It just never stops around here. The Red Sox finally win their first World Series in 86 years. People are buying Red Sox dog bones for their furry friends and every other Christmas card in the mail includes a photo of the commissioner's trophy (you'll be able to borrow the thing for your son's bar mitzvah by June). We have a championship football team that has won something like 151 of its last 152 games.
And yet . . . there is turmoil in Red Sox Nation. In December. When we should be roasting chestnuts and settling in for the NFL playoffs.
A series of seismic events shook up the Nation in the past week and the Red Sox will be feeling the aftershocks deep into the 2005 season and beyond. The Yankees signed Carl Pavano. The Red Sox signed David Wells. Pedro Martinez bolted for the Mets. Curt Schilling said he wouldn't be ready for Opening Day. Edgar Renteria left the Cardinals and joined the Red Sox. Kevin Millar said there was no room for Doug Mientkiewicz and himself on the roster. Pedro went to Shea Stadium and insulted Schilling, Theo Epstein, and Terry Francona. The Yankees made a trade for Randy Johnson (we think). Schilling blasted back at Pedro. The Red Sox signed former Cubs righthander Matt Clement.
It was dizzying. Some of it was important, some of it ridiculous, and it made me feel sorry for the worthy Foxborough footballers who go about their business with ultimate professionalism, win every week, yet continue to be buried under an avalanche of ashes swept out of a scalding hot stove.
Random observations on the wacky week of Hub hardball:
The Pedro and Curt stuff Thursday and Friday reminded me of John and Paul firing salvos after the Beatles broke up. Remember Lennon and McCartney singing together for the last time in "Two of Us" on the "Let It Be" album? That's Pedro and Curt doing all that phony hugging in the early hours after the win in St. Louis. The problem was rooted in Pedro's childishness and his insatiable quest for respect. He never could get used to Schilling being the top dog. Schilling tried to be nice about it during the season, even to the point of chastising the media when Pedro was blasted for leaving Camden Yards during the season opener. But after Pedro ripped Schilling Thursday, the gloves came off and Schilling cited the Camden caper, asking, "What does that say about the respect he has for his teammates?"
You might have missed this latest bonbon from Pedro in the Dominican Friday: "[The Red Sox] will field the best bad team in baseball history."
The Diva certainly left in style. We just could never respect him enough, no matter how much Boston tried. And respect was always a one-way street for a guy who disrespected his teammates and bosses on a daily basis. There's no denying his talent or achievement, but Pedro's no-class departure makes Roger Clemens's flight to Toronto look downright dignified.
Renteria hasn't felt the need to blast the Cardinals, but in St. Louis his departure is viewed much the way Pedro's choice is seen here. He took Boston's $40 million over St. Louis's $39 million. Like Pedro he left a good situation for a pay raise. Unlike Pedro, he's going to a good team. He's already part of Red Sox history because he hit the grounder to Keith Foulke for the final out and there were some Ruthian overtones in his Cardinal No. 3. Renteria will wear No. 16 with the Red Sox -- issued to Tony Womack last spring, then worn by Ricky Gutierrez. Sixteen was Terry Francona's Sox number when he was hired, but the manager switched to 47 (few people know Francona's number since he always wears his oil-changing sweatshirt). Sixteen was best worn by Jim Lonborg in 1967 and Bill Buckner wore it during his cathartic comeback with the Sox in 1990. Nutty Professor Joe Kerrigan also wore 16.
Clement should help the Boston rotation, but remember that the Sox took Derek Lowe-for-Clement off the table at the height of the Nomar Garciaparra trade talks in late July. Now Clement gets three years for $25 million after Lowe turned down three years and $27 million last spring. In retrospect, it was good that Epstein held on to Lowe because of what Lowe did in October. But the Sox have been obvious about their lack of interest in Lowe during this offseason. He did not pitch well in 2003 or 2004 and they feel a three-year commitment is too much, even though he saved their bacon in the fall and has a free delivery that should protect him from physical breakdowns. A rotation with Pedro and Lowe figures to be stronger than one with Wells and Clement, but the Sox made up their minds that Lowe is out of the mix for the future.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have reloaded with Johnson (we think) and Pavano. The Yankees have finished first in seven consecutive seasons and at this hour, New York's rotation looks better than Boston's. No one said this was going to be easy.
Finally, there's the first base situation. Millar said this town's not big enough for himself and Mientkiewicz, and Epstein agreed. Look for Millar to be traded. Mientkiewicz is a better fielder, will hit more if he plays every day, and the Sox were less than thrilled with Millar's revelation of the pregame Jack Daniel's ritual during the playoffs.
OK, now are you ready for some football?
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.