Snub doesn't taint Farrell's unforgettable year

Snub doesn't taint Farrell's unforgettable year
November 13, 2013, 12:15 pm
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I’ll get to Red Sox manager John Farrell in a second, but first I want to tell a quick story about Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. It takes place in the third quarter of Monday night’s win over the Orlando Magic, in the moments after Kelly Olynyk was whistled for his fourth foul of the game.
It was an awful call by the ref. One of those plays where a guy takes a shot, there’s minimal contact, and the official basically decides, “OK, if it goes in, I’ll let it slide. If he misses, I’m calling the foul.” It’s just about the worst officiating trend in the NBA. And that’s what happened to Olynyk.
So naturally, Stevens went ballistic.
Well, that’s what we all expected him to do. That’s what a vast majority of coaches would have done, Doc Rivers the most prominent among them. And that’s not a criticism on Doc, because flipping out is an understandable reaction in situations like that, especially with the track record that most NBA refs bring to the table.
But Stevens’ reaction was different in that he didn’t react to the referee at all. Not even a smirk or an angry glare. He ignored him entirely. Instead, immediately after the call was made, Stevens turned his attention to Olynyk. He began clapping and encouraging his young power forward. Letting him know that, regardless of the outcome, he’d done a good job. He’d played it the right way.
It’s all part of a mantra that’s emerged as the major theme of the Brad Stevens Era in Boston, and will continue to pick up steam for as long as the coach is in town. Embrace the process, not the results. Just because things don’t turn out exactly how you want them to, doesn’t mean you went about it the wrong way. Results are often random and fleeting, the process is real and sustainable.
And now, let’s bring it back to John Farrell.
As far as yesterday’s AL Manager of the Year Award goes, Farrell is Kelly Olynyk. The BBWAA is Monday night’s referee. And the city of Boston is Brad Stevens. We have a choice: To waste time and energy flipping out over the result. To spit venom all over the writers and hope to hurt them with words (when in reality, it just makes them more defiant), or stand up and applaud a job well done.
Of course, you can argue that Terry Francona did deserve the award. To do what he did, with the roster and the payroll he was afforded is nothing short of an incredible and certainly worthy of distinction. Then again, there’s this:
While the Manager of the Year voting takes place before the playoffs begin, it also takes place after the playoff field has been decided. And it’s fair to say that had the Indians not snuck into the postseason at the very end, Farrell would have edged Francona. In fact, he definitely would have. No Indians playoff berth, no Francona Manager of the Year. It’s that simple.
And in that sense, you can also argue that the results of one or two September games plus another one or two Texas and Tampa Bay September losses decided the AL Manager of the Year award. I mean, Cleveland didn’t clinch until Game 162. There were so many factors that contributed to their playoff berth: Matt Moore’s injury, Ron Washington’s idiocy. If one or two or any number of other things had played out differently on the last day or two of a six-month season, votes would have changed. They would have. And really, letting what happens on the last day of the season dictate a Manager of the Year vote is no different than changing a foul call based on whether or not a shot goes in. Either it’s a foul or it’s not. Either a guy is your Manager of the Year or he’s not. Anything else is results over process. Which is to say, it’s defendable on the surface, but the deeper you dig, the less sense it makes.
I could keep going, but in this case, I think it’s better to just honor one great Boston manager with a lesson learned from a hopefully-great Boston head coach -- to ignore the call by the BBWAA and simply applaud the entirety of John Farrell’s impressive and unforgettable 2013 season.
Especially when, in this case, the process already delivered the greatest result possible.
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