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Dear John: Red Sox need plan, leadership

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  July 26, 2012 03:55 PM

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Dear John:

We know you care.

And things aren't looking good. At best, your baseball team will be .500 at the 100-game mark following Friday's 2012 debut at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox are now 12-24 in games featuring Josh Beckett and Jon Lester this season. Your opening day starter has a 10.42 ERA in July. It will have been 31 days since the Red Sox won a game that Lester has started when he takes mound Saturday in the Bronx. That $142 million left-fielder you didn't want can't play after the seventh inning because he's a defensive liability.

Summer Olympics opening ceremony or Red Sox vs. Yankees? That used to be a no-brainer in these parts. Now, the "Battle of the Clicker" is 6-5 against Don and Jerry for the next two weeks. And there's now an endless video stream of Patriots' practice footage and Bill Belichick press conference loquaciousness for anyone with internet access. The Pats drew 12,163 for Thursday's workout. The Red Sox would call that a sellout.

If you're looking for advice as to what your team should do - take a look at what appeared in this space two weeks ago during the All-Star Break:

The big question is whether or not general manager Ben Cherington should buy or sell at the trade deadline. Here's my advice:

Nothing's changed since - except the team is now one game under .500.

Quick question: Which loss hurt more Wednesday night - the one in Arlington or the one in Boston? While 37,169 soccer-hungry fans turned out at Fenway Park, your baseball consumers are not happy. The good news is that you can add Liverpool's 2-1 loss to the Fenway full-house streak. As you reveled in your varsity Reds, we hope you did not make the leap to believe that is well across the rest of Red Sox Nation because you were able pack the house for an international friendly featuring your favorite subsidiary.

Red Sox fans are not Liverpool FC fans and vice versa. Sure, there's some crossover, but fans who have a favorite team in the Premier league probably picked it long before you bought Anfield. Red Sox fans will never want anything to do with LeBron James. We pick our NASCAR drivers based on whether or not they're Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart or Jimmie Johnson - not whether or not they drive for Roush-Fenway Racing.

The narrative of this team has not changed since last September. Overpaid, underachieving and not caring. When it comes to the Red Sox in 2012, the passion is absent on the field (except when Cody Ross hits a walkoff home run) and fading in the stands and in front of the TV set. The Politburo and State Run Media consistently implore fans to "Keep The Faith." Anyone who looks at the standings or the box scores and deals in reality is chastised as a defeatist by any player with a Twitter handle. Well, it's time have some faith in us - the fans who buried parents and grandparents that never saw a World Series title - and our children. Trust your customers. We're not eight years old - even though I write like it at times.

Here's a look at your highest-paid player's preparation for this weekend's probably-too-late-to-call-it "Do-or-Die Series" against the Yankees:

The on-field contagion of apathy and arrogance has even filtered down to the rookies.

No mention of batting practice.

This must change. Allow your GM and his baseball people to make deals - either now or after the season - to create a team that will contend over the long-haul. Don't insult fans with quick fixes. Just say "no" to the Monster.

The second wildcard remains the opiate of the baseball masses, along with "Sweet Caroline." The Red Sox would have to leap frog six other teams - a nearly impossible task since those other teams will be facing each other time and time again down the stretch - to earn that one-game playoff against the Angels, A's, White Sox or Tigers. Win that one, and you get Texas and then the Yankees. In case you missed it, your baseball operation lost two of three to the double-defending American League champs this week. Beckett pitched just well enough to fail in Arlington Wednesday. Don't mess with Bexas!

You've said "Larry Lucchino runs the Red Sox." That's the problem. He allowed/forced the previous GM bloat the payroll with chronic underachievers (J.D. Drew, John Lackey, Julio Lugo), unproven talent (Dice-K) or above-average players not ready for the big stage (@adriangon28), Carl Crawford). The Beckett trade (Ben's work) helped bring another ring but the Texas Fluff Guy has overstayed his welcome and effectiveness. Now, CYA Larry says his general manager is "empowered" to make any deal he wants. Please make sure that happens. Larry has been the constant through all this and at various times thrown Theo, Tito, Bobby and Ben under the bus. Only Carmine and inexplicably Bill James remain unscathed.

The lack of leadership is the real "Monster" here. The players don't listen to the manager, who wasn't the GM's first choice. The manager can't connect with the players, never mind his coaching staff. Do you think your pals at Patriot Place or on Causeway Street would put up with this for two seconds?

It starts from the top and that's you. You are the boss. Step in. Take charge. Lead. Take your mind off the (soccer) ball for 10 minutes and right this slowly-sinking ship. Get your baseball people and your marketing people together and give them a little "Robert DeNiro Untouchables" pep talk - smashing the bat a few times on the table a few times would be sufficient. Demand a plan to build a baseball winner and make it clear that you will do whatever it takes within your budget to accomplish it. Your baseball team has been trending downhill since Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS in St. Petersburg. You've used our money to deliver Boston two World Championships. You're certainly capable doing it again, given the resources you've allocated to the Red Sox subsidiary of your sports empire.

We know you have a lot on your mind - auto racing, LeBron, NESN, the Joe Allen situation, all those renovations at Anfeld. Congratulations to your and your wife on the upcoming birth of your second child together. One can only imagine the challenge of having a child who will be finishing high school as you enter your 80s, but surely you'll be up to the task.

But now, it's your baseball team that needs to be changed, fed and burped.

All the best.


As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

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