Boston Suffers from an Identity Crisis
Everyone knew (free agency) was affecting our club, but we didn’t talk much about it. The thing was, the fun had gone out of the game, not only that year but in the following seasons as well. Baseball went from a team orientation toward an individual orientation. Instead, new guys were coming in and the old guys were leaving. It wasn’t that they were retiring. They were having contract problems or they were unhappy over the way they were being used, and these things would linger.
Carl Yastrzemski on the 1976 season
Yaz - Baseball, The Wall and Me
I can remember, specifically in my last job, finding out the salary of someone I worked with, on my team, and hearing about the raise someone else got. In both instances I was shocked, in some ways, floored. Neither of these two co-workers were worth that salary and that raise.
It made me want to quit. It made me want to mail my days in. If those two can get paid and rewarded for the little they do around here then what am I busting my hump for?
Four months ago, the Boston Red Sox signed Carl Crawford to a seven-year $142 million salary package. He’s the first player in Red Sox history to have a contract worth more than $20 million annually. Funny thing, he had yet to wear a Red Sox uniform. A week prior to Crawford, the Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez and all reports suggest Boston will eventually offer him a lucrative multiyear deal. Again, at the time, had yet to wear a Red Sox uniform.
I’m Kevin Youkilis. Or David Ortiz. Maybe Dustin Pedroia. For sure long-time catcher and captain Jason Varitek. It doesn’t matter if you work in the cubicle mill or get paid millions to play a kids game when millions is never enough. When management starts bringing in new players, signed to more money a year than some of these guy’s entire contracts, it does something to their psyche.
What am I chopped liver? I’ve given my career for this ball club and they bring in this guy? Sure on paper he’s going to give our team the spark that we need. Spark? What spark? We didn’t need a spark, we were doing just fine.
Sure, we’ll welcome them and play together and I’ll do my best. I don’t want to strike out or get shelled in the bottom of the second. But you know, I’m a little teed off. Am I not worth as much as him? If not, then trade me; I’ll play for some one else!
Big money can bruise big egos.
Which leads me to the conclusion that perhaps the 0-4 Boston Red Sox are suffering from a little identity crisis. (Or at least petty jealously. OK, maybe not petty, we are talking about millions of dollars here.) There’s still time sure. But now that oil is heading towards $110 a barrel (and is taking you by shock right now reading this because you had no idea) and is no longer news and the Boston (is-this-a) massacre is on the front page, the pressure for this team is going to become immense.
Manager Terry Francona has a lot on his hands right now. Much more than the injury riddled team he had last year that almost made the playoffs. Francona needs to give this team an identity. The 2004 curse busting team called themselves a bunch of idiots. Funny? Sure. Stupid? Maybe. But they had an identity and played together as a team. Much like the teams Yaz played on and fondly remembered in his book.
The 2011 team needs an ID. At the very least a counseling session.
When I came up, you’d join fellows you had played with in the minors. You grew up together, came up through the ranks with them. In spring training you’d have forty guys you were pretty sure would still be in the organization when the season ended. You got to know them. There was informality to life in baseball just a few years before. All I knew was that on our team, it had taken years for us to get a good attitude in the clubhouse and now it was changed again drastically. It went from twenty-five guys traveling together, and seeing one another’s families to wives arguing over whose husband should be earning more money once all the salaries became public.
Yaz – Baseball, The Wall and Me