You could have all the talent in the world, big time free agent pitchers, rising young prospects and superstars could litter the 25-man roster, but without direction, purpose leadership, you’ll most likely be on the golf course in October instead of on the field in pursuit of a championship.
Ladies and gentleman, your 2012 Boston Red Sox.
After the 2011 collapse, Red Sox management and ownership made the worst move they could possibly make — a knee-jerk reaction to a historically miserable end to a season.
They fired Terry Francona and hired former New York Mets manager and smirking Baseball Tonight analyst, Bobby Valentine.
He was an awful fit from the beginning; he talked too much and his mannerisms were irritating to even the most casual baseball fan. He called out Kevin Youkilis, one of the team’s most respected veterans, questioning his work ethic and eventually forcing him out of town.
He managed as if the team owed him something, and as if the fans were paying to watch him do his job instead of the nine guys on the field who were doing theirs.
The guy was a one man circus. Except some people like the circus.
He was a loser, and the Red Sox needed a winner.
Enter John Farrell.
Farrell was the pitching coach on a 2007 Red Sox team that won the World Series. He turned Josh Beckett into a 20 game winner, and Dice-K Matsuzaka into an 18 game winner — that’s worth an award in itself.
So when the Red Sox mercifully fired Bobby V and hired the former pitching coach, who was managing the Toronto Blue Jays at the time, I threw my hands up in the air and waved ‘em like I just didn’t care.
He was a calming force from the beginning of the season, and with the combination of a few good charismatic free-agent signees, changed the culture in the clubhouse back into a winning environment.
His presence has been comforting all season. You can’t tell whether the Red Sox hit a grand slam or if they gave one up by looking at his face. He once played a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos with live hippos; okay, now I’m getting off topic.
The Red Sox were talented in 2012 and won a measly 69 ball games. Now, with 18 games left to play, the Red Sox have the best record in the American League, and an outside shot at 100 wins (need to finish 13-5).
You can’t tell me that Farrell doesn’t have a lot to do with that. I don’t care who else is up for Manager of the Year, because John Farrell is the runaway winner.