball and to maintain a Big League mentality.”
What makes Robert Coello’s story so much more remarkable, is that he hasn’t been pitching all that long. The Florida native was originally drafted in 2004 by the Reds as a catcher. He went from behind the plate to the mound as an Angels minor leaguer in 2007. The Red Sox plucked him from the scrap heap prior to the 2009 season. Now he has the words “Major Leaguer” on his resume. Coello admits that some times that even he can’t believe what has happened in the last couple of years. “Sometimes you wake up and you have to really remember where you are. I start out in Portland and was doing my thing, getting into my routine. Then, I’m in Pawtucket and I start to do my thing here. Then, all of a sudden, I’m in Boston, or we’re in New York, or where ever you are. It’s been fun, but I’m always ready to keep it on a straight plane, and keep making more strides.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that two of Roberts’ biggest influences are two of the more beloved members of the Red Sox family. One a current star and the other, a great former star. “When I first got here, Luis Tiant was phenomenal. We talked and he has always been good to me. He is like another father to me. David Ortiz, same thing. Fantastic. All the bullpen guys, just terrific. Honestly, all the guys have been great.”
Coello looks toned and fit as the start of Spring Training approaches. He really didn’t take any time off this winter. He continued to hone his skills at Winter Ball. “I didn’t slow down. I pitched in the Dominican (Republic), Mexico. I worked on all my stuff, so when I get to Fort Myers, I’m going to be ready.”
Coello is blessed with strong family support. It’s not uncommon to see his mom, brother or even his little nephew, Vincent, Jr. at McCoy. When little Vincent is not at the game, I speak directly to him over the air. I tell him it’s time to put down the video game and pay attention. Uncle Robert is pitching. His dad says he responds, and immediately puts down the game. Ahhh, the power I wield. Coello doesn’t take his familys’ support for granted. “They are always behind me. The ups and downs. From catcher to pitcher. No job, to here with the Red Sox. It’s so good.”
When Coello (Kway-oh) arrived in Pawtucket for the first time in 2009, even his manager, Ron Johnson, didn’t know how to pronounce his name. “Cool-oh, or Cwell-oh” were just a couple the ways it was said. Another year in 2011 like the last, and everyone will be saying it correctly.
Baseball players come from all over. All over the country and all over the world. From small community colleges and from perennial powerhouses like USC or Arizona State. They even come from the Ivy League. Hall of Famers like Lou Gehrig and Eddie Collins, who both starred at Columbia top the list. Bill Almon, the former number one pick in the draft was a standout at Brown University. More recently, lefty Craig Breslow of the Athletics, who was an International League All Star with Pawtucket has carried the Ivy banner as a Yale grad. “The Sporting News” tabbed Breslow as “The smartest athlete in the world”, and the “Wall Street Journal” surmised that he could be the “smartest man in the world.” Knowing Craig, I would not disagree. I can vivdly remember him trying to explain his college major at Yale to me. Molecular biophysics and biochemistry. I had to check the dictionary just to type it into this space! Aside from being one of the most reliable relievers in the Bigs over the last two seasons (152 appearances in 2009 and 2010, combined) Breslow founded the Strike 3 Foundation, raising money for cancer research. His inspiration is his sister, Leslie, who was diagnosed with cancer when the pair were children. Leslie is a 17 year cancer survivor.
There is another Eli on the horizon. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, 23, is coming off an impressive 2010 campaign. He combined to hit .288 with 22 Homers and 102 rbi. While at Yale, he became the Ivy Leagues’ All-Time home run leader with 33. Ryan was a semi-finalist for the Johnny Bench Award and the Golden Spikes Award in 2008. The Red Sox selected the 6’4″ catcher in the sixth round of the 2008 draft. Lavarnway was introduced to Breslow when the catcher was an undergrad, and they have maintained the relationship. “Craig came and spoke to us at Yale when I was a junior. He talked about the Strike 3 Foundation. We were all just college kids with no money, though. I think Coach (John) Stuper just wanted us to meet. We’ve kept in contact. When he was with the Twins, at Spring Training, we spent some time together (in Fort Myers). He’s a great guy. He’s helped me out a lot.”
With the unproven Jarrod Saltalamacchia listed as the #1 catcher in Boston and Jason Varitek, in the twilight of his career, as the backup, Lavarnway knows that Red Sox Nation is the land of opportunity for a young, talented backstop. “In the long run, I want to help this team win and I want to be that guy. It’s a great opportunity to be coming up in the system at this time. The Sox are such a storied franchise. So many great players. Jason Varitek has always been one of my favorite players, since I was a kid. I hope to learn a lot from him at Spring Training and throughout this year. Hopefully, I’ll earn the opportunity to come up and help the Red Sox win.”
Lavarnway is excited about heading south and getting started. As a catcher, he’ll get ample chance to show his stuff to Terry Francona. With all the pitchers there, there’s always a need for catchers, and Lavarnway will take advantage of the situation. “It’s a good opportunity to get to know the Major League pitchers. These guys who have tremendous stuff are some of the best pitchers in the game. Going into this year, I would rank our Major League staff at the top of the league. It’s tough to catch those guys if you’ve never caught them before. You need to get to know what kind of pitches they throw in which situations. When they bounce their curveball, when they like to expand the zone. I’m going to really bear down at Spring Training and get to know these guys a little bit.”
With his Ivy League education in his back pocket, Ryan Lavarnway should be a quick study.
As the PawSox 2011 Hot Stove event unfolded at McCoy Stadium earlier this month, the most frequently asked question I heard as the fans lined up for player autographs, was asked of 24 year old rightrhander, Jason Rice. The affable, 24 year old answered patiently and nicely dozens of times as he was continually queried if he was related to another former PawSox standout, Hall of Famer, Jim Rice. “No” he’d smile, “I’m not.” Rice understands the question and he doesn’t seem to mind. “Ya know, it’s funny. I get it a lot. With the same last name and everything…I think it’s pretty cool to be asked that.”
Not only aren’t they related, they have never met. Jason hopes that changes in February in Fort Myers. “I hope to meet him this year at Spring Training. Hopefully, I’ll get called up to a Big League game and get a chance to meet him. I know he’s with the Big Leaguers in Spring Training and does a lot with the organization. We’ll see what happens.” (For the record, Jason is not related to Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, either.)
In 2010, Rice, a rule 5 guy who came over from the White Sox in 2008, was the closer for the Double A Portland Sea Dogs. Rice notched 13 saves in 48 appearances (all in relief) to earn a third place tie in the Red Sox minor league system in that department. In 2009, at Salem, Rice dominated with a 2.44 ERA in 41 games, allowing just 38 hits in 70 innings, striking out 94. Jason pitched under Manager Arnie Beyeler last season and hopes to do so again, this time at McCoy. “Arnie was our skipper last year and he got promoted , so congratulations to him. The biggest thing is, you’ve got to work hard and put your time in. I’ll go to Spring Training and try my best. I will fight for a job.”
Jason Rice took part in the Red Sox rookie development program in January. It was his first trip to Boston, although he lamented coming close to playing at Fenway Park in 2010. “I had dreamt of what the field looks like and how it would feel to play there. When I got “fived” here, I went to High A, and I was pretty upset that Lowell went there and got to play in Futures at Fenway. I had missed it by a year. I was, like, ‘Darn it!’, Oh well.” If it makes Jason feel any better, the PawSox are scheduled to be in the Futures at Fenway in 2011 on August 20, against Syracuse.
Maybe, by then, Jason Rice will have met Jim Rice.
One of the highlights of the PawSox annual Hot Stove event is meeting the young men who might wear the Pawtucket uniform during the upcoming season. Over the years, I have gotten a first glimpse of guys like Kelly Shoppach, David Murphy and Daniel Bard. This years group included pitcher Stephen Fife, a 24 year old right hander out of the University of Utah. Fife had recently participated in the Red Sox rookie development program and it meant an awful lot to him. “It’s a tremendous honor. To think that they bring 11 guys in and there are probably 150-180 guys in the system, that they think that highly of me to have me come in for two weeks. I definitely take it as a huge honor.” Fife continued. “They bring in all kinds of resources to talk to you and teach you invaluable lessons that you won’t get anywhere else.”
The 2008, third round pick says the program is an incredible bonding experience. “No matter where you go in baseball, it is a bonding experience. You’re in the clubhouse, building friendships, spending time together. This just helps it grow deeper.” One relationship that existed long before this months’ program, was the one he has cultivated with former #1 prospect, Ryan Westmoreland, the Portsmouth RI native who underwent brain surgery last March. Fife says despite geographical challenges, the two manage to keep in touch. “I try to be as close to him as I can. Obviously the distance between us makes it harder. I’ll be staying with him at Spring Training. He’s just a tremendous kid with a huge heart and a great family. I really enjoy being around him.”
Fife remains optimistic that his friend will lead a normal life and is confident that a career in baseball is still a distinct possibility. “I believe that him getting back to normal is just around the corner. He is progressing pretty rapidly. He’s hitting balls out of the park right now. His work ethic and mentality have never changed. His personality either. I fully expect him to be back on the field some time this year at some point. Hopefully, he’ll break camp and go to Greenville or maybe even Salem. Even if he gets to Lowell at mid-season finishing up his rehab, I fully expect to see him in uniform this season, in a lineup.”
Stephen Fife is a young, strong athlete. Like a lot of guys, he felt an air of invincibility. After being around Westmoreland and cancer survivor Anthony Rizzo who was traded to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, Fife realizes that nothing in life is guaranteed. “You can’t take anything for granted. Crazy things happen in this world. Crazy things happen to people every day. If it is all taken away from me tomorrow, I hope I can look back and say I didn’t leave anything on the field. You have to live today for what it is. You have to enjoy life as much as you can. Meet people and be as good a friend as you can. That’s something Rizzo and Ryan have in common. No matter how bad they felt or how down they were about not being on the field, they both continued to be the same guys, and they’ve both made it back .”
This past week, dating to last Thursday, has been a refreshing reminder of what is around the corner. It began on Thursday, as I travelled to Boston with my dear friend Joe McDonald of espnboston.com for the annual Boston Baseball Writers Association of America Dinner at the Westin. Joe not only covers the Red Sox, but also the Boston Bruins. Part one of our “excellent adventure” took us to the TD Garden for the Bruins morning skate. They would lose to the Sabres that night. Not a big hockey guy, I did correctly identify Zdeno Chara (the Bruins do not wear numbers on their jerseys during a skate) I shouldn’t be that proud. On skates, Chara is almost 7 feet tall. Nonetheless, it was interesting to listen to Coach Claude Juliens’ comments. Ran into some old friends like Bruins radio broadcaster, the talented Dave Goucher. Also Kathryn Tappen from NESN. Kathryn used to work at Channel 10 in Providence. For my money, she is the complete package on TV. Knowledgable, likeable, and very easy on the eyes.
After lunch, we ventured to the Westin for the media opportunity with the Red Sox luminaries who’d be at the dinner that night. Terry Francona, Jed Lowrie, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Clay Buchholz and Anthony Rizzo were there and you will hear from all of them in the coming days on this blog. It is always heartwarming to see your former PawSox friends who have gone on to Big League success, remember you and take special time aside to chat. Clay and his beautiful wife Lindsey have a six month old daughter, Colby, and Buch was understandably proud.
The dinner is always interesting. I’ve been fortunate to attend many times over the years. Always look forward to hearing what the guys have to say. Sometimes the speeches are a letdown, but Darnell McDonald did not disappoint us when he accepted the “Jackie Jensen Hustle Award” named in honor of the Red Sox former American League MVP. After a very cordial and heartfelt acceptance, he asked us to remember the family of little Christina Green, the 9 year old girl who was tragically killed in Arizona on the same day Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot. Christinas’ father John, was the scout who signed Darnell to his first professional contract. Johns’ father is Dallas Green, who managed the Phillies to the 1980 World Series title.
For those of us seated at Table 16, the highlight of the night came when it was announced that henceforth, the New England player of the year will receive the “Ben Mondor Award.” This years’ recipient is Carl Pavano, the former PawSox righty who won 17 games in 2010 with the Twins. Pawtucket Red Sox team president, Mike Tamburro was eloquent and no doubt, emotional as he spoke on behalf of the organization. I later asked Mike what life has been like since Ben passed away, last fall. “I think that paternal feeling that has been looking over all of us for so long is missing. Some of us have to step up and try to fill his shoes to a bit of a degree. We’ve lost a very special guy and I think that drives each of us to try to do a little more, be a little more and make this organization as good as it can be.” One of Bens’ favorite lines was always “I’m not a jock like you guys, I’m a businessman. What happens on the field matters little to me.” It was so transparent, because Ben cared very much about the results between the lines. I knew it and certainly Mike knew it. “He always talked like that, but there was no bigger baseball fan in this building than Ben. I don’t think he missed a pitch in 33 years. He sat in that box and he would not leave until the last pitch was thrown. He loved this game.”
Mike admitted that tributes to Ben Mondor would take place this season, but wasn’t ready to share them just yet. “We’re still putting all those plans together. There’ll be an announcement as we get closer to the season and opening day for what we plan in Bens’ memory.” Whether it’s a patch on the uniform, a statue or the renaming of the ballpark, it will be greatly deserved and anticipated. Tamburro says that he won’t go against Bens’ wishes and rename McCoy Stadium. “To be honest, we’ve been approached by the city fathers, and that’s not what Ben wanted. We’ve got some ideas that will eventually take the place of that, that will give him a fitting position in this stadium.”
Spring Training begins in 3 weeks. Get ready!
It has been cold around here. Very cold. Snow and ice on the ground, wind whipping, teeth chattering, people shivering. Winter…it stinks. The holidays are over and thankfully we have the Patriots and Celtics (and Bruins too, Joe) to keep us interested. Good news. Baseball can’t be that far off if it is time again for the annual Pawtucket Red Sox Hot Stove celebration at McCoy Stadium. It’s coming this Saturday January 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and it is absolutely FREE.
“Hot Stove” conjures up the image of a couple of old-timers gathered around a wood burning stove, speculating and prognosticating about their favorite teams. That may be the old image of the Hot Stove. Come to McCoy on Saturday and you will see thousands of fans pack into the home clubhouse and indoor batting cage to get a glimpse (and a photo and autograph) of their “Boys of Summer”. Men, women, young, old. All races and walks of life. Great PawSox fans who are the faithful ones. They’ll line up early Saturday morning, clutching their photos, bats, baseballs and anything else they want to get signed. I am usually in the hitting cage, conducting the session there, hosting and fielding questions for the guys, while P.R. guru, Bill Wanless does the same thing in the PawSox clubhouse.
Once we get this event on the calendar, the countdown to Spring Training and Opening Day begins. The PawSox open April 7th at home against Rochester. Can’t wait. Given the talent the Red Sox should have in Boston, Pawtucket should be loaded. The PawSox look for their first playoff berth since 2008. It’s a long season and a long way off, but the playoffs would be great again.
Fans will be getting their first up close and personal look at new manager, Arnie Beyeler. He most recently managed in Portland. I know that Maine is part of “the Nation”, but I think he’ll be pleasantly surprised at the knowledge and fervor of Pawtucket Red Sox fans.
Fans who are chomping at the bit, will be able to buy tickets at the box office and purchase the latest PawSox merchandise in the team store. Food and drinks will be available to fans, absolutely free. It is a great day and there’s no way to beat it. Whoever told you that a “robin” is the first sign of spring obviously was not a baseball fan.
Incidentally, the PawSox will be accepting donations of non-perishable food items on Saturday to help benefit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. PawSox fans have always been notoriously generous and I’m certain this Saturday won’t be any different. I look forward to seeing you!
I think the voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame spoke loudly and clearly as they cast their ballots for the Class of 2011. Second Baseman Roberto Alomar was a cinch, receiving an overwhelming 90 % approval. Alomar, in his second year on the ballot, got over the hump of the 75% of the vote needed for enshrinement. Bert Blyleven, snubbed 13 times before by the voters earned almost 80% of the voters approval this time around. Both the players deserve admission. The one blight on Alomars’ baseball resume came when he spat on umpire John Hirschbeck in 1996. Alomar alleged that he was reacting to a racial slur the umpire directed towards him. A year later, the two shook hands at home plate after Alomar had been fined $50,000 and served a suspension. Alomar claims that the two have become friends and have worked together for charity. Blyleven was, to me, the pitching version of Jim Rice. Clearly, at least statistically, the righthander with the devastating curveball deserves the nod. He had been outspoken in past years when he had come up short.
To me, the interesting thing about this years voting, was more about who didn’t get in, or even get close. We are seeing the fallout from the steroid era in baseball. Players like John Franco, John Olerud and Marquis Grissom will be spared further embarassment. They will be removed from future ballots for not receiving the requisite 5% necessary to stay on. Others like Dave Parker, who’ve been on the ballot 15 years, will have to rely on the kindness of the Veterans’ Committee, if they still hold out hope. (Side note- Luis Tiant is still, in my mind, the best player NOT in the Hall. Wake up Veterans’ Committee!!)
The “steroid guys” are the interesting component in the voting. Players who have been linked to the use of performance enhancing drugs (ped’s). I guess the poster boys for this gang are Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. The duo combined for 1152 career home runs, yet neither received as much as 12% of the necessary votes. For Big Mac, it was his fifth try and for Raffy, his first. I don’t know if we will ever see either one in Cooperstown. Right now, it’s easy for the writers to not vote for them, or anyone else linked to ped’s. In the coming years, the dust will settle and we may have a better perspective on the entire situation. There’s no real way to tell if any current member of the Hall got in with “some help”, but for the time being, if you are under suspicion, you’re out the door.
I don’t know Bobby Jenks. Never have met him. Of course, I’d recognize him if I saw him, but anyway… He is very high on my list of new favorite people, after reading his comments about his former manager in Chicago, Ozzie Guillen. Jenks said something to the effect of how nice it would be pitching in Boston, for a manager who knows how to run a bullpen. Ozzie Guillen has been one of my least favorite baseball people (Non-Yankee category) forever. Ever since his days as a malcontent under his manager, Terry Bevington with the White Sox. Guillen is a guy who just doesn’t know how to keep his mouth shut. Winning the World Series in 2005 has bought him a ton of good will in the Windy City. I lived in Chicago for a couple of years and on the sports totem pole, the White Sox are way down. They love Da Bears, the Cubs, the Bulls and again the Blackhawks, now that they’re good again. There are a few things that we, as New England sports fans, shouldn’t take for granted. #1- Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Obvious reasons. #2- Terry Francona. I don’t know if Tito is the best manager in baseball, but he’s done an exceptional job in Boston. He is the right man for that job. He will never embarass the organization with a stupid comment. He will always stand up for his players. The same can’t be said for Guillen. He has, over the years, been publicly critical of his charges and his club.
Thus, it isn’t surprising that his son, Oney is a loose cannon, too. Oney resigned from his job in the White Sox scouting department (Gee, how’d he get the job?) last Spring after offending the organization with his “tweeting”. Prior to that, he had been critical of Chicago General Manager, Ken Williams. Not the smartest thing you could do. My guess is that Ozzie Guillen commended him, rather than admonish him for biting the hand that feeds his family. It’s a different world today. When I was a kid, if a call came to my house from a teacher that said I was misbehaving (not that it ever really happened), I was punished for my indiscretion. I have a couple of dear friends who are teachers today. If a similar call is made to a house, the parents are ready to “lawyer up”. “My little Johnny would never do such a thing!!” I have news for you. Yes he would.
I will never forget the time I was accosted by an angry parent of a Syracuse University football player I had criticized for a dumb move he made. Shelby Hill was avery talented and likeable wide receiver at S.U. The Orangemen were getting crushed in Miami and in frustration, Hill picked up an incompleted pass and punted the ball into the stands. I criticized him on the postgame call-in show for letitng down the kids who were watching, his teammates and his school. A week later, as I was about to begin the pre-game show at the Carrier Dome, literally, minutes before I was to go on the air, I hear a booming voice behind me. “Who’s the guy that does the call-in show?” I stood up and said “I do. What can I do for you?” “I’m J.D. Hill. How dare you criticize my son?” J.D. Hill was a former NFL player, who should have known better. He was coming after me and I believe, to this day, that he would have hit me if security hadn’t intervened. “The very fact that you defend him, tells me all I need to know about why he did what he did.” Needless to say, I was still fuming when the post-game show started and I vented. Most of the callers supported me, but not all of them. Anyway, Just another example of the apple not falling far from the tree.
I hope Bobby Jenks is a tremendous success with the Red Sox.
I want to take a moment to congratulate my friend and colleague Dan Barbarisi of the Providence Journal. The Red Sox beat writer, who introduced me to the concept of “paragraphs”, has accepted a position with the “Wall Street Journal”. All the best!