Let’s start with the obvious: John Farrell’s job is almost perfectly safe. The Red Sox have lost two games in a row, but they’re in first place by 3.5 games and are playing as well as they have all season. There is no world in which talk of firing Farrell makes sense.
This makes me very, very happy. I’ve never wanted Farrell to be fired — the whole point of this column was to hammer that point home because, despite some early-season stumbles, the team has always been headed to this point, and the calls for the manager’s head based on cherry-picked grievances has always been silly and wrong. If Farrell’s critics can disguise transparent, self-serving hot takes as analysis, I thought, why couldn't I do the opposite? I chose an inflammatory headline — the ridiculous “Index” — to cloak what I hope has been sober analysis in hot-take sauce and see what would happen. Unsurprisingly, the internet happened, though as it turns out, I am part of that very same internet.
Until this year I have read the comments sparingly and carefully in my five years at Over the Monster, to the point of rarely reading them at all. Perhaps the majority of readers don’t understand the type of operation this is, but we’re all part-time employees-at-best and drones-at-worst who do this for fun, and the comments can be a shitty place when readers either do not know or do not care that we don’t consider ourselves to be the last word on anything Red Sox. We do this because we like the team and like talking about them and the more we do it, in theory, the better we will get. That has limits, though, and I realized this season that I couldn’t get better unless I actually took the dive into the swamp and saw what people were saying.
It’s not always pretty, nor is it always ugly, but the ugliness stands out for its rank smarm. The most recent Fire Farrell Index, two weeks ago, drew some ire for ostensibly being overly critical of a single bad Farrell decision in an otherwise good week. Anyone who bothered reading to the end would have seen that the analysis of Boston’s bullpen meltdown against the Royals that week was isolated from a broader grade of Farrell’s performance, which I said had improved throughout the week. This dovetails with the whole idea of this column: To fairly analyze small moments in detail without jumping to broad conclusions about them. Some people only saw the bad parts, and, while I can live with that, I wish they’d step back and see it in the context of what I’m trying to do. If I’ve done a bad job of that, it’s my fault.
But at some point I’m off the hook, right? Like the guy who began a long, overwrought, pedantic screed about how he didn’t read my columns anymore but — somehow — had about 500 words of criticism for them, and me, and my relationship to the Red Sox? Fuck outta here. I won’t link to the comment (you can easily find it), but as I told him, if he cared that much he ought to just write for OTM, and that goes for you, too, whoever and wherever you are. We’re not your enemies, friends. We’re more like your neighbors. Screaming at each other over imagined grievances is only going to make it worse for all of us. Especially when you boast, up front, that you have no idea what you’re actually aggrieved about. That’s a tell.
With that said, all is forgiven, and not just because the Red Sox are in first place, though that’s a big part of it. It just turns out I can be a shithead too.
Virtually all of you are likely familiar with CSN NE and Barstool Sports’ Jared Carrabis, a self-made reporter/fanalyst/hustler (in the best sense) whose gold-bottle dedication to the Sox is beyond reproach. I had been cherry-picking some of his tweets to earn sweet, sweet, online validation for reasons I can’t fully explain, other than professional jealousy and the fact I think he shouldn’t call Pablo Sandoval a “fat piece of shit.” I used the fact that he has done so, repeatedly, to paint a broader criticism of him that didn’t pass the smell test. This despite the fact we used to tweet at each other years ago and had generally been friendly online which, whatever, but I strayed too close to the sun and got properly burned.
This is where it went wrong:
Which is very limited in some cases https://t.co/5SFVSS5QFA— Bryan Joiner (@bryanjoiner) June 22, 2017
If it’s not clear, I was passive-aggressively calling him out here for his analysis of another report, implying his criticism was empty, and for no good reason whatsoever. First off: The chances I know more about the Sox than him, which I implied, are zero. Secondly, and even worse: I didn't read the article. I became what I hated. When he clapped back, I stammered and flailed and, a little later, realized I had been a dumb jerk online. I had no excuse and, naturally, when I actually read one of his subsequent pieces, I found it really quite good, and said as much, which led to the perfect response:
July 1, 2017
I deserved it. The Sandoval stuff still bothers me, but so do Farrell’s occasional bullpen lapses and my own breaches of etiquette, but (hopefully) in none of the cases is there enough paint to use a wide brush. Having tried and failed, it’s easy to see how the comments operate the way they do. It just takes one dude on a bad day. (And yes, it’s always a dude). I’ve been that guy and will be again, even if it’s a bad look. And it’s really bad. I just understand how it happens.
So to Jared, I’m sorry. To my haters: You’re forgiven. I hope the feeling is mutual, but if the feeling isn’t mutual, just know that, as a father of a new son, there’s even more of me to hate now. Just try to be fair, y’know? Speaking of which, to be fair to Farrell, he enters the All-Star break at a nearly perfectly safe 1.5 out of 11 Danger Points. If he’s made some major mistakes along the way, he, too, is forgiven. I just don’t think he has, but if he is making errors... well, with the way Boston’s going, I hope they continue all the way through October, and only end with more gold-bottle popping.