Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Free Fall

This hasn't been a good summer to be a New England baseball fan, especially not over the past month, which has left we of the Nation feeling like we'd been taken out behind Gate D and worked over with a sock full of Mannies.

Or something. Even the clever metaphors fail us now.

Usually around this stage of the fold, you start hearing the axe being sharpened and readied for the hapless manager's neck. The tumbrels might well have started rumbling long about the time of Boston Massacre '06, when the Yanks came thru and took five straight -- but interestingly, the Sox Faithful seem quite willing to cut Our Man Francoma a lot more slack than lesser men in the same position have earned over the years. Even the Boston Globe, which ordinarily would be rattling around the kitchen drawer looking for just the right knife, has acknowledged it's not Tito's fault the whole team has fallen apart. As Nick Cafardo points out in today's issue, the blame can be found upstairs.

Francona didn't get dumb this season. He manages and prepares the same way he always did. Instead of writing in Damon's name, he puts down Coco Crisp, a player who can barely throw the ball back to the infield. Instead of trotting out Pedro Martínez or Derek Lowe every fifth day, it's been Jon Lester, a 22-year-old rookie who went on the disabled list yesterday, and Kyle Snyder and Jason Johnson and Kason Gabbard. Yikes.

Management let Francona down, and he hasn't made a peep about it.

So, Theo, how about it? Making plans for this winter? 'Cause you're sure gonna have a boring fall.

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