Dig around in your closet for your old baseball cards. Not the good ones, but the ones for the players you don’t remember and have almost thrown away a few times. I’m looking for a card for a pitcher who first played in the majors for the Cleveland Indians in 1987. If you find it, you’ll see actually only eight years of MLB play and two years where he was out injured. The lifetime stats are a 36–46 record and a fairly pedestrian ERA of 4.56.
Yeah, this card is probably being sold for 99 cents on EBay.
In the great baseball movie “Field of Dreams”, Ray Kinsella talks to ‘Moonlight’ Graham about the career that might have been. Certainly, any athlete who sees his future come suddenly crashing to a close understands that pain. When Ray asks Archie Graham what was it like, Graham replies “It was like coming this close to your dreams, and then watching them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd.”
Well, anybody that may be at this crossroads right now should go buy that card on EBay for inspiration.
Because that card belongs to John Farrell, the losing pitcher who found his major league success as the 2013 Boston Red Sox manager. He came in two years after one of the worst meltdown in all of sports. He came in a year after a tempestuous season that saw the Red Sox finish in last place. If 2011 had the Red Sox as a nothing but a pile of rubble on the ground, 2012 was a season where the impossible happened — the Red Sox actually took that pile of rubble and bulldozed it lower into a pit.
The 2013 preseason reports were universal in their predictions: the Red Sox are going nowhere, and will finish close to last or last place again. Mercifully, in a final act of acknowledgement, Red Sox management declared the charade of a sellout streak over.
Now, in no small part thanks to Farrell, you’re reading about the “Worst To First” headlines and Boston’s first postseason play since 2009 — not just by winning a Wild Card slot, but the AL East altogether. Scanning the news, the current betting line is AL Manager of the Year is Farrell’s to lose. For those of us who have appreciated Farrell since we first saw him as the Sox pitching coach in 2007, it is truly something he deserves, and a reminder to all that the cliche is right, “When one door closes, another one opens.”
Old Doc Graham would be proud.