It was a relatively tame weekend in local sports. Sitting down at the keyboard Sunday, it was hard to choose the best topic . . .
We finally had something interesting happen in the World Baseball Classic. Saturday’s Canada-Mexico brawl was by far the most riveting moment in the boring history of the event. Those of us who’ve been around the Red Sox’ Alfredo Aceves completely understand the words of Canada’s first base coach, Larry Walker, who said, “I had a hold of him [Aceves] and I thought I saw Satan in his eyes.’’
The Celtics gave it a good run at Oklahoma City Sunday afternoon but succumbed, 91-79. Watching the game only confirmed that what was true in 2011 is true today: The Celtics would be better with Kendrick Perkins than with Jeff “Gandhi” Green (8 points, 2 for 11 from the floor, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 3 turnovers in 28 minutes).
Liverpool had a big win over Tottenham in Premier League play Sunday.
In “other” Sox news, David Ortiz has inflammation in both heels and is being shut down for at least another 5-7 days. Red flags all over the place on that one.
But as easy as it would be to launch into any of those stories, something else cries out for commentary.
Wow. This guy just can’t stop.
Last week Carl told Danny Knobler of CBSsports.com, “I took so much of a beating in Boston, I don’t think anything could bother me anymore . . . They love it when you’re miserable. Burying people in the media, they think that makes a person play better. That media was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.’’
Any of you scratching your head over this one?
Let’s start with the fact that Carl gladly signed a seven-year, $142 million contract and delivered nothing. He was never the player that he had been when he played against the Sox. He was soft and often injured. He didn’t hit, didn’t get on base, didn’t steal bases, and became a subpar defender. It was all bad.
And despite all that, we cut him slack. Fans and media. We pumped his tires. We noted how much he cared, how hard he tried. We discouraged booing the guy. Poor Carl. Don’t blame him.
Now he comes back and says the media was the worst thing he’s experienced in his life?
Nobody ever ripped this guy.
You want to see tough, Carl?
We’ll show you tough.
In 1940, Hall of Fame scribe Harold Kaese blasted Ted Williams for being jealous of Jimmie Foxx. Kaese accused Williams of “extreme selfishness, egoism, and lack of courage,’’ then added, “it probably traces to his upbringing. Can you imagine a kid, a nice kid with a nimble brain, not visiting his father and mother all of last winter.’’ When Williams went fishing during the birth of his first child, Kaese wrote, “Everyone knows where Moses was when the lights went out. And apparently everybody knows where Ted Williams was when his baby was born here yesterday. He was fishing.’’
And Kaese (who worked for the Transcript and the Globe) was one of the good guys.
The estimable Bob Ryan once wrote a column in which he suggested Sox pitchers Reggie Cleveland and Diego Segui take a trans-Atlantic flight with Amelia Earhart at the controls.
I know this will be hard for some of you to believe, but I, myself, have at times been harsh. When Robert Parish struggled through a brief playoff slump, I called him, “Basketball’s Mr. October.’’ Sox reliever Steve Crawford was “as effective as a sack of doorknobs.’’ For refusing to acknowledge a bunt sign, Jose Offerman was characterized as a “piece of junk’’ (OK, over the line on that one).
It happens. We are tough on professional athletes in this town. Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, and Wade Boggs all were ripped here and all are enshrined in Cooperstown. Nomar Garciaparra was ripped (only at the end). Manny Ramirez was ripped (only when he quit). Pedro Martinez was rightfully colored as a “diva,” and Roger Clemens was regularly insulted. Comparing the amazing skill sets of Messrs. Clemens and Martinez, I wrote, “On top of everything else, Pedro Martinez even speaks better English than Roger Clemens.’’
In 1995, horror-meister Stephen King wrote, “There has been a view among many Boston sports figures over the years that the print columnists in Beantown are the most vitriolic east of the Mississippi, hard-hearted inkhounds who enjoy nothing better than breakfasting on a slow-moving basketball forward, lunching on an overpriced quarterback, and dining on a freshly baked DH (did somebody mention Jack Clark?)’’
That was before Rick Pitino said, “the negativity in this town sucks.’’
All true, I suppose.
But absolutely none of this poison was spilled on Carl Crawford. Zero.
Now, about Big Papi . . .