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Soup of This Day #167: My Most Imaginary Friend

April 17, 2012

Detail from a 1918  'Inverted Jenny'
Don’t adjust your screen as this image is the right way up when it’s upside down. It’s detail taken from a 1918 ‘Inverted Jenny’, 1 of the rarest postage stamps in the world. Someone stuffed up and put the plane, a Curtiss JN-4, upside down. The error has only been found on 1 pane of 100 – Image: US Post Office, 1918. The US Post Office is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Hello everyone and welcome to this special hypothetical counselling session. I’m sure we’ll make some progress here today and that we all really want the same outcome. Now how about I throw out the 1st pitch and tell you about how we’re gonna run this thing?

The 1st innings, so to speak, is about getting to know each other. I’d like to go around the room and have each of you tell me 3 things – Who you are, what your favourite colour is and something about you that nobody else knows. I’ll give you an example by taking the lead off role:

My name is Longworth72 and I’m a blogger. My favourite colour is red, both as in the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC. Something that nobody here knows is that I used to collect postage stamps as a youngster. Sometimes I think I would like to start that up again.

Ok, who wants to hit 2nd? Bobby?

Bobby V: Hi, I’m Bobby V and I’m a media personality… sorry, the Manager of the Red Sox. My favourite colour is all of them and something nobody knows about me is that I like pelicans – They’re such graceful birds.

Thanks for sharing that Bobby. I think it’s safe to say we have runners on now so let’s go to Kevin next?

Kevin Y: I’m Kevin Y and I play my guts out for the Boston Red Sox. My favourite colour is blood red and something nobody knows about me is that I don’t take crap from nobody, except maybe Santa.

Okay Kevin, nice sac fly there to advance the discussion. Let’s try Dustin now?

Dustin P: Hey everybody. My name is Dustin P and I own 2nd base for the Boston Red Sox. My favourite colour is a kind of dirty, muddy red. Nobody knows about my admiration for Terry Francona.

Thanks Dustin, although I think it might surprise you to know that almost everyone does know about that last bit. Let’s finish up the innings with a grand slam from Ben:

Ben C: Hi, I’m Theo E and I’m a General Manager of an honest-to-goodness baseball team. My favourite colour is Cubbie blue and something that nobody knows about me is that I think that Ben C is the bestest GM for the Red Sox.

Ahhhh… Okaaaay… Aren’t you actually Ben C, the GM of the Red Sox?

Ben C: [sighs] Yes, but I want to be Theo E.

That’s nice Ben – I think we all get that Theo E’s shadow is a problem but let’s try to leave that for another day. In fact let’s use that as a prompt to maybe clarify what today is really about:

This all started when Kevin had kind of a slow start to 2012. Kevin, I think you’ll agree you weren’t finding your swing in Spring Training. No big deal that but then it carried forward into April and your numbers haven’t been up to your usual high standard. I think, and correct me if I’m wrong but your numbers read .200/.265/.233 across 8 games. Early days for sure but not really trending towards Greek God of Walks standards.

Ok, so Bobby has been asked about this in an interview, this concept that Kevin was not ‘Youk-like’ and Bobby, you’ve gone and responded with:

‘I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason. But [on Saturday] it seemed, you know, he’s seeing the ball well, got those two walks, got his on-base percentage up higher than his batting average, which is always a good thing, and he’ll move on from there.’

Kevin, you’ve then been called by people who have told you about that and you’ve taken those comments as meaning that Bobby is calling you out on your commitment. As such you’ve taken a swing of your own:

‘I’m more confused than anything because everyone knows I go out and play the game as hard as I can. It’s just my style of play. I was never blessed with the raw tools and I’ve always had to use playing the game hard and with full effort my whole life.’

And then Dustin, you’ve stepped up as sort of an unofficial clubhouse leader and backed up Kevin:

‘I know Youk plays as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen in my life and I have his back and his teammates have his back. We know how hard he plays. I don’t really understand what Bobby’s trying to do, but that’s not the way we go about our stuff around here. I’m sure he’ll figure that out soon.’

I think the assumption that you made there Dustin is that maybe Bobby was trying to motivate by goading a reaction. Last, Ben has weighed in with his own response:

‘I was surprised to see the quote. I didn’t see the interview live, but I had it in that context. I was surprised because that’s not something Bobby had expressed to me. And we’ve all seen Kevin play for a long time and never wondered why he wasn’t into the game. He plays hard every day.’

Ok, let’s all take a deep breath. Feeling loose people? Good. Let me break this whole mess down for you as a I see it.

Kevin, you’re not playing to your usual standard. Everyone has noticed, not just Bobby. People are wondering if it’s because you’ve lost weight, I’ve heard suggestions that you need some more fried chicken. This was always going to be an issue for you – Your 2010 was great but your 2011 tailed off under injuries. That’s not your fault and I get the frustration but you’re going to have to learn to deal with questions and criticism. Bobby was just wondering aloud what a lot of folk were thinking.

Which brings us to you Bobby. Management 101 says you don’t criticize your troops publicly. You may not have meant it but you sure as hell came across like you were doing that. See, the public thing means Kevin is going to put his back up and he’s going to come out swinging. That is Sun Tzu’s Art of War in a nutshell right there – Talk privately Bobby.

Bobby V: But I’m open and accountable – It’s my thing.

You’re a little too open Bobby and your mouth is seemingly not accountable to even you. Or the Red Sox GM’s office for that matter. And on that front Ben, I’m wondering if maybe you weren’t happy that you got Bobby instead of Dale Sveum?

Ben C: Theo liked Dale.

Yeaaaaah, okaaaaaaay. Theo’s gone Ben. You’ve got Bobby now and you need to find a way to work with him which doesn’t involve publicly upbraiding the man. Theo wouldn’t have done that now would he? And speaking of people who are not with the Sox any more, It’s probably time to accept that Tito has left Dustin. You need to build a relationship with the new Manager and that does not happen by you publicly telling him how things get done according to you.

Dustin P: But what we do has worked well in the past.

Yep it did. But that was with a specific group under specific conditions and it was a while back. Your last 2 years have been an underwhelming return for the level of investment. Your core group has become complacent – Not in terms of work ethic – That is still strong. What you’ve stopped doing is innovating, improving continuously. Look at what moneyball did for Oakland. And then a couple of years later and everyone was on that train too. The drive to get onto a faster train has to go through the Manager – That’s his gig.

The Red Sox is a little like this thing I once had on my toe. It started out as a mosquito bite. I scratched it and broke the skin. The wound healed and as it did so it itched and I scratched it some more. Which broke the skin again. It’s now just this cyclical thing. It itches and I scratch so it itches and I scratch and… Eventually you just cut out the scratching and it heals.

The media keeps scratching at the wounds of 2011. That’s to be expected, it’s what they do. The problem is that you guys are scratching at the wound too and that’s just making the itch worse.

Do you see where I’m going here? Itching = Media coverage & Talking = Scratching.

I guess what I’m trying to tell all of you is this:

Shut. The. Hell. Up.

Bobby V: That’s cool. Hey did Kevin say he takes crap from Santa?


Ok guys, let’s get out there and give those Rangers a lesson in playing baseball. Focus on just playing baseball. Although if anyone happens to know where I can get my hands on a 1918 Inverted Jenny stamp I’d be greatly appreciative.

Bobby V: 1918? Didn’t we win in 1918? I remember playing that World Series. My Red Sox beat Theo and his Cubbies.

My Most Imaginary Friend

  1. sportsattitudes permalink

    Great post. I felt like I was THERE for each conversation…inverted as they were…

    • Thanks. Although the Sox may well need some less hypothetical counselling after this morning’s absolute belting by the Rangers. On the plus side for you we have the Phillies in May – Should help you out of that offensive drought.

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