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Jerry Ballgame kicks off the week with some random observations from the Boston sports scene. He weighs in on Terry Francona, Bill Belichick’s lack of recent playoff success and even sexism in sports.


If Terry Francona was distracted during 2011, he had good reason to be.

Following the epic collapse of the 2011 Red Sox, there came a prolonged and anguished frenzy of analysis and finger pointing, the likes of which is rarely seen outside of our Nation’s capital. Bob Hohler’s article in the October 12th Boston Globe provided insight into to the team’s inner workings, and helped to fuel much of Red Sox Nation’s consternation.

It seemed to me, that during this time, the national media was quick to seize upon Francona’s marital problems and possible dependency on pain killers as excuses for his being less focused on his job, while ignoring the far more difficult but perhaps less sexy concern of having two loved ones in “harm’s way.” His son Nick, and his son-in-law Michael Rice, are both U.S. Marines who have been in Afghanistan dismantling bombs. According to Bella English’s story in the November 2nd edition of the Boston Globe, the younger Francona returned safely in October, while Rice’s tour runs to March.

This season had to have been difficult for Tito; watching the spoiled and self-centered antics of some of his players while all the time knowing what his son and his friends were literally risking life and limb. If he was distracted, I think it understandable. How could he not be?

I believe we own Mr. Francona a collective “Thank You.”, a pat on the back and a prayer or two. While Jon Lester, on the other hand, deserves a kick in the butt.



WIll Belichick ever get by without a little help from his friends?

In the last few years of Bill Parcells coaching life, before he ascended to the front office, it became very popular amongst media types (especially in Boston) to point out that he never won a championship without Bill Belichick as his defensive coordinator. A tune with a similar refrain is beginning to be heard of late regarding Coach Bill the Younger. This time it’s Scott Pioli, now the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, who is the missing ingredient to the championship recipe. You could also throw into the mix the names of former coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel as well,  but it was Pioli who helped “shop for the groceries” (a Parcells’ phrase and a talent Belichick seems a bit inconsistent at mastering).  Bill B. hasn’t exactly fallen on his regular season face in the past three years, as he still seems able to scheme with the best of them, but his personnel decisions have been at times hard to defend.

None of the members of Team Belichick have gone on to particularly great heights since their departures. Weis failed at Notre Dame, Crennel was unsuccessful in Cleveland and, despite Pioli’s talent for picking talent, the Chiefs still need to buy tickets if they want to go to the Super Bowl. The Patriots continue to be regular season successes, but not much more. Like the Beatles, this is one band that should have stayed together.



If linebackers like James Harrison are so tough, why are they crying about all those rules changes?

I’m not sure what the agreed upon life expectancy of clichés is, but there are a few that I feel need to be retired. As the son of a bus driver (yes, I’m an S.O.B.), I’ve never been fond of the reference to death by public transportation. (Although a ride in a New York City taxi can be scary.) Waiting on a crowded big city subway platform can also require a fair amount of determination and resolve, but I’ve yet to hear anyone use “Sacrificed to a subway”, as a metaphor for betrayal, even though it has potential.

However, the clichéd response that I’m most tired of is the “Why don’t you just put a dress on the quarterback”, every time a rule is changed to protect that position and/or wide receivers. It annoys me on a variety of levels. First of all it short changes the toughness and competiveness of female athletes. Something you don’t want to do. In addition, have you ever noticed which group of football players does the most whining about the changes? It’s linebackers and free safeties; the guys who get to blindside people the most. The players, who get their brains scrambled to the point of early onset dementia, often try to “man-up” about it, but you know secretly they have to appreciate being given a fighting chance.

So please sports commentators, linebackers, and free safeties, show some originality, or at least some fashion sense. I mean the shoulder pads are cool, but the short pants could use some work.

Boston image courtesy of:
Belichick and Co. image courtesy of:
Harrison image courtesy of: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America
Francona image courtesy of:

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.