But as it was addressed a few weeks ago, the Yankees aren’t cold hearted at all. They are a bunch of softees.
Conversely, the Red Sox often act cooly and without sentimentality.
Mike Lowell is the latest Red Sox hero that is being told not to let the door hit his ass on the way out.
But when Mike gets dumped, he shouldn’t feel too bad.
Just in my lifetime of watching baseball, the Red Sox have been able to fill a 25 man roster with all of the quality players who left the franchise in a huff and with a bad taste in their mouth.
And this is Sully Baseball where strange lists are not just pondered… they are written.
I created a 25 man roster with a starting line up, a rotation, a bullpen, a bench and for good measure a manager, two coaches and a GM all of whom ended their Red Sox tenure with the attitude of “F— them! I’ll prove them wrong!”
And my self imposed rule is they have to have been Red Sox in the era that I remember (1977 on.) I’m not including the Babe and all of the other players the Sox cast off in years past. But I had no problem making a roster with that stipulation.
And it is a roster filled with legends, Hall of Famers, beloved New Englanders, Cy Young Winners, MVPs and some of the biggest heroes of 2004.
Don’t believe me… read on.
The Starting Line Up
C– Carlton Fisk
New England’s favorite son clashed with GM Haywood Sullivan over money. The Sox front office mailed his contract a day late, making him a free agent and he wound up being a free agent and spending more years in Chicago instead of Boston.
1B – Doug Mientkiewicz
Only us insane Red Sox fans could turn the guy who caught the final out in the World Series we’ve been waiting our whole lives for into a bad guy! He caught the ball tossed to him by Foulke and decided to keep it… and who could blame Mientkiewicz? Red Sox management could! They unbelievably got into a lawsuit that needed to be mediated. They dealt him to the Mets and believe it or not he became a villain to some Sox fans!
2B – Mark Bellhorn
One of the big post season heroes of 2004 had a slow 2005… and was cut late in the season. He went on to finish the season (and play in the Division Series) as a member of the Yankees… the same team who helped sink with a pair of ALCS homers in ’04.
SS – Nomar Garciaparra
The man who was shaping up to be one of the great legends in Red Sox history was involved in an aborted trade to the White Sox in the 2003 off season. His 2003 was filled with injuries and sulking and was shipped to Chicago, this time the Cubs. The trade of the beloved No-Mah was considered to be the turning point of 2004.
3B – Wade Boggs
After 11 seasons in Boston where he hit .338 over all and won 5 batting titles and collected 2,098, the future Hall of Famer was nontendered after a subpar 1992. He responded by joining the Yankees, rediscovering his stroke and Gold Glove ability and winning his lone World Series title. Despite all of the great moments in Boston, Boggs won his ring (and rode a horse) in the Bronx and got his 3,000 hit in Tampa.
LF – Manny Ramirez
Manny being Manny imploded in 2008. He went from World Series hero and beloved cult figure to pariah in 9 months. Pushing an old guy to the ground will do that to you. Who knows what his response will be like if and when he returns to Fenway? It certainly won’t sound like the fans are responding to the guy who won the MVP for the Curse breaking World Series.
CF – Johnny Damon
The personification of the long haired free spirited idiots who slayed the curse, Johnny spoke in his book about his loyalty to Boston and how he would never play for the Yankees… and then he signed with the Yankees. The Sox wouldn’t give 5 years to him, thinking he wouldn’t be able to keep playing center field. Later he was quoted saying about being a Yankee “Now I’m in a place that actually wants me.” Ouch.
RF – Dwight Evans
One of the great Red Sox of all time, Evans was the only player who played in the post season for the Sox in 1975, 1986, 1988 and 1990. And 8 time Gold Glover, he was the only AL hitter to get 20 or more homers each year of the 1980s. So naturally after 19 seasons he was released to make room for Jack Clark. Evans finished his career as a part time DH for Baltimore.
DH – Mo Vaughn
Another beloved native New Englander, Vaughn clashed with the front office. I guess Dan Duquette and company had a hard time with a popular MVP who did charity and helped heal the racial tensions of the organization. It became so toxic that his free agent defection was expected even before the 1998 playoffs. He went to the Angels and was never the same.
Dan Duquette was an undeniably talented GM, but man alive did he love to pick fights with top players. And he clashed with Clemens throughout the very public contract squabble with Roger Clemens. On one hand Clemens was 33, which is right around the time pitchers start to decline. On the other hand he was tied for the all time win total in Red Sox history with Cy Young and won 3 awards named after Young… and oh yeah led the league in strikeouts in 1996. Clemens left for Toronto and Duquette said he was in the twilight of his career. Clemens responded with back to back Cy Young seasons and two more later, becoming more identified with the Yankees. Now how Clemens injected his motivation is under investigation… but the greatest pitcher in Red Sox history was always welcomed back with a chorus of boos.
The most exciting pitcher in Red Sox history helped turn the franchise around after Clemens’ departure. He won 2 Cy Youngs (and could have won 2 more) but his diva act started wearing out its welcome. And by the time he won Game 3 of the 2004 World Series, it was assumed it was his last game in a Red Sox uniform. The Red Sox offered 2 years and the Mets offered 4, so off to New York he went. At first it looked dreadful as Pedro kept up his Cy Young stuff his first year in Queens and the Red Sox missed the Division Title by a single game… but in the end letting Pedro go allowed the Sox to get Josh Beckett. Pedro did receive a nice hand when he returned to Boston years later.
The postseason ace in 1986 gave the Red Sox two #1 starters (along with Clemens) when they won the 1988 “Morgan’s Magic” Division Title. But GM Lou Gorman got cheap all of a sudden after the 1988 ALCS and Hurst left the Sox for the Padres. They could have used that second ace in the 1990 playoffs.
As if 1978 couldn’t get more painful for Red Sox fans in the wake of Bucky F—ing Dent. In the off season, the beloved Lou-Eee defected to the Yankees as a free agent and did a series of hot dog commercials where he said “It’s good to be with a Weiner!” Ouch.
Fergie didn’t have the best seasons in his Hall of Fame career in Boston. But he was in Don Zimmer’s doghouse and was sent back to Texas for John Poloni… he of 2 career big league games. Poloni never played a game in Boston while Jenkins went 18-8 in Texas in 1978. Gee, I wonder if the Sox could have used him when they lost the Division in the Bucky Dent game!
Foulke, the single most underrated hero from the 2004 title, literally risked his career throwing 14 innings (and throwing 257 pitches) that October and letting up 1 earned run in the process. By 2005 his arm was shot as was his effectiveness. Fans started booing him and he called Red Sox fans “Johnny from Burger King.” His time in Boston ended on a sour note as he was an ineffective mop up man with a terrible relationship with the fans and the media… all less than 2 years removed from delivering the highlight we’ve been waiting our whole lives for: A World Series title.
Smith was still one of the top closers in the game and helped lead the Sox to the 1988 Division Title when the Sox signed Jeff Reardon. Why did they need 2 closers? Smith was dealt for Tom Brunansky, but rumors started whirling that Smith was a troublemaker. Funny. He was never a troublemaker in Chicago. Nor later in his career in St. Louis, Baltimore or California… just in the Yawkey run Red Sox… innnteresting.
Sure it’s a stretch putting Lee in the bullpen, but he actually did start his Sox career as a reliever. His clashes with management and that moron Don Zimmer were legendary and can be summed up in the brilliant film Spaceman- A Baseball Odyssey featuring your pal Sully. He was benched down the stretch in 1978 and was dumped to Montreal for Stan Papi. Papi never got off of the bench. Lee won 17 for Montreal in 1979.
Embree pitched well in the 2004 post season and got the pennant clinching out in Yankee Stadium. A year later, he was cut in midseason upsetting his bullpen mates. Embree wound up a member of the 2005 Yankees and seemed to take great glee in clinching the Division in Fenway.
Yet another one of the Buffalo Heads that Don Zimmer wanted off of the team because… um… he didn’t like them. The Red Sox got exactly zero players from the White Sox for Willoughby and then had a worn out bullpen by September.
Reserve Infielder – Jose Offerman
It’s hard to remember that Jose Offerman was once an All Star as a member of the Red Sox. Well he was in 1999. And by 2002 he was considered a cancer in the clubhouse and was cut in August. They cut him AFTER they finished a West Coast swing. Offerman lived on the West Coast and the team flew him all the way back East to give him his walking papers, which led to a profanity laced, equipment throwing tirade. Years later as a member of the Bridgeport Bluefish, he went after another player with a bat. Classy guy.
Reserve Infielder – Orlando Cabrera
Cabrera came over in the Nomar trade, gave the Red Sox stellar defense, got clutch post season hits, helped deliver a title to Boston and fit in perfectly with the Boston clubhouse. So naturally the Sox let him go. There were rumors of Cabrera doing inappropriate things and making management mad. Either way Cabrera left and played in the post season with the Angels, White Sox and Twins while the Red Sox have put 19 different guys at shortstop since.
Reserve Outfielder – Steve Lyons
Lyons was hardly a top prospect for the Red Sox, but he was one of the few rookies on the 1986 Red Sox squad. He also was John McNamara’s whipping boy. Whenever Johnny Mac woke up, he’d chew out Lyons and not raise his voice to any of the veterans. Lyons was shipped off for Tom Seaver.
Reserve Outfielder – Bernie Carbo
The most famous pinch hitter in Red Sox history had 15 homers and an OPS of .931 as a part time player in 1977. But he was part of the Buffalo Heads and Don Zimmer is an idiot so he was shipped off to Cleveland for NO PLAYERS. So if you are keeping track, in the end the Sox dealt Fergie Jenkins, Bill Lee, Bernie Carbo and Jim Willoughby in exchange for Stan Papi and Jon Poloni.
Reserve Catcher – Rich Gedman
Yet another native New Englander got the shaft from the front office. He was an All Star in 1986 and got some key post season hits. Yet was a victim of collusion and his career was never the same after the 1986 off season. Was unceremoniously dumped early in the 1990 season.
Reserve Catcher – Doug Mirabelli
It’s tough to put Mirabelli on here seeing how the Red Sox kept him employed for many years longer than any other team would… mainly because he could actually catch a knuckleball. That lone talent had him start Game 1 of the 2004 World Series and get a pair of World Series rings. The Sox decided to go with Kevin Cash instead of Dougie. No argument there, but why couldn’t they make that decision BEFORE spring training 2008 where Doug was cut. He accepted his 2007 World Series ring on opening day but he wouldn’t wear his uniform.
The Coaching Staff
Manager – Kevin Kennedy
Kennedy managed the Sox to a surprising division title in 1995. In 1996, a series of ill conceived deals gave Kennedy about 10 DHs and a decrepit bullpen. Kennedy turned the 1996 season around after a bad start and contended until the last weekend. But he clashed with Dan Duquette (see a pattern here?) Kennedy was dumped and has been a mainstay in the broadcast booth (and my XM Radio listening) ever since.
Coach – Tommy Harper
The Elk’s Club of Winter Haven Florida invited some of the Red Sox team and management to an event. Tommy Harper wasn’t invited. Why? It was a white only establishment. Tommy Harper complained to the media. So what did the Yawkey run Red Sox do? They fired Harper! Of course… because he was uppity. He sued and won an anti discrimination case. This wasn’t in the distant past. This was 1985. Ahhh the Yawkey legacy.
Coach – Joe Kerrigan
Yes I know technically he was the manager of the team… but was he really ever the manager? He was stuck in the manager’s role after Duquette dumped Jimy (sic) Williams. Duquette knew there was no way Kerrigan was going to keep his job when management switched over. But instead of letting him go, Duquette kept him on board into spring training where he went through the charade of being manager until the new ownership took over. When they did, to the surprise of nobody, he was let go.
The Front Office
GM – Dan Duquette
The Richard Nixon of Red Sox history.
So very talented at his job (lest we forget he brought in among others Pedro Martinez, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe, Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. Plus he drafted Nomar Garciaparra and Kevin Youkilis.)
But he was either so controlling or so destructive that he seemed to alienate the entire organization. And despite consistently putting a contender on the field, he was also on the attack against the Boston press, the players and no doubt cussed out Paul Revere’s statue in the process. Whatever good he did for the team, he had to go. Heck, he was partially responsible for most of the players leaving in a huff above!
You aren’t going to top that line up! Top to bottom with left and right handed power.
And that rotation where Fergie Jenkins is the #5 starter?
Let’s hope the Red Sox, with Varitek and Ortiz at the end of their time in Boston this year get to exit more gracefully.
But then again, that wouldn’t be the Red Sox way, would it?
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As some one who grew up reading Dan Shaughnessy’s columns in The Boston Globe and who has gained what little popularity I have from the HBO Series loosely based on Shaughnessy’s book, I probably shouldn’t disagree with the red headed one too often.
But I take issue with HIS taking issue with this being a bridge season for the Red Sox.
IT IS A BRIDGE SEASON!
Why not admit it?
The Red Sox are in a transition… not a major rebuilding plan, but in a transition where they are more than just one big signing away from winning the whole kit and the kaboodle as well.
I do not want to see them just plugging holes with too many veterans that don’t fit, chasing after their tail like the Yankees did from 2005-2008.
I do know what I want the Red Sox to do, and it has NOTHING to do with Jason Bay… or Adrian Gonzalez… or even Roy Halladay.
The Red Sox have lost their identity offensively.
They were the Papi and Manny show. Well Papi is a shell of his former self and even though Theo seems hell bent on acquiring everyone ELSE named Ramirez, Manny is long gone and his replacement Bay looks gone too.
Now Pedroia, Youk and Victor Martinez all make for an OK lineup… and maybe even one that could win another wild card. But they need a new identity.
And I do not know the names of the guys who will be that new identity.
One is a terrific left handed hitter.
The other is a fearsome right handed hitter.
And preferably they are two guys will either be a product of the Red Sox farm system or be plucked from another organization and use up their rookie eligibility in a Sox uniform.
Think about the great combinations the Red Sox have had since the franchise was revived in 1967.
As it was, the two had a few terrific years together with Yaz providing the all around offense and Tony C smacking the home runs and making the hearts flutter.
Both could have been the MVP in 1975 or in 1979 (Lynn won it in 1975.)
Rice WAS the MVP in 1978.
I can not recall a better 1-2 tandem of home grown players who emerged at the same time as these two. A new Lynn-Rice for the 2010s would be the greatest thing to happen to Red Sox Nation since Dave Roberts’ steal.
(Isn’t it odd that the Red Sox amidst the Yawkey years held onto RICE and not Lynn?)
It’s funny. I originally felt apologetic about including these two. But why? They are both Hall of Famers… and they gave the Red Sox a righty-lefty threat that was quite unique. Twice when Jim Rice was a top 5 finisher for the MVP, Boggs won the batting title and led the league in on base percentage in the same year.
Plus had Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell, Ray Knight or Mookie Wilson made an out in the 10th inning of Game 6, then THEY would have been the ones to have lifted the Curse!
Granted the least sexy of the lefty-righty tandems. But Burks was a solid all around offensive player who continued to produce long after the Red Sox dumped him. (He came back to earn a ring with the 2004 squad.) And Mike Greenwell may not have been a Hall of Famer like Williams, Yaz or Rice… but he gave the Red Sox 9 full seasons in left, hitting .295 or better in 8 of those seasons, had some decent pop and was runner up to Jose Canseco in the 1988 MVP vote.
Doesn’t it seem like they had more than 2 full seasons together? They were a perfect duo. Vaughn, the big lovable lug from Connecticut who was beloved by the fans and helped ease the Red Sox terrible reputation with African American players… but also could launch homers that just towered into the bullpen and be a .300 hitter and a top 5 MVP finisher 3 times. (Yeah he won the MVP in 1995… but Albert Belle should have won it.)
And Nomar, whose name became a rallying cry, was the 1997 Rookie of the Year his first full season with Vaughn and the MVP runner up his second and final year with Vaughn. When Vaughn left it broke up the tandem that seemed destined to break the curse.
Ahhh the ones who DID break The Curse. And we now know they weren’t just eating Wheaties either.
But for those magical 5 1/2 seasons, there was no middle of the order that spelled doom faster than Papi and Manny. Papi brought the best out of Manny and Manny made sure Papi saw some fast balls to hit!
Papi had 5 straight top 5 MVP finishes in that run and Manny had 3 top 10 MVP finishes in the same 5 year run.
And you will note that with the exception of Papi and Manny, they were all products of the Sox farm system. And only Manny was a player of note before coming over.
These were hitters who played either their whole career as a Red Sox hitter or at least played their prime years in Fenway.
I am not talking about importing Adrian Gonzalez or Matt Holliday and seeing them break down in a Red Sox uniform or not fit in to the crazy Boston sports culture.
We need to develop our own… and then use the Red Sox resources to keep them around. They way that Pedroia, Youkilis, Lester, Ellsbury, Papelbon and hopefully Buchholz, Bard and Bowden will be Red Sox for a long long time.
The time has come for the next great 1-2 punch in Red Sox history… and until then we are on a bridge.
Let’s hope this bridge is built quicker than the Big Dig!
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