Friday, February 27, 2009

Wishing Baldelli well

Hard for any fan of the game to root against Rocco Baldelli, even a staunch Yanks fan.

"It's tough," Baldelli said. "I don't know if there is a layman's way to describe it. It's almost impossible. My muscles get tired, but I prefer not to even say things like that because I don't want that to be the headline of the story. That's why I don't really get into it much. It's tough for me to explain to other people exactly what's going on."
I can't imagine what it must be like to be a world class athlete in peak condition to have trouble cranking the engine when needed. I hope he can make a full recovery and makes 80+ starts in right field.


In the same article, there's a comment about the "new" Sox clubhouse. Sox fans, your team's persona is on the same path as the Yanks: professional, corporate, vanilla. Just read this next comment and swap out "Baldelli" for "Jeter", "Sox" for "Yanks", "2004" for "1996", and "Jesus hairdos" for "former drug-addicted Mets":
Baldelli is polite, almost shy when dealing with the media. He'll deliver words and fill the sound bite for the 11 o'clock news, but strives to say as little as possible. This makes him a perfect fit for the 2009 Sox. Theo and his guys have assembled a group that is the polar opposite of the 2004 Idiots. No more wild and crazy quotes. No more Jesus hairdos or Jack Daniel's shots.
Not saying there is anything really wrong with that corporate, vanilla persona. We just have to recognize that once a team wins and eventually loses the key players of that team, the team will bring guys in who try to fit in rather than just be themselves and giving the team a new identity. It melds into something pretty santized.

The '04 Sox lost Manny, Pedro, Damon, Millar, Foulke, etc. Think of those personalities. Big personalities, lockerroom leaders. Sure, 'Tek and Papi are still there, intense as ever. Papelbon seems to be a bit of a wacko, and I mean that as a compliment. But JD Drew, Ellsbury, and Bay aren't exactly guys you think of as leaders. Pedroia seems to be a natural leader, but is he (and Lowell) the loose kinda guys in the lockerrooms like Damon, et al, were? I ask because I don't know the answer, not facetiously.

The "early dynasty" Yanks lost the same type of leaders: Wells, Cone, Paulie, Bernie, Jimmy Key. Sure, we filled them with other guys, some of which had larger than life personalities (Clemens, Giambi) while others were as vanilla as they come (Moose, Abreu, Matsui). And the team slowly conformed to Jeter's "give 'em only what they need to know/hear" personality. Santized, scrubbed, polished. And ARod and his personality is as obvious as they come. I heard someone say on XM MLB #175 today that it looks like ARod is acting like he is playing ARod in a movie about ARod. "Sincerity" is not a word I'll ever use to describe him. The truth is, if he was a pompous ass, crass and crude, people might have an easier time accepting him. At least we'd know he was honest with himself. I think this is what helped Giambi's "recovery" in the eyes of fans. [Not for nothing: I think adding Sabathia's clubhouse presence will do wonders for this team, who needs a boost of personality]

I still think the Sox are as feared an organization as there is in baseball, this year and for years to come. I think I have been more than fair in my thoughts on this team, no matter how much I want them to fail. My respect for Tito, Theo and so many of their personnel is tremendous. I think their off-season acquisitions were smart and calculated, even without Teix. But this team is no longer the Boston Dirt Dogs. They are now a corporate powerhouse. They are no longer the lovable losers; they have an image to uphold (and sell).

1 comment:

Osmodious said...

I think AJ Burnette has a bit o' that 'fire in the belly', too. Tex, on the other hand, seems like a graduate of the modern corporate ballplayer school.

You mentioned a couple of the 'dynasty' guys, but there were a lot of personalities on that team. Tino and O'Neill had enough fire for an entire team, and Jeter seemed to be more playful back then.

I said it a couple years back when they had that nice mid-year stretch with the 'Baby Bombers'...they play SO much better when they're having some fun out there. THAT's the spark that's been missing since '00 (aforementioned few week period notwithstanding).