The assemblage of General Managers in beautiful Milwaukee for tea, crumpets, back kissing and baby smacking (wait, that should be reversed) means the off season has officially begun. New GM (but old hat) Ben Cherington arrived with more on his plate than the world famous Milwaukee reverse sandwich (a piece of bread between two pieces of meat).
For as short an off season as it's been, it's been a long off season. Red Sox nation has been treated to quite the list of fun, headlined by the never ending compensation negotiations, an epic stand off the likes of which combatants from the Peloponnesian War would have struggled to comprehend. Aside from the never ending nature of it all, the negotiations are a bit ridiculous. Having been wooed by and then joined the Cubs, Theo Epstein is forced by his own best interests to argue for his own worthlessness. Conversely, the Red Sox, the team that let him leave of their own volition, must maintain they can't live without him (or his equivalent in premiere minor league prospects). At some point the commissioner will probably have to step in because any incentive to actually negotiate has disappeared. Both sides are dug in like it's France in 1917 as Epstein has already begun work for the Cubs so they don't need to complete the transaction to receive his services, and the Red Sox have already named a replacement and don't require payment to move forward.
Then there's the always scintillating interviews for a new manager. Sure, there was an old guy with awesome hair, an iPad, and the most kick-ass pocket square you've ever seen, but that's the beginning and end of the news. After that we've had a parade of pocket squarelessness. Now, it looks like the leading candidate is a guy who used to spend his off days in Boston practicing by waiving blind people into oncoming traffic*. It should also be pointed out that during the time the Red Sox have spent searching, the Cardinals have created and then filled their managerial vacancy. Beyond that there is nothing to report.
*I completely understand the skill set required to be a successful third base coach is vastly different from that required to be a successful manager. Sveum may just be the very best guy for the job, and we'll all never know because we haven't sat in on multiple nine hour interviews. In Ben we trust.**
**Also, I'm sure Dale Sveum is a nice person and would never waive a blind person into oncoming traffic. Maybe the side of a bus, but that would only be by accident.
This past weekend finally brought exciting news, though it wasn't news that most of us wanted to hear. Jonathan Papelbon's shipping down to Philly (HA HA!) means a whole new hole on a team that already looked like a thing with way too many holes in it. Like, a piece of cheese, a lawn with a chipmunk problem, or my ego. It seems most everyone here at OTM including myself think the Phillies over paid and thus it was a wise decision to let Paps go (heck, many many people think the Phillies over paid) but that isn't likely to make us feel any better and (because?) it doesn't make the Red Sox any better on the field. In fact, we'd all probably agree it makes them actively worse.
It's always difficult around this time to remember the off season is a long one. Last year the Yankees didn't sign two fifths of their starting rotation until the very end of January. Each year after the Red Sox lose on Opening Day, and each year we all have to step back, take a deep breath, and remember there are 161 games left to go. We need to do that same exercise now. There are about 100 days until pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers and 139 days to go until Opening Day.
Sure, waiting for the interminable manager search to end and the ridiculous compensation talks to finally conclude could cause any self respecting Red Sox fan to lose serious amounts of body hair. But they will end. The Red Sox will find a manager and he'll probably be a good one, even if the blind community strenuously objects. The Cubs will, at some point, relent and give the Sox the vittles they require if, for no other reason, both teams will stop being asked about the stupid thing. The Red Sox will replace Paps, either with Daniel Bard or by acquiring one of the numerous closers available on the market at a fraction of #58's new contract.
What I'm saying is time is on our side here, people. When the team arrives in Florida in February to start it up again, they'll have a whole roster. Starting pitchers and everything. They'll all be ready to erase the sting of the 2011 season's end and so will we. 2012 is going to be great simply by virtue of it not being 2011. It'll all come together. Until then we just have to wait.