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Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Damon’


2012 was a nightmare year for the Red Sox. They were mediocre until the Nick Punto Trade. After the trade that freed up all that money for the future, they were downright horrible.

2013 was in incredible surprise. I thought they would be good, but not World Series Champion good until about August. The hopes of Red Sox Nation were restored. The new model seemed to pay off: no long term contracts, overpay if you need to to do it.

Then came the off season. I will admit, I thought they would be better than they have been. But it seems that Ben over-played his hand. There was too much change. I saw recently that most World Series Champions experience about 20% roster change. The question is, what 20% should change. In 2004 they lost Pedro and Damon. Those were very big pieces to lose. In 2005 they were good but were quickly dumped from the playoffs from the eventual World Series Champion White Sox.

They seemed to learn the lesson. After the 2007 championship, they held on to Mike Lowell who was their primary free agent. It would be a mistake as his hips betrayed him. It nearly paid off as they got all the way to game 7 of the ALCS. All they needed was either a healthy Lowell or Beckett to return to the World Series.

After the victory in 2013 they had some difficult decisions to make as Ellsbury, Napoli, Drew and Saltalamacchia were free agents. All of them were key starters. They made reasonable attempts to retain Napoli and Drew. They made a feeble attempt to retain Ellsbury. Who knows, if they made a real offer during the exclusive negotiation period he might not have gone to the Yankees. I would not pay him what they paid him, but I certainly would have offered him more than they did. They decided to move on from Salty.

The reasons for both were the development of prospects at short (Bogaerts), center (Bradley) and catcher (Vazquez and Swihart). The result was that they had a new catcher to buy time for the prospects, an inexperienced left side of the infield in Middlebrooks and Bogaerts and an inexperienced centerfielder. They also took a gamble on a rebuilt Grady Sizemore who looked very promising in Spring Training but created a log jam in the outfield.

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While I was on vacation, my dad gifted me with Dan Shaughnessy’s book Reversing the Curse: Inside the History-Making Red Sox Championship Season.  It is one of the MANY books to be written about the 2004 World Series Champions.  This book was actually written as the season progressed, and like the movie Fever Pitch, had the good fortune to be completed with the Sox actually winning the Series for the first time since 1918.

Dan Shaughnessy is an interesting figure in Boston sports.  He grew up in New England (not to far from where I grew up) so he loves Boston sports teams.  The down side is that he is incredibly cynical about Boston sports.  He’s seemingly omnipresent, but his presence is not necessarily a welcome one.  To his credit, he seems to actually show up in the locker rooms to talk to guys rather than hiding in the safe confines of his office after a particularly acerbic piece.  As a result, he is not as endearing a figure to people like me as, say, Bob Ryan or Peter Gammons (why doesn’t he have a book on this????).

The book covers the series from the horrific end, for Sox fans, of the 2003 ALDS.  It covers what happened then and how that event set up the changes that took place in the off season.  After chapters on both of those, he goes month by month to cover the season’s ups and downs.  He uses a nearly conversational-style, often changing time frames which can be confusing.  But he also offers some quick biographical sketches of some of the key figures, like Johnny Damon, David Ortiz etc.

Being CHB, he does not gloss over the various dramas that did inflict the team that season- Nomar’s nearly eternal pout, Pedro’s Dominican Diva act while trying to negotiate via the press, Manny Being Disruptive etc.  He also includes some “insider” information, such as Nomar being informed of the “Trade We Rejoice Never Happened” (that would be Manny for A-Fraud) as it happened.  His public shock and dismay was a sham.

At times the book is burdened by Dan’s cynicism.  He can’t let “the bag job”, as he refers to the Henry-Werner group’s purchase of the team, go.  It is wearisome at times.  But this does not outweigh the many positives of the book.  Nor do the quotes of players using profanity (not a book for the kiddies, folks).

As the Sox rallied to defeat the Yankees I found myself crying all over again.  Who could know that when the Yankees didn’t put them away, the Sox would not just win 4 in a row, but 8.  Kevin Millar was spot on that night.

He also covered some of the more immediate changes that took place after winning the World Series.  I caused me to ponder- what if they had signed Orlando Caberra as I’d wanted.  No Rent-a-Wreck and the wasted 2005 season.  No overpaying Julio Lugo for his weak offense and mastery of committing errors.  The Sox would be well-positioned for Jed Lowry to take over the shortstop position.  Orlando provided steady, often spectacular defense, and enough offense.

Either way… this book is a must for the Red Sox fan.  He writes as one of us, but with more behind the scenes knowledge than one of us.  Even if you don’t like CHB, you’ll appreciate his book.  After all, it has a happy ending.

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