"It’s tough to deal with it, but it’s a game," he said. "Playing in Boston can take a toll on you.* But we’ve got to find a way tomorrow." [Clay Buchholz, last night after their 4-1 loss to the Mariners]
Is it just me, or do they not make players the way they used to?**
I am getting sick and tired of hearing one player after another degrade this city and its fan base, which is exactly what comments like this do. Oh, it's so tough to play in Boston. Everyone expects so much. The fans really get on you. I'm not batting in the spot that optimizes my performance. I've been victimized by the press as some sort of horn-wearing devil. We're held accountable for our performance. We get booed when we outright suck for months on end.
You know what fans in Boston expect? They expect intelligent, hard play and they expect results. With only 2 championships over the past 94 seasons, we certainly don't expect a championship every year, but we do expect you to play your heart out and leave your best game on the field. We expect you to carry the torch of former Red Sox greats - Williams, Yaz, Lynn, Pudge, Dewey, Pedro - even if you can't match their on-field production. We expect you to man-up and accept responsibility for your actions and performance.
But, what we've gotten too much of the past few seasons are complaints and whining (the result of soft character and entitlement). Players not accepting responsibility for their actions and lack of performance. That's why Beckett got shipped out of town. That's why from Day 1 Crawford never fit in here. That's why I'm fine with A-Gon being Gon-Gon. The weak and the whiny are being cut loose. Let them play for teams that cannot sell out games during a pennant race. We don't need and shouldn't want them in Boston. We need real ballplayers here. I hate to be cliche by throwing out the 2004 team, but they had real ballplayers - Millar, Nixon, Pedro, Schilling, Mueller, Bellhorn, Tek, Wakefield, etc. Were each of them the most talented players at their position? No. Were they real ballplayers? Yeah. Sort of reminds me of the Texas and Tampa teams now.
Can fans in Boston unfairly victimize some players? Absolutely. Happens in every city that cares passionately about its sports teams. Bill Buckner comes to mind. And, there were others. Some deserved it (especially after they left town) - Clemens, Damon, Ramirez (to an extent). Is it tough to play in Boston? Probably. It can be tough just to live in Boston. But, if you play the right way and give the game your all, fans will respect you and grow to love you (especially if you do end up winning a championship). At that point, the only way you can alienate fans is to go play for our most-hated enemy (right, Clemens/Damon/Ray Allen?). These modern players make it seem like Boston's the worst place to play in the world. But, go listen to Schilling and Tek and Lowell and Millar and others, and you'll hear them say over and over again that Boston is the greatest place to play, with the greatest fans. A place steeped in history and fans bathed in passion.
If you can't live up to that, then go play for San Diego or Houston or Toronto or somewhere else with fair-weather fans, little passion, and no expectations.
*Was Buchholz perhaps "misquoted?" Was this simply a throwaway line that has little to do with his true feelings? Perhaps. But, we've heard so much of this kind of talk lately that it seems the clubhouse is permeated with these feelings.
**As for my earlier line: They do make players the way they used to. We just don't have enough of those players in Boston. Texas has those players. Oakland and New York and Chicago (AL) have those players. Heck, Seattle has those players right now.
By the way, we do have some of those "right kind of guys" in Boston: Pedroia, Ross, Ortiz (he only complains about compensation and the media; he never complains about pressure). I'd like to think Middlebrooks is in this group. Tek and Wakefield just retired, and they were the right kind of guys. I love Lester, but even he seems to be going the opposite direction this year.
If I'm Cherington, I'm looking for a certain type of guy to fill this clubhouse. He may not be the best or the most talented, but he's the right kind of player.