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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sox need to do more than just The Trade

Alan Greenwood

Since spring training games are nothing more than practice for the stars and auditions for the would-bes, it is fair to say that the Red Sox have gotten a six-month jump on the contenders as they ponder who should be where and why to open the 2013 season.

This is not meant to denigrate The Trade. By ridding themselves of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, history will consider it one of the greatest transactions in franchise history. It was also cleansing for the front office’s collective soul. ...

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Since spring training games are nothing more than practice for the stars and auditions for the would-bes, it is fair to say that the Red Sox have gotten a six-month jump on the contenders as they ponder who should be where and why to open the 2013 season.

This is not meant to denigrate The Trade. By ridding themselves of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, history will consider it one of the greatest transactions in franchise history. It was also cleansing for the front office’s collective soul.

There is nothing more liberating than addressing your mistakes, doing whatever you can to correct them, and moving on from the scene of the blunders.

Now, over the next 34 games, the Red Sox have a few more things they can do to finish wiping their slate clean.

First, give Bobby Valentine a raise and say that he will be the manager of this nine in 2013. The veteran holdovers cannot be shown too many times that they do not have the power to undermine the manager, whoever that manager may be.

Next season is perfect for sending that message. The odds are fairly strong that the 2013 Red Sox will not be serious championship contenders. In referring to Alfredo Aceves’ hissy fit last Friday night, winning him a three-game suspension, Valentine said, “You’re responsible for your actions and all actions have consequences.”

One of the consequences of fresh starts is that it means limiting your chances for immediate success.

For some reason, folks are clamoring to have former pitching coach John Farrell return as manager, even if it requires trading players to Toronto, his current employer, for the privilege.

That would indicate a new day dawning, but the long term benefit is questionable.

Specifically, it should be asked, just when did Farrell absorb the ghost of Casey Stengel? The Blue Jays went into their game Monday night in the Bronx with a record of 137-151 under Farrell.

And, if memory serves, the Red Sox pitching staff didn’t exactly flourish under Farrell’s guidance at the end of his tenure.

If, for whatever misguided reason, they really want Farrell, wait for his contract to expire next winter and bid for his services then.

Now, for a couple of changes that will do wonders to set this club on the right path:

On Fenway’s second-to-last night of the season, play “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of the eighth inning. For the last game on the home schedule, have a Neil Diamond Demolition Night. Pile CDs, iPods and old-fashioned vinyl just behind second base and let it burn.

The need to wipe “Sweet Caroline” from the Fenway culture crystallized on April 21. After (allegedly) watching the Red Sox give up 16 runs in two innings against the Yankees, the sheep sand and swayed in the middle of the eighth as if that game were not a large clue as to how this lost season would unfold.

Just try to do this without the riots that ruined Bill Veeck’s Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979, a well-intentioned but poorly executed idea that produced a White Sox forfeit.

And, finally, the Red Sox brass should quit fooling themselves, and realize that they are fooling no one outside their front office, over the sham sellout streak. Monday afternoon, it reached 782, dating to May 15, 2003 (a date that is wasting space in New England’s collective memory).

Attendance figures throughout pro sports are based on tickets sold. By twisting the spirit of that rule into a pretzel, the Red Sox have been able to keep announcing sellouts at Fenway, even when, like Monday, a few thousand empty seats are scattered around the old yard.

Note to real fans: Tickets remain available to any game you want. Show up at the ticket office, wait until you hear the National Anthem, and you might even get a discount.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-6427 or agreenwood@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Greenwood on Twitter
(@Telegraph_AlanG).