I first learned about the blame game as a little kid watching
the frightening movie, "Jaws". Remember that scene where the
coast guard, with high-powered rifles ready, comes upon two kids
dressed up as dorsal fins, intent on scaring the hell out people
swimming in the water? Staring up at the barrel of a shotgun
and quivering as he was about to meet his maker, one of the
kids points at his buddy and says, "He made me do it."
And it was then, that I learned about pointing the finger at
someone else to deflect any blame for yourself. Years later,
I found out about "scapegoats" and "throwing people under
the bus", a popular phrase used to describe a person who kills
others in order to save themselves. It happens everyday in
the workplace and society doesn't it? There are people in
your office who would "throw their mothers under the bus"
if it meant getting ahead. That's how cutthroat things have
Now, as we've come to the final day of the season, where
the Red Sox could either put the exclamation point on one
of the biggest collapses in baseball history or rinse away
all the negativity with a win over Baltimore and a loss by
the Rays, big fingers have been pointed and that giant
yellow bus has been racking up the miles. How could the
Red Sox blow a nine-game lead in early September? Why
did it even come to this? Who should take the blame?
Who should take the fall?
The hacks on sports radio, geeks on the Internet, and
columnists who have the ability to erase and delete have
delivered their hard-hitting opinions on who is to blame
for the Red Sox monumental collapse. Is it manager
Terry Francona or GM Theo Epstein? After all, somebody
has to "take the fall" for what could be an epic disaster, right?
They say Francona has made questionable moves and
Theo didn't make any trades to fortify the starting pitching,
not to mention the disastrous signing of Carl Crawford.
The baseball "insiders" have chimed in with their reports
that the relationship between Francona and Epstein has
become "strained", with each not wanting to be held
accountable for this debacle. There has already been
talk of Francona being Grady Little-d, painted as the
scapegoat and replaced by Bobby Valentine. Its funny
how fast and hard you can fall, especially after winning
two world series titles in seven years, in a town that hadn't
captured one in the 86 years before that.
In most cities, Epstein would have a big target on his back,
but in Boston, Boy Wonder is untouchable. He grew up a
David Ortiz tape-measure shot from Fenway Park and is
considered a hero for bringing a World Series to Boston, even
though he inherited a powerfully-built team that was constructed
by Dan Duquette. Esptein is also a favorite of John Henry,
and it seems that no matter how reckless Epstein was
with Henry's money, there is no way that he's going to
get really dinged with what could be considered a fiasco
if the Red Sox don't make the playoffs.
The pressure is clearly on Francona in the final game
of the season. He will be made the scapegoat for what
will be an epic collapse. Francona was considered a
genius on September 4th with the Red Sox all but assured
of a ticket to baseball's post-season party. Then his
starters couldn't make it past the third inning, Kevin
Youkilis couldn't play, and John Lackey started acting
like a petulant child who didn't get his way. Did Francona,
who has won as many titles as Tony LaRussa, the chosen
one, in about half as many years, all of a sudden become
incompetent as a manager? No. His pitching staff became
incompetent and he still had to pencil Carl Crawford's
name into the line-up every night.
Francona has done a great job in his career with the
Red Sox. Two World Series titles in seven years should
enough to keep his job safe. But this is Boston, a city that knows
all too well about epic collapses and demands that
someone pay for it. Bill Buckner found that out. So
did John McNamara and Don Zimmer. If the Red
Sox choke on the chalupa tonight or tomorrow, I sure
hope Francona doesn't fall into the same category with
the other fall guys. He doesn't deserve to be thrown under
the bus or have the finger pointed at him. But that's not how
things work in our society or Boston, does it?