By Dan Zeigarnik, Patriots Daily Staff
Horrified Boston fans have spent the last couple of weeks watching the disastrous Red Sox collapse in the standings followed by a significantly more despicable fallout. The amount of mud and accusations being slung around is fitting for our politicians but not our beloved sports teams.
If you told me last month that my friends and I would be dressing up as Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and John Lackey for Halloween with the now requisite buckets of fried chicken and Natty Light as part of the new ‘Red Sox Uniform’ I would tell you that you would have a better chance of firing Tito and letting go of Theo.
So now, the Red Sox debacle has gotten me worried about the Patriots and whether or not the team could ever blow up in Bill Belichick’s face to the point of him getting unceremoniously let go by the Krafts.
The skeptics will point to the inherent differences between the NFL and MLB. They will say:
- Contracts are not guaranteed in football, so underperforming players or clubhouse cancers can be cut. While in baseball, fans are forced to shovel Lackey’s abysmal performance down their throats and wonder whether he will outlast this Great Recession.
- There is a salary cap in football, so teams cannot be expected to buy their way into the playoffs. This lowers the expectations for football coaches and gets them a pass from their fans for a bad year hear and there.
The same skeptics will then point to the glaring differences between the Red Sox’s front office whispering and back-stabbing campaigns and the Patriots sense of one-voice camaraderie. They will say:
- Theo has always had a rocky relationship with the owners. He even left one year.
- Tito was not a pure numbers guy like both the ownership and Theo would have liked him to be, and therefore there was always a bit of a disconnect.
- Belichick and Bob Kraft seem to be a team, much like Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth or Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They depend on each other for success and it wouldn’t be the same if they were separated.
- Belichick is a ruthless leader who garners respect by not taking any slack from anyone, while Tito is a ‘players coach’ which is a euphemism for letting them police themselves.
Despite all of this, I am still worried. I’m reminded of one of my favorite political quotes:
“In retrospect, all revolutions seem inevitable. Beforehand, all revolutions seem impossible.”
— Michael McFaul, National Security Council
In the aftermath of a second World Series victory in 2007, no one could imagined that in four short years, Manny Ramirez would be shipped out of town, that Theo Epstein would be described not as a wunderkind, but as a whiny “can’t go out to dinner in public” punk who forced bad free agent acquisitions down the owner’s throats. Could you have dreamed that loyal Tito, who took the team to the promised land twice, would be accused of being an unmotivated and undedicated, painkiller-addicted man whose marital problems got in the way of his job? This is before we even get to the fact that three starting pitchers refused to even watch the games, and instead chose to eat fried chicken, guzzle beer, and play video games in the clubhouse, away from their teammates.
Ever since Bill Belichick benched Drew Bledsoe in favor of Tom Brady, the motto “In Bill we trust” has been the standard cry from fans. However, with no championship rings since 2004 and a golden-boy quarterback in his ‘twilight years’ there is no predicting how the next few years will play out. Brady could have a falling out with his coach, or have another severe injury that will finally spell the demise of the team. Or Belichick’s poor drafting will continue and the team decides to go another route.
Obviously nobody even wants to consider any of these horrible turn of events, but regardless of how it will all go down, it’s important to consider how fragile any state of affairs is and how quickly things can disintegrate into debauchery. Despite this gloomy cloud over the future of the team, it makes me that much more appreciative of the current Patriots’ 5-1 record and enjoy these transient moments of success all the more.