I'm finally sorting through a mountain of mail while wondering whatever happened to Karl Malone …
Paula: I let a few days pass before sending this in the hope of tempering my remarks. Were you on something when you penned this (It's official: umps and refs getting in the way, June 3)? To lump Jim Joyce in with Tim Donaghy is beyond my understanding. One is a convicted (I think) criminal - the other an umpire who obviously followed his conscience, made what he perceived to be the right call, and committed an error. …I'll be 67 on Wednesday and have followed the Red Sox since I was 7 or 8. Usually I enjoy reading you, but this was absurd. Just to satisfy my curiosity, have you had any second thoughts?
TM: In all honesty, no. However, you were not the only person to make this criticism of the column, which means I did a poor job expressing my thoughts on the bigger picture. The idea was not to equate Joyce with Donaghy. The idea was to point out that, for a number of reasons, officiating seems to have deteriorated over the last couple of years, to the point where we have had some very high-profiled missteps by officials in all sports. There are obviously degrees of these transgressions, but it seems to me that fans now have the right and capacity to second-guess officials like never before.
Joyce obviously made an honest mistake. I was not suggesting he is corrupt. His mistake obviously does not put him in the same class as Donaghy. Nonetheless, it was a blown call. Thanks for the note!
Donald: In your column "Public trust has officially been lost," I would have understood you calling for an overturn of Jim Joyce's call or an increase in video replay. You instead chose to question the integrity of Jim Joyce and mention him in the same article as Tim Donaghy, which I find reprehensible. How an honest mistake compares to a dishonest career is something I fail to see. Using your logic, all fielding errors or failures to hit in scoring position also undermine the public trust in the players. … Maybe what we are really experiencing is an eroding public trust in sports columnists.
TM: Donald, I’d be hard pressed to argue your final point. Again, I wasn’t trying to equate Joyce with Donaghy. I do believe that some people saw both names in the same column and jumped to that conclusion, but nowhere did I suggest that the two were even remotely comparable. Still, given that many readers made this connection indicates a flaw in the manner my opinions were express. That’s poor writing. Thanks for the note.
Mike: It is a mystery to me that most really bad calls are clearly visible on replay within 5-10 seconds of the occurrence and yet there is no means to change the calls and make them right. It is one thing when a call is disputable on replay - it is another when millions of people know a bad call was made long before play resumes. Why not have a official in the booth watching the TV?
TM: In baseball, at least, this very solution has been proposed by none other than Red Sox manager Terry Francona – and it makes perfect sense to me. There are obvious things to consider – delays in play, additional costs for officiating, uniformity of television coverage in lesser markets – but I generally couldn’t agree more. Nobody wants games to be bogged down by replay. But there has to be a better way.
John: I'm on lunch and thought I would take a few minutes to commend you on your column today (about the deteriorating performance of officials). It is simple, accurate and brilliant. … Oversight authorities are, essentially, now paid to cover up public corruption and crime. …The Justice Department and the FBI has learned that crime pays and it pays big.
TM: Uh-oh. Can’t be a good sign if I’m getting support from the conspiracy theorists. Nonetheless, at a moment like this, I’ll take any reinforcement I can get. Thanks for the note.
John: You're dead wrong on the Ellsbury column (Central issue concerns his desire to play, May 28). If you had ever broken ribs yourself, you would understand the amount of pain -- unimaginable, persistent and long-term pain -- involved. And every attempt to "play through" that pain only makes the condition worse. Having been through this injury myself, I speak from experience. Every time I tried to "play through the pain," the condition only became worse, and the recovery time longer.
Way off the mark on this one. You are challenging his desire and reputation by way of a mistaken premise. The column constitutes an unnecessary, ill-informed attack on this player.
TM: On this column, too, you are not the only voice to express dissatisfaction. To me, the issue with Ellsbury does not concern this particular injury so much as it does the gap between the team and player with regard to his history in the minors and, to a degree, the majors. That is what compounded this matter and rests at the core of the issue. No one ever suggested he was faking it, but again, any absence of clarity is entirely my fault. Nobody else sat at the keyboard while I was writing. Thanks for the note.
Robert: I just read your story and the arguments that you make for Hanley (Ramirez) to come here are acceptable to me (If it's not one Ramirez, it's another, May 21). After the carnival of fantasy game shortstops that Theo and the James boys have over paid for the past few years, it would great to finally have some legitimate strength up the middle. Even if his defense turns into Julio Lugo or Marco "I have no range" Scutaro or Jed "I’m a nice guy, but I’m injury prone Lowrie," he can play the outfield.
TM: We all love Hanley’s talent, Robert, but let me make my feelings clear with regard to the idea of bringing him back: I don’t have to deal with him daily and neither do you. Hanley sounds like a diva of the highest order – call it immaturity or whatever you want – and that can make life very difficult for a manager and teammates. Nonetheless, the Red Sox won with Manny Ramirez here, largely because they had good veteran leadership in the manager’s office and clubhouse.
That said, I don’t think Hanley is leaving Florida anytime soon. And before you blame Theo for all of the misdeeds at shortstop, remember that Ramirez was traded away during Theo’s resignation. I am among those who strongly believe Epstein never would have dealt young Hanley, which certainly raises questions about whether he (and the Sox) would have won the 2007 World Series.
Paul: When I first heard about Hanley's recent antics I wondered if he was trying to "Hanley being Hanley" his way off the Marlins. Your article on Saturday doesn't mention that directly as a possibility, but I have to think he might rather be showing off his talent in NY, Philly, LA or - dare I say - Boston!? Manny's shooting himself out of town does seems very much like what is going on in south Florida now with his fellow Ramirez. I watched Hanley play when he was a Sea Dog and his talent stood out as special. It is a shame to see some of his talent wasted to his immaturity.
TM: Your theory is a distinct possibility, but Hanley strikes me as far less contrived than his more accomplished namesake. By the end of Manny’s time in Boston, he clearly wanted out. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Manny receives upon returning to Fenway Park later this month, a return that will receive a considerable share of hype. Bet on it – and thanks for the note!
Jamie: So, the Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants in 2007 wasn't as heartbreaking as those five (Tony's Top 5 most heartbreaking moments in Boston sports history)? And Game 7 in 2003 against the Yankees? That challenges Buckner … but, wow!
TM: Would you believe me if I told you that, in compiling that list, I simply forgot about Super Bowl XLII? Clearly, this was some sort of defense mechanism resulting from the trauma – akin of to post-traumatic stress disorder, perhaps. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. I’m a dope.
Bedwards1216: I really think Brady gets a kick out of watching media clowns like Mazz and (Albert) Breer froth over non-stories, mild speculation from third party sources, and rumor-mill blatherings. … As always, Mazz never fails to provide at least one "what the heck is he talking about?" moment … starting with this comment: "the greater issue here may concern the posturing that is taking place between the Patriots and Camp Brady." (In negotiations, will Brady rule?, June 7). Wait … who is posturing? The only story to have come out at all is the one by (Michael) Silver which essentially said nothing, but the media in Boston seem to think that nothing is a huge deal. I've seen no evidence of any "posturing" from either side, and neither have you, Mazz. But now that there continues to be the insistence of posturing by the media, it will continue to be written that there is. It's self-created melodrama and I'm so tired of it. We don't know what's going on, so we're going to toss in some speculation so we'll have something to write about, by George!
TM: OK, so call me a cynic. (You’d be right.) But those of us who have reported on and covered sports in Boston for any length of time know that what is said publicly and what is said privately are two very different things. Brady had a chance to shoot down speculation and he glossed over it. In fact, he acknowledged a "situation" with the Patriots. The good news is that, shortly after this column was written, Colts president Bill Polian cited labor uncertainty as the reasons that Peyton Manning, Robert Mathis and Reggie Wayne remain unsigned, too. Nonetheless, Brady took a hometown discount in his last negotiations and the Patriots rewarded him with a 2006 season in which he operated without a real receiving corps. If I’m Brady, they have something to prove to me this time.
Wildmeff: How about you chill out Tony, watch the Finals and write this column (For this group, is it truly The Finals?, June 2 -- on the impending reconstruction of the Celtics) two weeks after it. They're still playing basketball.
TM: My only objective here was to emphasize how important these Finals are to the Celtics given their age and roster issues. Nothing more. From this point forward, the skills of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen are going to continue deteriorating. That is a fact. All professional sports are usually dominated by players in their 20s and early 30s. Nobody is rooting for the Celtics to fail or dwelling on the negative. What Danny Ainge does with this roster during the offseason will be rather interesting. Thanks for the note!
RickDesper: One suspects that Mazz spent his honeymoon reciting divorce statistics.
TM: Nice try, but you couldn’t be more wrong. However, my wife did.
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