October 23, 2003

It Sure Helped Sell A Lot Of Papers. What's the use of saying I'm not writing about Gump Little any more when the wound remains raw and any news about the Idiot gets me riled up? But at least this is good news. Grady is now saying he may not want to come back to Boston: "I'm not sure that I want to manage that team. That's how I felt when I drove out of town. If they don't want me, fine, they don't want me. If they want me to come back, then we'll talk and see if I want to come back up there."

Red Sox brass have not spoken to Gump since he returned home to North Carolina. That is also a good sign. As soon as the World Series is over, John Henry should announce that because Grady Little has expressed reservations about returning to the Red Sox in 2004, the club has elected to not pick up his option and has begun searching for a new manager. That would be the best solution.

In a pre-game chat back on October 9, Gordon Edes said that "if [Grady] doesn't get what he wants, he'll walk away. It will take more than the Sox exercising his option to keep him." Little was apparently hoping for a 2-year extention and an increase in salary. There is 0% chance of that happening now. If Grady is brought back, it will be for 2004 only and I don't think he'll want to be a lame-duck manager for the entire season, dealing with hostile fans and a media waiting for his to screw up.

Gump remains clueless. He made what might be the worst managerial decision in the history of the Boston Red Sox and he refuses to take responsiblity for it. He refuses to say "I made a mistake." He continues to say it was the right thing to do and he'd do it again (so you know that if given the chance next April, he'd leave Pedro in for 150 pitches just to prove he was right). He also blathered on about ghosts and curses as if he's auditioning to be Dan Shaughnessy's writing partner.

1. "Right now I'm disappointed that evidently some people are judging me on the results of one decision I made -- not the decision, but the results of the decision. Less than 24 hours before, those same people were hugging and kissing me. If that's the way they operate, I'm not sure I want to be part of it."

Philly Sox Fan, a poster at Sons of Sam Horn, wrote: "No obsessive fan can ever be satisfied by his team's manager." It is next to impossible to judge a manager's performance without watching him closely every single day. So while I'm sure there are people out there thinking that Little is being hung for one move that didn't pan out, fans who have followed the Red Sox intensely have been frustrated and furious at Gump for two entire seasons. The failure to pull an exhausted and ineffective pitcher was a mistake Gump made time and time and time again during his tenure, up to and including John Burkett in Game 4 of the ALDS. Tim Daloisio looks at a similarly gruesome Pedro inning, also against the Yankees.

And through it all, Gump showed absolutely NO ability to learn from any of his mistakes. In fact, he rarely, if ever, admitted that they were mistakes. I don't think Grady ever said "It was my fault" after a loss. His comments were always "We trust Player X" or "Player X was the best guy to have out there," making the failure not the initial decision, but the player's ability to come through, even though the player probably shouldn't have been put in that situation to begin with. This was a huge problem with the bullpen all season. Grady had no clue how to use the pen in April and after July, with a nearly new cast of pitchers, he still couldn't make it work. As one fan put it: "Ultimately, his worst quality appears to be a total inability to recognize and understand his own mistakes. That's a very common characteristic of mediocre people. People who truly excel in their chosen fields know when they've screwed up and know that they must constantly work on correcting their faults."

2. "I know that wherever I go, I'll do the best I can. I know what we did there. I'm sorry the results of one decision caused so much pain, and it sure helped sell a lot of papers. I feel bad for it. But gol'dang, I can't turn back the clock and make another decision, not knowing whether the results of that decision are good or not."

Did he really say gol'dang? Wow. ... Sorry Red Sox fans, them's the breaks, but did you see the way the Globe and Herald flew off them thar newsstands? What an idiot. Gump still thinks he's being second-guessed. He's dead wrong. Millions of Red Sox fans were screaming at him at the very beginning of the 8th inning and their screaming only got louder as the Lump on the bench watched the game (and pennant) slip away. The Red Sox (like every single team) lost games in which reasonable decisions went awry, and fans (like Portland Sox Fan) accept those losses: "Had the Sox lost with the pen used as it had been all playoffs, I could have lived with that." It's the avoidable losses that come from obvious (and repetitive) blunders that are hard to take.

3. "Just add one more ghost to the list if I'm not there, because there are ghosts. That's certainly evident when you're a player in that uniform. ... If Grady Little is not back with the Red Sox, he'll be somewhere. I'll be another ghost, fully capable of haunting."

If Gump believes in ghosts and curses, that's enough reason to dump him right there. He also said after Game 7 that his players had thoughts of Bill Buckner in their minds. Why is he saying this bullshit? And Grady thinks he'll haunt the Red Sox in future seasons? What can you say to something like that?

4. "You've got to win the World Series in Boston before it's considered winning."

There's some partial truth here, especially this year, when the current Red Sox team is capable of winning the World Series. But this quote also reinforces Grady's Little League mentality that playing a good, hard game should be enough. It's not. It's not enough in the Bronx and it's not enough in Boston. I want my team to have a manager who relishes the pressure and will fight for as many wins as possible, who will put his players in the best position to win, and make decisions based on the good of the team and not any individuals.

5. "[T]his ain't bothering me like it's bothering a lot of other people. I'll tell you right now, I did the best I could do, and I still think [his handling of Martinez] was right. Baseball people think that -- maybe not Red Sox fans -- but baseball people tell me over and over. But in Boston, it's not just this one decision, or just one game. It's like this in May. People are talking about devastating losses, and it's the end of April or first of May. That's serious stuff. You don't play 162 games. You play 162 seasons a year. Every game is a season. That's why this doesn't affect me like it does a lot of people."

I wish Gump would tell us the names of these "baseball people" who believe he didn't make a mistake. I haven't seen anyone defend him (Torre and McKeon made bland statements), so I think they are as real as the ghosts in Gump's head.

Gump's biggest fault in my eyes is that he managed Game 7 like it was April 16 and not October 16. "Oh well, we'll get 'em tomorrow." No, there is no tomorrow, it's Game 7, you have to go all out to win THIS game. But he didn't try to win every game, that was clear numerous times this season when he seemed to concede defeat if the team was down by 3-4 runs after 6-7 innings. Which would be maddening under any circumstance, but with the strong Red Sox offense this year, it is unforgivable. ... And now Gump's saying "it's not just this one decision" after saying the exact opposite for days? Which is it, you pennant-flushing moron?

Sean McAdam reports that a "high-ranking official in baseball, one familiar with the thinking of the Red Sox' ownership group, has been telling people that Grady Little will not return as manager of the club." McAdam says it's common knowledge that John Henry did not want Little managing in 2003, but was persuaded by Larry Lucchino to stick with him, adding "In the last two seasons ... Henry is said to take issue with Little's game management and decision-making. Henry favors a more analytical approach in the dugout ... [whereas Little] often rel[ies] on instinct." ... Ed Kubosiak writes that the Game 7 call is "a call the manager has to make. In the same way Sox brass can't leave this decision up to the players in the clubhouse, no matter how much they admire and respect Little. The call has to come from the top, and there is little doubt which way it's going to go." ... Stan Grossfield visits Bill Buckner in Boise, Idaho. ... The Red Sox hired Jason McLeod from the Padres as the director of scouting administration. McLeod worked with Theo Epstein in San Diego. ... Both Boston and the Yankees may pursue free agent 2B Luis Castillo this winter.

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