Friday, June 24

6/24/05 – Sox visit Royal Bank of Scotland Ballpark

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1. Two years ago, the Red Sox made their last visit to Philadelphia and Grady Little made the decision that should have ended his managerial career. In the late innings of a game wherein the Red Sox blew three saves, the bumbling manager waited until after lefty slugger Jim Thome had hit a game tying homer to bring in lefty reliever Alan Embree even though Embree was already warm when Thome came to the plate. You know the details, so Jose will not bother to review them, unless of course, you blocked it out, in which case Jose will not do you the disservice of reminding you. Suffice it to say, the Philly Phanatic came off looking thoughtful and dignified in comparison with Grady that day.

Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry was rumored to be so upset with Grady’s non-move that he wanted to fire him on the spot. His co-owners and general manager thought better of it, however, and talked him out of making such a rash decision. Whoops. So instead of Little’s career being ended by a foolish decision in Philadelphia, it was ended by an even more foolish decision in New York three months later.

And now, as the Red Sox return to Philadelphia with a World Championship under their belt, Jose wonders what, if anything, current Sox manager Terry Eurona could do this weekend that might match Grady’s mistake two years ago and raise such ire in John W. Henry.

• Let Jason Shiell pitch to Thome just like Grady did. If Jason Shiell was on the roster maybe this wouldn’t be such a big deal. But for Tito to let Shiell pitch to Thome, he would have to acquire Shiell by usurping the power of GM Theo Epstein. Launching a coup seems like it might be grounds for dismissal.

• Bring Alan Embree to pitch to Jim Thome. What a difference two years makes. Okay, maybe doing this wouldn’t make Henry want to fire Tito, but Jose can assure you that at no point in this series will he be screaming “bring in Embree” like he did two years ago.

• Urinate on the Liberty Bell. That’s about as offensive and senseless as Grady’s moves two years ago. Of course, as a championship manager, Tito could probably get away with it.
Hmm… maybe there’s nothing Tito could do that would be as bad. Still, one does have to imagine he’ll be put to the test this weekend. Eurona is not a beloved figure in Philadelphia where he managed for four unsuccessful seasons. According to the Boston Globe, he had to park in different places every day out of fear for his safety, and when he returned as a scout, he had a security detail attached to him.

Jose imagines that the fact that he is now a World Series champion will only serve to further antagonize the Philadelphia hooligans. But Jose thinks that rather than ignoring it Tito should embrace it. When he is introduced tonight and the boos rain down, he should take a page from the late wrestling legend “Ravishing” Rick Rude and say “What I’d like right now is for all of you fat, ugly Philadelphia farm animals to keep the noise down while I put on my championship ring so the ladies can see what a real manager looks like.

They’re going to hate him either way, so he might as well get some shots in.

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