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Is Boston the Worst Place to Play?

By Mike Silva ~ October 13th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

I have long admired the city of Boston. It’s a beautiful city that I have visited a few times. I always wish we could see the unity of the sports fans here that occurs in Beantown.

There aren’t Mets or Yankees fans, or Jets or Giants fans; there are Sox fans, Patriots fans, Celtics fans, and Bruins fans. It’s the kind of unity that we will never experience here because of the broad options afforded to us in all the major sports.

With that said, it appears to be a difficult place for athletes to play because of its provincial nature. Because these teams are so much a part of the city’s culture, the exposure can be suffocating. Theo Epstein had a hard time going out in public in recent years and needed security detail at his home. Some believe that exposure was part of his decision to leave for Chicago.

Remember, this is a town that has been accused of racism as well. Kevin Garnett hesitated before accepting a trade to the Celtics. Gary Matthews Jr. said when he was a member of the Angels that Red Sox fans are “ loud, drunk, and obnoxious,” and added that Fenway is “one of the few places you’ll hear racial comments” Torii Hunter had a similar experience as well.

Of course, that is the opposition. What about their own stars? And I am not just talking about the racism claims, but also how they are treated by the fans and media. Bill Russell was always wary of the city. Bill Buckner was crucified because of an error in a World Series game that was tied. Even worse is how the stars are treated on the way out. Over the last decade Pedro MartinezNomar GarciaparraManny RamirezJason Bay, and this week, Terry Francona and Theo Epstein have been assassinated out the door. It was particularly disturbing how the team and media made a big deal about Francona’s divorce and the pain medication he is taking for an injury. Just weeks after TMZ went over the line smearing John Lackey for his own marital problems, the Boston Globe made Francona’s personal life a major part of their story on the Sox collapse. It’s one thing to bash Jason Bay’s defense after he signs a free agent contract with the Mets, but it’s another to accuse a man of “pill popping.” Basically, it appears you can’t leave Boston with your character intact.

Curt Schilling has never been afraid to speak his mind. Despite being a former Sox, Schilling has been critical of the team since early September. He predicted the collapse, angering former teammate David Ortiz in the process. Schilling said yesterday on ESPN that he believes it starts “at the top” with owner John Henry and team president Larry Lucchino. Funny, Lucchino was the one who first accused the Yankees of being “the evil empire,” but despite the Yanks arrogance they never cross the line when it comes to their players. You leave the Bronx, regardless of what you did here, with your name in good standing. Look at Carl Pavano; despite signing him to one of the worst contracts in team history in 2004, Brian Cashman considered bringing him back this past winter after a solid season in Minnesota. You could never do that in Boston.

Even worse is how the media is a willing accomplish in the assassination. There are many good writers in Boston, but it seems they are more interested in doing ownership’s bidding. You think all the talk about how lousy Jason Bay was in the outfield after he signed with the Mets was a coincidence? Instead of just moving on from Bay’s decision they elected to take a shot at the Mets as well. Behavior like that appears to be more personal, and we know that all members of the mainstream media leave their fandom at the door once they work in sports for a living (wink). If it is professional, then all I could think is the city’s scribes are more than willing to accommodate the home team’s message, which to me is the kind of stuff they accuse fan blogs of doing.

Schilling wondered how this will impact free agency. If you are an African-American player and call up Carl Crawford and ask him about his experience, what will you think he will say? You think he wishes he gave Anaheim a chance to counter the Sox offer? I wonder how the next six years would look for Crawford on the left-coast instead of Boston. You think John Lackey is going to endorse playing in Boston? We know money rules when it comes to free agency, but all things being equal where would you go? New York or Boston? Maybe now you see why Mark Teixeira and his wife elected to sign with the Yankees.

I admire the passion of the sports fans of Boston. I think the media allows their inner fandom to show in the coverage of the team. It’s good they have passion (wish some of the guys here had their passion), but it’s bad when it clouds their analysis. Even worse if they are doing the bidding for the organization they cover. If someone asked me two descriptors of the Boston media I would immediately “sour grapes” and “pom poms” come to mind. Actually, I admire Gordon Edes, who wrote about how the team smears its stars on the way out. The list is longer than just some of the names I mentioned. More scribes in that town should start to

Theo Epstein and Terry Francona had their issues. It probably was time to leave as it’s hard to see how either could have dealt with the fallout from the collapse. Since you can’t trade many of the players responsible, a fresh start at the top will fumigate some of the smell left over.

Maybe the town will eventually forgive Epstein and Francona. After all, they gave Pedro Martinez a rousing ovation when he returned in 2006. Bill Buckner was eventually forgiven, although it took a World Series championship to soften everyone up.

I use to think Philadelphia was the worst place to play. New York isn’t any picnic either. It appears I have been wrong. They may not boo Santa Claus, but the members of Red Sox Nation certainly are making a case that Beantown isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be.


I thought A.J. Pierzynski did a nice job with his in-game analysis during Game 4 of the ALCS. You can check out my thoughts over at Sports Media Watchdog and read what annoyed me about the FOX broadcast.


David Ortiz, a free agent, told the media he’s tired of the drama in Boston. When asked about whether he would consider the Yankees, he sounded intrigued about the possibility.

I say no thanks David. Again, signing Ortiz would be a move to win the offseason and make a headline in the newspapers. The Yankees would regret it almost as soon as the ink dried on the contract. They already have a 35-year old DH and his name is Alex Rodriguez.

As temping as Ortiz’s lefty power is when you combine it with the short Yankee Stadium porch you have to pass.

Most important, when Ortiz and his agent Fernando Cuza call, would someone lock Randy Levine in the closet?


Did you know that John Henry blamed Terry Francona being “in a rush” for the reason he fell on his yacht and was unable to attend Francona’s press conference to announce his departure.

You can’t make this stuff up if you tried.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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5 Responses to Is Boston the Worst Place to Play?

  1. Ken Bland

    You know what life’s about? Not doing too many overreactions in a row. Boston wasn’t such a bad place to play until about 6 weeks ago. The 18 wheeler running over the city’s collective sports fan’s heart probably makes it seem worse than it is. Maybe the worst places to play are where they just don’t care. Not that the pressure cooker environment is necessarily fun, mind you, but it can be what you make of it. And even that can change. It’s really up to Carl Crawford as to what mindset he wants to pursue.

    My wild guess is that whatever straws were broken before Theo patched it up around ’08 when he first resigned were never thoroughly overcome, and that was at the root of his willingness to move on as much as anything. Well below the surface type stuff. But some anonymity in the beginning in Chitown might indeed be a welcomed event.

  2. Stu B

    “I always wish we could see the unity of the sports fans here that occurs in Beantown.”

    Boston’s city population is less than 700,000 and NYC’s is more than 8 million. That alone makes them two completely different animals.

  3. Chuck

    Joe Buck asked Francona, on air during Game Two, which was the toughest place to manage, Boston or Philadelphia.

    Without hesitation, Francona said Philly.

    Having worked closely with both media outlets in the past, I can say without question I NEVER heard the Philadelphia media say anything close to what those Boston hacks said about Francona over the past couple of days.

    To say Francona lost the clubhouse because of drug addiction is not only reprehensible, it’s libelous.

  4. tnt1528

    gee boston=,irish racist town, players drinking beer, who would have thought…whats next ..

  5. danlb

    In Chicago, where I am, Theo will have a tough time. Not with the fans so much—they might make him a cult hero of sorts—but the team owners will probably suffocate him. They care much more about turning a profit than about winning.

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