Friday, July 23, 2004

Game 95

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, Baltimore Orioles 0

That's better. I came to the realization that, necessary profanity asside, my rant at Terry Francona yesterday afternoon was a bit misdirected. Yelling at him is like yelling at President Bush - they're both pawns of their system. We need to take out the Dick Cheneys of the Red Sox universe to stop the corruption at the source. Specifically, the taint of Moneyball needs to be purged from the Front Office thinking about baseball.

Moneyball, besides being a book about the team-building ideas espoused by Oakland GM Billy Beane, is a concept where, simply put, statistics become the be-all and end-all of team building and by extension, team management. Here's the problem though: Beane's philosophy, apparantly, is that winning the regular season is the important goal - the playoffs are just a statistical crapshoot. That said, in the six times Oakland's been in the post season since 1988 (the last time they won the World Series), they've been knocked out each time. In the past four years, they've lost in the Divisional Series. Crapshoot they may be, but the point of playing through the season is not to win the pennant - it's to win the World Series. If getting to the post season was the important thing, Brigham's wouldn't be marketing "Reverse the Curse" ice cream* and I wouldn't be ending these missives with the mating call of Red Sox Nation.

Why is any of this relevant? Because the Red Sox Front Office is enamored with Moneyball. GM Theo Epstein is a Billy Beane disciple, the Red Sox have SABRmetrics analyst Bill James on their payroll and Terry Francona was hired partially because he believes in using stats over gut feeling. Basically, they're following a lame duck policy developed for teams with tiny payrolls, not the second largest payroll in baseball. And it's showing - Francona has under his command one of the most talented teams in baseball and the Sox are 8.5 games behind the Yankees and fighting Oakland and Chicago for the Wildcard. Grady Little, for all his foibles, can claim to have done more with less. What the Red Sox need is to ditch this straight-on-statistics approach and hire a manager who can mix a knowledge of stats with an understanding of how a player's doing - that human factor that's so important and that statistics cannot represent.

First game of a three game series against the Yankees tonight at Fenway - Schilling versus Lieber. We'll see if the streaky Sox can win more than one game every two. YANKEES SUCK!

* - take a look at that page I just linked to, if only for the amusement value. Those Brigham's people are pretty freaky...