Time for Larry Lucchino to go


Time for Larry Lucchino to go

Yesterday, we learned that Bobby Valentines job is safe.

For now.

That doesnt mean it will be safe next week, next month or by the time youre done reading this column, but as of right . . . NOW, hes here to stay. This according to Sox principal owner John Henry, who sent out an afternoon e-mail blast group name: Media Pals :) in which he expressed an assortment of actual human feelings about this tumultuous season.

On top of his manager, Henry touched on player perception (There has been no lack of effort from our players.), ownership interest (Tom, Larry and I seldom miss a telecast when on the road if we aren't there.) and personal maintenance (A few sprays of WD40 keep my circuits and hinges lubed all day!). But really, this was about Valentine, and on that note, Henry, our virtual angel from Internet heaven, made a lot of sense.

To blame Bobby Valentine for the Red Sox being .500 at this point in the season is simply wrong, he typed (or dictated).

And I agree.

In baseball, managers often get too much credit and too much blame for what happens on the field.

And I agree.

But an organization is much more than the field manager. We all share responsibility for the success and failure of the Boston Red Sox.

Aaaannd I agree, and disagree.

Its true that an organization is much more than the field manager. That the 2003 Sox came within five outs of the World Series with Grady Little pulling the strings provides us with a lifetime of proof. But the second part bothers me:

We all share responsibility for the success and failure of the Boston Red Sox.

Its a cute clich (as was just about everything else Henry said), but in this case its just not true. While its nice to pretend that the Sox are one big happy family that dishes out blame and eats up success in equal portions, history suggests otherwise. Its shown us over and over that while the Sox and this ownership group might win together, they lose in a million different pieces. And per usual, the one man who deserves most of the blame is the same one who consistently deflects it. Who is never held accountable. Who, after a season which saw an epic collapse (internally and on the field) the departure of a GM, the firing of a manager and nearly an entire medical staff, actually RECEIVED AN EXTENSION.

Im talking about Henrys under-handed right-hand man.

Of course, Im talking about Larry Lucchino.

Forget Valentine. Forget Josh Beckett. Forget every other aspect of this franchise that needs to be filtered out before the Sox can return to respectability.

Lucchino's the one who needs to go.

Whether or not his dismissal is realistic (i.e. the extension and Henrys undying devotion) doesnt change the reality: Lucchino's the head of this venomous, poop-projecting snake, and until hes removed, the Sox will stay where they are. Confused. In disarray. Cloaked in organizational mystery, as employees go about their business with one eye on the task at hand and another on the look out for an inevitable dagger between their shoulder blades.

Larry Lucchino runs the Red Sox, Henry said during last years guerrilla radio appearance with Felger and Mazz. And you know what? Hes running them into the ground. Hes made a mockery of a team that so many New Englanders loved so much. HE hired Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington. HE thought that placing these two alter egos atop the franchise flow chart would result in anything but turmoil. HEs the one who didnt have the foresight to recognize that keeping a bunch of Terry Franconas best coaching buddies in the dugout would only add to the difficulty and drama. HEs the one who, in the midst of an awful season that (combined with last September) has left Red Sox fans angrier and more jaded than they've been in nearly a decade, came out with this ridiculous letter to the fans.

I know we all joked and had a good time at the letter's expense, but more than anything that laughter was a coping mechanism. Just a little something to help us deal with how depressing this situation has become; how out of touch ownership has fallen with its real fans. And like with everything else, Lucchino is at the forefront of that issue. He's the source. He's the one making all these miserable decisions, yet his status is never in question.

Now it wouldn't be fair to drop this level of criticism on Lucchino without recognizing all the good he's done for this team. Obviously, his hand in the two titles, but also, the work he's done to preserve and restore Fenway Park. Likewise, while many of the marketing techniques he and his crew have implemented over the years have driven fans crazy, these tactics have also generated obscene amounts of money, and helped the Sox maintain one of the most expensive rosters in baseball. That doesn't mean the team has always used this money wisely, but it's consistently been there, and that has a lot to do with Larry Lucchino. For everything he's not, he is an unquestionably intelligent guy; he's a great businessman.

But what else can he do here?

How many more rings does he need to win?

How much friendlier can he make Fenway? How more beloved can America's already-most-beloved ball park become under his watch? How can he top this centennial celebration?

In terms of marketing, it's clear that his schtick doesn't work anymore. It was a great run; he should be annoyingly proud of everything he did and all the people he brainwashed. But it's over. People aren't buying it. Business has peaked and it's time to move on.

The Red Sox issues aren't a matter of marketing, public perception or historical preservation.

It's about baseball. That's all that's left, and it's the only way to bring the team out of their current funk. They need a clear, cohesive, fresh and innovative baseball strategy. No more power struggles. No more back-stabbing. No more internal chaos.

No more Larry Lucchino.

He needs to step down or step aside.

Right now, that's probably just a pipe dream, but if anything's going to change, that needs to become a reality.

Well, OK. It's about five minutes. Have the Sox fired Bobby V. yet?

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Cubs reach first World Series since 1945


Cubs reach first World Series since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.