Friday, August 19, 2005

No One Wants to Work for Lou Pinella

In the first Matrix movie, Morpheus regales the former Ted S. Preston (Esq.) with a philosophical statement about the current state of the world (that humans are used to power machines).

“Fate,” he tells us, “is not without a sense of irony.”

Today, I’m finding that statement appropriate.

Once a week, I’ve been pummeling you with a 3,000 word Lines, essentially eschewing any actual job responsibility to recount tales of Manny being Manny, A-Rod’s potential as the “Greatest of All Time,” Mariano as the Best. Closer. Ever. and just about any Sox/Yanks plotline I could wrap my rapidly-deteriorating attention span around.

But unfortunately, I don’t get paid to do that. (COUGH… S.I. … COUGH … I’m waiting… COUGH.)

I work full time as a “copywriter” (no, not this: ©) for a travel company that caters to the 50-something sect. All day, I sit at a desk and write letter after letter – and more catalogs than could fit in a mailbox – all in the name of fattening the pockets of Alan Thomas, the owner and CEO of one of the world's leading travel companies. (motto: Sending old people all over the freakin’ world since 1974.) And really, I don’t mind the work.

But in the name of Lines, I’ve delayed meetings; blatantly ignored deadlines; pawned projects off on spineless coworkers; and read ESPN.com Breaking News before reading any work email, even the ones marked ‘urgent.’ All just to bring you my opinion about a game.

How long could this go on? How long could I live this Office Space life and fool my three bosses – yes, three – into thinking that I was actually a competent employee? How long before they figured out I have no idea what a TPS report is? How many times could I be quick on the draw, niftily thumbing the ‘alt-tab’ before I slipped up and someone caught me “blogging at work?”

So I suppose it was inevitable. I suppose it was only a matter of time before they found out. I’m sorry to say that all this has unfortunately gotten me…

promoted.

I feel like I just walked out of a meeting with the Bobs. In the Nomar-for-Cabrera/Manishevitz move of the year, I’ve been promoted to "second in command" of my department, and even been assigned three suckers – I mean direct reports – who are now dutifully lining up with pursed lips eager to kiss my skyrocketing behind.

Movin on up... to the East Side... to a deluxe apartment... in the sky...

Well, let's not get carried away. By no means am I the Steinbrenner of this operation, or even the Joe Torre. But I’m certainly not the Dale Sveum here – I have no doubt I’ll be more competent than him. I’m more like a bullpen coach.

But now I have to work on my style. How do I manage my people? Am I the cool guy? The hard-ass? This new alignment is in effect immediately, so I have to decide quick. Got to make the good first impression. To help me out – and conveniently tie this whole column back to baseball – I’ve decided to take a look at how the styles of a few MLB managers would play out... if they worked in corporate America. Hilarity ensues...

The Terry Francona: The ultimate “players manager,” this guy is affable, isn’t always looking over your shoulder or second-guessing his team. He only steps in when he feels things are really out of hand. This is the way to go if you want your team to love you. Of course, it's also a really good way to get screwed because your people don't respect you. I don’t want my guys going over my head like the Sox go to the media. A lack of respect kills careers even faster in corporate America than it does in Baseball.

The Joe Torre: The strong, silent type. This is the guy who sits in the corner in the conference room, and doesn’t speak until the last five minutes. But when he does, everyone hangs on every word. There’s no doubt who is running the show. He’s the guy the team wants to win for, and they feel bad when they let him down. The ultimate protector, this guy won't put up with Seagull Management from executives (you know, when they swoop in and crap all over everything). He takes the heat off his guys. Of course, this style only works with a stacked deck, with a team that needs little guidance – and where little personal interaction is involved. So it’s hard to say how effective it would be in an office with desks so close together I can tell my coworker had tacos for dinner last night even before she sits down.

The Ozzie Guillen: Always animated, always backing his team up. This guy is not afraid to throw himself onto the fire when an executive wonders aloud if Todd from accounting is just stupid, or mentally retarded: he’s got Todd’s back, even if Todd did just staple his hand to his pants leg. Why? Because he believes in Todd's potential. Of course, much like Torre in the past, this guy happens to be working with a stacked deck (with the exception of Todd, or should I say Jose Contreras). He's got a team full of guys having career years. If I go this way, I could end up as manager of the year… or I could find myself standing in the unemployment line next year when my team does the equivalent of batting .167; namely, spelling the Chairman’s name “Ellen.”

The Lou Pinella: He knows the industry better than 99% of the guys out there. He’s the ultimate strategist. He's creative. He can cultivate a decent crop out of a farm system that can’t grow weeds. But he questions management openly – not a popular stance in Baseball, and career suicide in corporate America. And the minute a decision doesn’t go his way, he snaps faster than a coked-out Mike Tyson. We've all seen someone lose their mind in a conference room before - and it's usually the first step out the front door. He may also be insane. There's a very good chance this guy will end up in a padded room after he hops across the table and attacks the Chairman with a staple remover. No one wants to work with him, let alone for him.

The Frank Robinson: He earned his keep as one of the guys that founded the company. He’s a symbol from the past. A living legend. His portrait will go up in the lobby when he retires. If you ask anyone, they’ll rave about him, because he’s an institution within the institution. Of course, he is exceptionally well respected by everyone – or so they’ll have you believe. Deep inside, "in places you don't talk about at parties," everyone knows he’s really an arrogant prick; has a Bobby Knight-caliber temper; is as stubborn as General Custer right before his Last Stand; and has been sitting on his laurels for way too long. But you’ll never find anyone who will say it.

The Mike Soscia: Actually, he’s the one guy who will say it. And it made him a villain within the company - or an underground hero. But because everyone is obliged to hate him now – even if they don’t – he's got zero chance of ever advancing. At least not until that portrait is on the wall.

The Dusty Baker: He’s got all the pieces, but still can’t win big with them. Maybe he’s got bad luck, maybe he’s cursed. He gets the job done just enough to stay employed, but can’t get to the next level. This guy might as well have “career middle-management” stamped all over his head.

The Buck Showalter: Just a damn good manager. He'll have Todd from accounting turning out annual reports faster than Eduardo at the local diner turns out flapjacks. He can motivate and teach. He specializes in making newbies into solid performers, and has the respect of everyone in the company. This guy would be running the show - if he wasn't "too valuable to us where he is." And we all know what that means. He's screwed by almost being too good. No one wants to give him all the pieces he needs to get to the next level.

The Tony LaRussa: Here’s the guy whose PowerPoint slides for the morning meeting are as thick as the King James Bible. Every possible question the Chairman asks, he has an answer for. There’s no surprising him, no stumping him. He's the guy who calls the two hour meetings, the hell-on-earth kind that have you wondering if it's possible to take your own life with a ball point pen. He's always well prepared – in fact, he’s so well prepared, even management resents him; he makes them look stupid. This is the guy who gets fired when they find a couple of porno mags and a half-empty bottle of whiskey in his desk – because a coworker planted them there.

The Bobby Cox: This is the guy that drank the half-empty bottle of whiskey before planting it on that over-eager ass-kisser. He’s a tell-it-like-it-is guy, and doesn’t take crap from anybody. It’s hard to tell if people respect him, or just don’t want to argue with him – but he gets the job done somehow. Of course, he’s also been known to make some catastrophic decisions right before the big presentation, mistakes that cost you the account. (Like bringing in Brian Hunter as a defensive replacement in the 1999 World Series, and watching Hunter make two errors).

The Buddy Bell: This guy makes Todd from accounting look like Einstein by compairison. He's never even heard of a TPS report. If he's your manager, chances are you spend more of your time holding his hand than doing your own work. He's going to drive the department into the ground, and take you down with him, and there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it. But everyone keeps giving him a chance becuase he's a geniunely nice guy. Either that, or he's got pictures of the Chairman with "Double-D" Debbie from HR.

There's also the Jack McKeon, who can't hold a job for longer than three years; the Mike Hargrove, who had one good run a few years ago and has been milking it ever since; and the Alan Trammel, a guy that's been with the organization for so long, he's probably boffing the Chairman's daughter.

But really, do you want any of these guys responsible for the future of your career? Probably not.

Personally, I'd rather work for a guy who spends one day a week writing a column about the Sox and Yanks.

A few quick observations this week because my three bosses were so kind to pile up these new responsibilities on top of my exisiting workload. At least they were nice enough to give me a new title and a raise. Oh wait, they didn't. Well, it could be worse, I could be one of the people reporting to me - now they have four bosses.

· Everyone is saying the Yanks are out of it already. As if we needed any more proof that sportswriters and talk radio hosts will say anything to produce controversy. There are over 40 games left. The Yanks are only down 4 in the division, and 1.5 in the Wild Card. Plus, we're almost to the end of August, which means the yearly Red Sox September collapse is only a few weeks away. And let's not forget - the Sox and Yanks still play six games head to head. (Of which, I'll be at four, thanks very much.)

· I still hate Manny. If he wins MVP of the league, we should just surgically remove the heart and desire of every child who wants to play Major League Ball someday. Honestly, if I had to decide between my child being a selfish, lazy, stupid waste of talent like Manny, or having a steriod problem, I'd take the steriod problem hands down - because I can prove to a kid that steriods are bad for you.

· The Red Sox as a team bat .309 in "Close and Late" situations. Most guys don't even bat .309 in those situations. Let alone whole teams. The next best team is LAAASC with a whopping .273. (Yanks bat .252.) And why does it always seem that David Ortiz is up in the bottom of the ninth or when the game is on the line? Are the Red Sox fudging the lineup mid-game without anyone noticing? There needs to be an investigation into this.

· It's the bottom of the 11th in a tie game. Men on first and third. A solid hitter is due up. Your guy just threw a five pitch walk to the guy on first. He's been struggling in these situations all year, and his scouting report even says, "often loses sight of the strike zone." But you decide to intentionally walk the solid hitter, which forces your boy to throw strikes. And can he? Hell no. A four pitch walk ends the game. How does a manager as experienced as Torre not see this coming?

This weekend's matchups:
Sox @ LAAASC, (If you don't know what that stands for you haven't been reading often enough.) Fri. 10:05, Sat. 4:05, Sun. 4:05
Yanks @ ChiSox, Fri. 8:05, Sat. 1:20; Sun. 3:05

Bill Beard is a professional writer who is going to be running this company someday, even if he has to boff the Chairman's daughter to do it. He can be reached for employment opportunities after the Chairman reads this column and fires him at wrbeard@hotmail.com.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Ghosts Ain't Just Nocturnal

You don't have to believe in them. But they're there.

This past weekend, I made my first sojourn back to Yankee Stadium since I was 11. I haven't been this ramped up for a weekend of sports in as long as I could remember, and with home-plate tickets to Friday's game, and “short porch” seats for Saturday's, I was sure it would be a weekend to remember. I was even predicting a 4,000 word exposition for the next installment of Lines.

As my friend Alana and I rode into the Bronx on the #4 train, I thought about the last time I had entered the hallowed grounds.

I remembered gaping in innocent awe at the sheer vastness of the scene, a mesmerizing mix of green and blue: the mowed perfection that is the smooth swath of outfield; the multi-story horseshoe stands toilet-bowl tilted toward the field; the countless blue seats and all-encompassing blue, padded walls.

I was a kid, and a kid from a small town. My concept of big was two double-stuff Oreoes mashed together.

As we approached, my excitement crescendoed into a frenzy when the name on the white facade came into view. I couldn't wait to get inside. I almost lost Alana in the crowd—not good, because I had no idea where I was going and she had the tickets. I failed to notice that The Stadium was in a relative ghetto, a place so run down you only go there with 56,000 of your closest friends.

This was a return long overdue, a return to my Mecca, my pilgrimage. My love of baseball—which admittedly waned during the post-strike years—has now recaptured its youthful passion.

For a minute there, I felt like a kid again.

And when I surged through the cramped concourse on Friday, as the vast expanse came into view, I was surprised by my initial impression:

It looked small. Not the “vast expanse” I remembered.

I didn't get chills. To tell you the truth, I was disappointed. I've been to Notre Dame Stadium, I've seen the Colusseum in Rome, hung out with 225,000 crazed fans at Woodstock '99. I felt jaded.

But by the end of the weekend, I would remember what makes Yankee Stadium The Stadium.

* * * *

We sat near home plate for Friday's game, behind the Yankees' on-deck circle. We were so close, we asked a guy to take our picture, but Derek said he had to go bat.

Going into the weekend, I had two wishes for the action:

1. Two Yankees wins
2. A chance to see the Sandman in The Stadium

And that was it.

Unfortunately, Friday's game didn't live up to our seats. Our angle accorded us a near-perfect view of the pitches, and Ervin Santana was tossing 97 mph gas. The Yankees would only muster one run to the Angels four, with Mike Mussina taking the loss. By the end of the seventh, it was clear Mariano would not be appearing today. I left The Stadium not disappointed—with seats like that it's hard to not enjoy the action—but wishing things had gone different.

And looking forward to tomorrow's game.

* * * *

Thanks to a train delay, we arrived at The Stadium on Saturday just in time to see new import Sean Chacon toss the first pitch to speedster Chone (somehow pronounced "Shawn") Figgins. Our seats were on the lowest tier of the famed “short porch” built some 78 years ago for a slugger named Ruth. We'd be sheltered from the piercing mid-day sun by the two tiers above our head.

As we sat down, the “bleacher-creatures” to our right began their traditional role call, chanting the name of every Yanks player in the field until he acknowledges them. Undoubtedly one of the coolest home-field traditions out there. I've heard it on TV many times, but—like many things about Yankee Stadium that I'd come to appreciate over the next four hours—that just doesn't compare to hearing it in person. And they even ended it with a nice touch: “Box Seats Suck!” Beautiful.

Having come over from the pitcher's graveyard that is Colorado, Chacon was eager to prove that he was the victim of his 1-7 record, not the other way around, and tossed six full innings of shut-out ball. To back him up, the Yanks pushed across three runs. Starved for good pitching, the New York fans hailed Chacon with a standing O when he was pulled in the top of the 7th, probably certain he'd be picking up his first AL win of the year.

He had no idea what was in store. And neither did we.

Over the next inning, a triumvirate of horrid pitching would destroy Chacon's win in dramatic fashion. Felix Rodriguez and Tom Gordon couldn't get an out, and in between the two, Sox castoff Alan Embree—“when did we get Embree?”—managed to give up a hit and toss a bunted ball into the first base stands.

By the middle of the 8th, it was 7-3, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of the State of California were on their way to taking the series.

And then a strange thing happened.

I turned into Haley Joel Osment.

When Matsui stepped to the plate and singled, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I got chills for the first time all weekend.

I could see Billy Martin, a Christmas Day car crash victim, clapping from the Yankees dugout.

The hottest player in Baseball, Jason Giambi, stepped in. And I could see the M&M boys, two cancer victims—and two guys who feasted on the Short Porch, Maris and Mantle—telling Giambi exactly what to do with the ball

And Giambi listened. He lofted a towering fly ball higher than any I'd ever seen, and let the Porch swallow it up. 7-5 Cali.

When the half-inning ended, I realized I wouldn't get my wish: Yanks were trailing, so logic stated no Mariano.

And then I heard it.

Hush little baby, don't say a word\And nevermind that noise you heard\it's just the beast under your bed\In your closet, in your head

I had just bought a Rivera shirt that morning—also long overdue—and now I was getting to see the Best. Closer. Ever. in the only home Stadium he'd ever known. Wish #2, granted.

And with the maniacal strains of Enter Sandman pounding away, the deamons forever ensconced in this hallowed ground broke loose from their eternal chains and rushed the field.

A firey guy in life and in death—a plane crash victim—Thurman Munson climbed behind home plate to catch Mariano as he tossed ghosts of his own, the Angels batters never seeing his cutter as it broke in on their hands.

Casey Stengel—cancer—strategized with Torre in the dugout about how to tackle the Angels hitters.

Gherig—can't remember what he died of, some disease—took over for Giambi at first, ready to snag anything that came his way.

And Mariano mowed them down. Strike out, strike out, ground out.

And there was no way in the depths of Hell that the Yankees were going to lose this game. The remaining 30,000 or so fans could feel it, I could feel it.

And we all knew the Ghosts were going to make it happen.

Fransisco Rodriguez, owner of the worst rip-off nickname ever (K-Rod), came in to close it out for the Angels. This is a guy who is widely regarded as the “Next Mariano” by people who's job it isn't to anoint those people.

But he's only 23. Just a kid, by Mariano standards. And he was no match for the talented devils that haunt The Stadium.

The nastiest ghost of them all, the Babe—death by lifestyle—got in K-Rod's ear. As foul-mouthed in death as he was in life, Ruth let him have it. Poor kid didn't stand a chance.

Tony Womack walked. Derek Jeter walked.

And K-Rod was breaking down. But there would be no help. The Angles had played an 18-inning marathon in Toronto on Thursday, exhausting the bullpen. And K-Rod is the Angels closer—if he can't get it done, there's no one to save him.

Rookie of the Year candidate Robinson Cano showed his green, and struck out after trying unsuccessfully twice to lay down a bunt.

But it wouldn't save K-Rod.

Elston Howard, who died from a rare heart disease, was whispering in Sheffield's ear. The first black man to play for the Yankees, and the 1963 MVP had seen it all. “Don't swing.”

Sheffield walked.

Then, a man who will eventually haunt the concourses here at The Stadium, possibly as the greatest player of all time before it's said and done, stepped into the box.

And A-Rod showed us all what greatness really is—he sacrificed his chance to play the hero, and drew a walk.

That brought in Matsui. The ghosts joined hands and worked their voodoo. And with one pitch, #55 smacked one into the left field gap...

...and The Stadium exploded. Two runs scored. Game. Over.

It was 6:00 on a bright summer evening. The sun was beating down on the Bronx. But on this day, the Ghosts weren't shying from the light.

They were looking on, and I could see them smiling.

And as for me? I believed again, like I did when I was just a kid from a small town.

Observations from this week’s games:

So you knew I had to go here… let’s analyze this matchup head to head:

The Stadium vs. Fenway

Design:
The Green Monster, Death Valley in center, the .406 club, seats that face in the wrong direction, the Right Field Roof Deck, being able to see into the bullpen from just about anywhere, the way the right field fence boosts Johnny Damon’s ego… versus a very well-thought-out horseshoe design, the Short Porch, three even tiers, the white fencing high in center that gives the park its signature look. The only thing that makes this close is Monument Park. There's a lot to be said for originality. The Nod goes to: Fenway


It's beautiful, but Fenway is just funkier.


Atmosphere:
The Stadium packs over 56,000 people compared to Fenway’s measly 34,000. Both have their ghosts, and both have that aura a baseball stadium should have—you don’t know what it is, but when you walk in and see those lights and that grass and all those seats, it just hits you. Fenway feels more intimate—like you’re a part of something special. But The Stadium, with the history of success of the Franchise, feels like hallowed ground. The Nod goes to: Both

Location:
As the snow flies\On a cold and gray [New York] mornin'\A poor little baby child is born\In the ghetto\(In the ghetto)\And his mama cries\'Cause if there's one thing\That she don't need\It's another hungry mouth to feed\In the ghetto\(In the ghetto)… The Nod goes to: Fenway

Seats/Views:
This one is not even close. Apparently, the Ho-Ho wasn’t around in 1912, because the seats in Fenway do not accommodate our modern-day American ass-fat; the seats in right field face… left field; Unless you’re a professionally trained sniper, you can’t see the action from the top of bleachers in Fenway; Poles make for obstructed views. I could go on. But I don’t need to. Yankee Stadium, not a bad seat in the house. You can see everything from everywhere. The Nod goes to: The Stadium.

Prices:
Forget that it’s $7.50 for a 16 ounce beer, compared to Fenway’s $4.50 for a 12. Forget that every item—and I mean every item—in The Stadium costs more than it does at Fenway. The cheapest ticket at Fenway? $23. (And those get bought up faster than cocaine at Daryl Strawberry’s house.) The cheapest ticket at Yankee Stadium? $5. No contest. The Nod goes to: The Stadium.

Food/Drink:
Nothing beats a Fenway Frank, but THEY SERVE BEER IN THE STANDS AT YANKEE STADIUM. I snapped my neck giving this Nod to: The Stadium

Venue Fans:
I’ve never understood how a Franchise with a history of crushing disappointment could have so many bandwagon fans. But really, that just speaks to the power of baseball in Boston. To keep men happy, girls in Boston don't fake orgasms—they fake interest in the Sox. This weekend, about 30,000 people left The Stadium when the Yanks were trailing by four…at the end of the sixth. With the exception of every soccer venue in any country but this one, I doubt there’s any sports venue that lives and dies with each loss. It hurts me, but the Nod goes to: Fenway

Traditions:
Fenway has Sweet Caroline, Dirty Water, Tessie. Yankee Stadium has Ed Alston hammering away on an old Hammond Organ. Fenway has Pesky’s Pole and the Green Monster. Yankee Stadium has Monument Park. Yankee Stadium has the role call by the bleacher creatures. The most popular Red Sox fan chant? “Yankees Suck”—even when they aren’t playing the Yankees. The Nod goes to: The Stadium

Who’s the big winner here? By a score of 5 to 4, The Stadium gets the Nod.

More observations:

• In one of the scarier moments of the season, Matt Clement took a line drive from Carl Crawford upside his noggin. The blast was so powerful, it not only knocked the Sox pitcher off his feet, but careened all the way to left field, giving Crawford an RBI single. If you think that play was hard to watch, I have two words for you: Bryce Florie. Ever see a man’s face explode? It was like someone took a crowbar to his cornea. Not only did it end his career—he’ll be setting airport metal detectors off for the rest of his life.

• The Yankees declined the 2006 option on Bernie Williams this week. Though he may be slower than a rock rolling uphill now, and might lose a throwing contest to Johnny Damon, in his heyday Williams was one of the best. Five-time All-Star, four-time gold glove winner, 1998 batting champ (.339), and all time leader in postseason games (115), homers (22), and RBI (79). I’d also toss in his .301 career average, but that’s going to go in the proverbial crapper after this year. Williams was a Yankees farmhand, and has never played for another team in his 14-year career.

From ESPN.com: Jason Giambi batted .355 with 14 home runs during July. No player had hit that many home runs in a calendar month while posting a .350-or-higher batting average since August 2001, when Sammy Sosa batted .385 with 17 home runs. Listen: LOCK for July Player of the Month. Who's got the juice\Who's got the freshy freshy\Who's got the only sweetest thing in the world...

• Speaking of the juice, Raffi Palmiero, a lock for first-ballot HOF, tested positive for steriods this week. The first "big fish" that's been caught by the... system... it's... a... YAAAAAWWWWNNNNN... I'm sorry, I dozed off for a minute there. What were we talking about?

Last but not least, let’s talk about “Manny being Manny.” We were in the stands on Friday night when the guy behind us said, “Manny got traded.” This swung about 20 heads around, including mine. To who? When? For who? After calling everyone I knew—both of them weren’t home—I resigned to waiting for Sportscenter. Of course, by the end of the weekend, all this would be bubkis.

Anyone who knows baseball knows it would completely destroy the Sox World Series hopes to trade Manny. Sure, there’s the run production—yesterday, Manny went 30 HR 100 RBI for the 8th straight season—but my first thought wasn’t who would produce those runs. It was “who would they bat behind Ortiz?” Ortiz KILLED the Yankees last year, especially in the playoffs. I remember begging a televised Joe Torre to walk him. Without the threat of Manny behind him Ortiz gets a free pass every time, which was proven when Manny was scratched from Saturday’s game. Ortiz drew four walks. FOUR.

According to the rumors, the Sox would be giving up a potential Future Hall of Famer (does anyone in the Hall have dreadlocks?) for a good CF in Cameron and an average DH/1B in Huff, plus top pitching prospect Anibel Sanchez. Obviously, this makes no sense. So here’s what may have been going on:

The Red Sox brass was trying to light a fire under Manny’s ass. This is the general media opinion, which is the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard. Every year Manny pulls this “I want to be traded” dance, and every year, he ends up begging to stay. Could this have been an elaborate and time-consuming trick by the Sox front office to send a message to their slugger to get their act straight? Um, no. That's what Managers are for.

The Sox Front Office was tired of Manny’s crap. And they really were trying to unload him, even willing to take a hit to do it. My opinion, this was the most likely of the scenarios.

The Sox were trying to unload Manny’s salary. So they could sign someone else? Who? And why do the Sox need to unload salary? They’ve got the money. A guy behind us at the Stadium kept proposing this theory. It was all I could do to turn around and not slap him like his momma used to.

Front Office Ego (FOE). Theo unloads superstar for an average hitter and a defensive specialist. Sound familiar? It should. Nomar for Cabrera and a bottle of Manishevitz, Red Sox win World Series. Manny for Huff and Cameron. Resemblance? Uncanny. Purely Theo trying to show that he was a superstar GM and replicate his actions of last year. If this trade goes down and the Sox win, Theo instantly vaults into Best. GM. Of. All. Time. status. This kind of Ego trading has been killing the Yankees for years. Hence, every fan’s worst FOE.

Of course, Manny has singlehandedly won two games for the Sox since the rumors subsided. I hate that guy.

On tap this week:
Sox vs. KC (Thurs. 1:05)
Sox at Twins (Fri. 8:10, Sat. 7:10, Sun. 2:10)
Yanks at Indians (Thurs. 7:05)
Yanks at Jays (Fri. 7:07, Sat. 4:07, Sun. 1:07)

Bill Beard is an independent writer who's sometimes crass humor is just "Billy being Billy." He can be reached for quotes about himself at wrbeard@hotmail.com.