Tag Archives: Larry Lucchino

2015 Postmortem: The Weirdest Red Sox Season in Recent Memory

Red Sox rookie day dress up

We don’t know if 2015 will go down as the weirdest season in Red Sox history. But it has to be up there, all things considered. What began as just another season with a modest amount of promise thanks to some high-profile free agent signings and a core of young, budding stars has ended with an organization undoubtedly in a state of flux.

It’s quaint now to think back to spring training and the early portion of the season.

In April, we all have a few chuckles at the not-so-spry Pablo “Panda” Sandoval and the awkward existence maintained by “outfielder” Hanley Ramirez. Mookie Betts makes a memorable catch in the Opening Day win at Fenway and, briefly, things seem to be on track. The team’s electrifying youth will commingle with dependable veterans to win 90-plus games en route to the postseason. The pitching is bad but it could only get better and eventually more of the hitters will hit…right?

Things get a little more suspect in May. Unfortunate suspicions that we conveniently dismissed in April start to be confirmed.

Kung Fu Foul Ball King Pablo Sandoval is slapped on the wrist for looking at racy Instagram photos while using the bathroom during the middle of a game. (Later in the summer, the Sox forge ahead unironically with “Social Media Day.”) *Speaking of Panda, late in the year Sean McAdam very depressingly sums up how Year 1 wentI’ve lost track of the number of games from which Sandoval has been removed this season for either “dehydration” or “lightheadedness. 

The first few weeks of summer bring no additional heat to the lineup. Offense remains anemic. In related news, Brock Holt is the team’s lone All-Star Game participant.

From there, things get weird.

The Shocking

In August, manager John Farrell announces he has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Torey Lovullo takes over manager duties for the rest of the season.

It is both touching and maddening that in the subsequent two games the team scores a combined 37 runs. You can arbitrarily select any number of week-long stretches when the team didn’t manage to crack the 30-run threshold. In May, the team scored 82 runs in 29 games.

The Not-So-Shocking

Larry Lucchino announces he will step down as CEO of the Boston Red Sox at the end of the season.

Shortly thereafter, the Red Sox oust Ben Cherington by hiring Dave Dombrowski – a move that they wind up announcing during the late innings of a weeknight game at Fenway Park in mid-August. The team is taken aback by Cherington’s unwillingness to accept a lesser role in the front office under Dombrowski’s watch.

The Shocking – Part 2

In a move that stuns fans and media alike, NESN announces in late August that Don Orsillo is done after the 2015 season. He will be replaced by Dave O’Brien next year.

During the following homestand, Dan Shaughnessy – of all people – ‘reports’ that fans trying to bring signs into the ballpark in support of Orsillo were forced to relinquish them before going into the game. The Boston Globe posts this fact on its online edition the evening before and then removes that throwaway tidbit from Shank’s column in the following morning’s print edition. The paper cites weak sourcing (it’s definitely weak something…), but it seems more than plausible that John Henry, rumored to have less affection for Orsillo than foot-out-the-door Lucchino, had an associate make a friendly call into the newsroom that Henry technically owns.

Keeping up with its classy reputation, NESN refuses to air a tribute to Orsillo played on the scoreboard at Fenway Park during the team’s final home game of the season. The following week, news leaks that Orsillo will be heading to San Diego to do TV and radio play-by-play for Padres games.

The Unlucky

Knuckleballer Steven Wright, smack in the midst of what may be his most extensive shot to prove himself as a viable major league starter, goes on the 7-day disabled list after getting hit in the neck by an errant flyball while warming up before a game in Miami.

Statistical Weirdness

– In the final home series of the season against the Orioles, the Red Sox pitching staff puts together three straight shutouts. It’s been more than half a century (1958) since the team has pulled off the feat.

– After proclaiming himself a Cy Young candidate in the offseason, then pitching poorly enough to be removed from the rotation at one point in July, Joe Kelly returns to a starting role in late July to reel off wins in eight straight starts–something that was last achieved in the major leagues by Pedro Martinez in 1999. It was during Kelly’s streak, by the way, that Pedro Martinez was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Red Sox retired his number.

– It is reasonable to assume that Kelly’s streak of success will serve as the most remarkable and unexpected of the season. Surely, no one else will put together a Pedro-esque stretch. But of course, in September Rich Hill returns to the team  and starts getting the ball, reeling off three straight 10-strikeout performances. He allows three earned runs in his first 23 innings as a starter since 2009. It is the first time since 1900 a pitcher debuts in September and strikes out 10 batters in three straight games.

The Uncomfortable

In September, David Ortiz hits career home run No. 500 and later reveals via The Players Tribune that he dreams of becoming a porn star. It’s probably for the best that these types of revelations slip through the cracks with little fanfare with the season now five-plus months old and football season is under way.

Runner up: Hanley Ramirez’s left field.

The Shitshow Red Sox Alum

Curt Schilling signs on to host the first ever sleepover at Fenway Park, part of an Airbnb promotion. This is bad enough on its own, but unfortunately there’s much more.

The week prior to the scheduled sleepover on September 2, he is taken off Little League World Series coverage on ESPN for posting images on his Facebook page of Adolf Hitler while talking about Muslim extremists. It is arguable if this chain of events involving the once proud Sox alum is even the most discussed of the year. In the spring, he fought off social media bullies in the name of defending his daughter. This is all a roundabout way of saying Curt Schilling should stay off the goddamn Internet for a while. Schilling is eventually relieved of his sleepover appearance duties.

The Shitshow Red Sox Alum, Runner Up

Jonathan Papelbon. Another former Boston postseason hero further disgraces himself by trying to choke out Bryce Harper, his new teammate on the Nationals and MVP candidate, doesn’t run out a pop-up.

Papelbon and Harper

Media Think Piece

The best piece of investigative reporting related to the Red Sox shows up in the dead zone of late summer in the form of a ridiculously long Grantland.com feature detailing the rise and fall of the low level drug dealers who managed to capitalize the most on the Yankees Suck T-shirt craze circa 1998-2004. The story discusses at length its backdrop–the formerly seedy Fenway/Landsdowne neighborhood, where it was especially fitting that a rogue vulgar T-shirt business could thrive.

Grantland Yankees Suck

It is an especially interesting read, particularly in light of the numerous residential developments and high-end dining establishments that have gentrified the area during the last 15 years. The transformation has been aided in large part by the Red Sox’s ownership and their business ventures and revitalization efforts aimed at keeping the crowds flowing into Fenway.

It only makes sense then, in this season of weirdness, that there is a shooting outside the Fenway ticket office during Labor Day weekend.

 

Steve Horgan Lives…

Mookie Betts’ shutout-saving catch to preserve Rich Hill’s complete game win in the second-to-last game of the season at Fenway Park offers the symbolic hope Red Sox fans need to last the winter. Betts’ highlight reel catches – going toward the bullpen on Opening Day and going into the bullpen in the Fenway Finale – bookend the team’s home schedule and are perfectly suitable takeaway images for the season.

For those in need of something a little more heavy-handed, though, observe the photo below from Sons of Sam Horn’s soxhop411:

Steve Horgan redux Mookie Betts catch

Better days are ahead…

This Winter in Boston Baseballing, 2013 – 2014

Boston enters the final weeks of the Hot Stove stretch having done relatively little tinkering with its roster this offseason aside from resigning Mike Napoli and coming to terms with free agents A.J. Pierzynski and Edward Mujica.

The Red Sox have a number of Top 100 prospects in its minor league ranks who are expected to contribute this season. Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are forecast to see full-time duty while the club also has a few pitchers (Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo) who could be pitching meaningful innings by the summer if the back end of the rotation doesn’t pan out.

Former Superstar Grady Sizemore Signs With Boston
The Red Sox were evidently the only team willing to give Sizemore a significant major league contract. He will earn at least $750,000 and if he somehow supplants Jackie Bradley, Jr. as the starting center fielder and performs well, he could make up to $6 million.

Edward Sutelan writes on FanGraph’s Community page:

The signing of Grady Sizemore is an indication that they are ready to give Jacoby Ellsbury’s former job over to Jackie Bradley Jr., but it also shows that they are prepared with a backup plan in case that doesn’t pan out.  Some would say that Sizemore is hardly a backup plan as he could very well end up injured, which is absolutely true, and that an outfield of Gomes LF, Victorino CF, and Nava RF would happen in the event of Bradley turning out to be a dud.  But with Sizemore comes a tremendous amount of upside.  Five years ago he was a 30-30 player and a gold glover in the outfield.

Boston Rounds Out the Roster
In addition to the Sizemore signing, which generated the most fanfare, the Red Sox also made a series of minor moves to round out the roster, trading Franklin Morales for Jonathan Herrera and making pitcher depth signings in Jose Mijares and Jose Valdez.

Jerry Remy Announces He Will Return to NESN in 2014
In an interview on Monday at the station’s headquarters, the NESN color analyst said that as recently as December, he thought he was finished. However, he has had a change of heart since the New Year as family and friends implored him to come back.

Ortiz Gives Bizarre Interview With A Dog on his Lap
Boston may as well accept that Ortiz’s heroics and prolonged popularity allot him a unique amount of leverage. He is unlikely to ever be OK with entering a given spring with his current contract due to expire six months later. His public ploy for another extension is absolutely an opportunistic money-grab. But, really, what is it worth pride-wise for the organization to take a hard line?

One of these years, Ortiz is going to lose enough bat speed and become a lousy hitter. At that point, he will become a sunk cost, dead money on the Sox payroll. But it’s at least worth noting, as Pete Abraham noted on Boston.com earlier this week, for all his contributions to the club’s success, Papi’s salary has averaged only about $10 million per year over the past decade. The amount of cash it will take to forego this annual conversation until, probably, next spring amounts to a rounding error for the team. And it’s hard to argue that it sets a dangerous precedent because nobody else is David Ortiz. He is the only guy who can get away with this kind of yearly posturing. As the team has come to find out, he damn well knows it.

And of course, Papi looked especially villainous during this latest round of posturing thanks to giving his interview with WBZ while holding a small dog in his lap a la Dr. Evil.

Ortiz with dog on lap

The Red Sox Sit Out the Masahiro Tanaka Madness
Los Angeles, New York and Chicago were reportedly the three most active bidders in the Tanaka sweepstakes. The Yankees’ 7-year, $155m deal with Tanaka screams desperation. New York probably would have been smarter to sign a few shorter-term stopgap deals to insure themselves against injury and age (i.e. bring in Stephen Drew to spell the inevitable absence of Derek Jeter). But the tactic of signing Tanaka underscores that New York can’t afford to just be pretty good with marginal names. It needs cache and name recognition.

Red Sox fans should be thrilled that a rival AL East team signed Tanaka as he is a good bet to be one of the most exciting pitchers to watch during the upcoming half decade or so. And all the while, the move isn’t likely to garner New York any competitive advantage over Boston.

Larry Lucchino Renews His Favorite Narrative
In the wake of New York’s deal with Tanaka, Lucky Larry just couldn’t resist belly-aching over the Yankees’ seemingly endless budget. Lucchino makes these comments just about every time Boston’s AL East rival announces a splashy free agent signing.

As David Schoenfield mused Tuesday on ESPN, life is “tough for small-market Red Sox”:

Even in 2013, when the Red Sox trimmed their Opening Day payroll from $175 million to $155 million, they had the fourth-largest Opening Day payroll behind only the Yankees, Dodgers and Phillies. They’re not exactly the Pirates or A’s here.

For all the accolades given to the Red Sox for their 2012-2013 offseason when they went after second-tier free agents like Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes, let’s be honest here: They still bought those players. You don’t think the Pirates are smart enough to know they could have improved their club this winter with a couple of strategic free-agent signings? You don’t think the Rays would just once want to sign a free agent that costs more than the Red Sox pay for a part-time left fielder?

It’s difficult not to take Lucky’s comments as the kinds of pointed opinions PR-minded dudes like Lucchino employ to rile up its bottom line – the ticket-buying, apparel-purchasing section of the fanbase. We have a difficult time thinking he even truly believes it. The Yankees more or less bought a World Series in 2009 but have otherwise seen very little correlation between success and bloated contracts, payrolls or luxury tax payments.

Lucchino only further exposes himself as a phony – if that’s even possible at this point – when he comes out with such a disingenuous assessment of other teams’ fiscal behavior – especially in matters relating to the rival Yankees. The Red Sox boast a top 5 farm system right now – maybe even vying for one of the best depending who you ask. It has a lot of young talent that will be price-controlled and will likely mitigate any need to make the kinds of nine-figure signings the Yankees and other big market clubs like Anaheim have been inking lately.

Based on this enviable position, the team will almost certainly use the savings to supplement that talent by overpaying some higher-visibility, recognizable free agents and to looking toward various contract extensions with marketable superstars (Lester, Ortiz, etc.) already on the roster.

The money has been there ever since the John Henry regime took over in 2002. There is no reason why this ballclub, with three World Series championships in 10 years next to just one for New York, needs to falsely pump itself up as some kind of model for relative fiscal restraint.

As shown in the chart below, the payrolls for the Yankees and the Red Sox are indeed in a different stratosphere. However, averaging Tampa Bay, Toronto and Baltimore’s yearly payroll (the black line), Boston is clearly trending closer and closer toward the ceiling set by New York and distancing itself from the other three teams in the division.

AL East Payroll 2002 to Present

Translating Larry Lucchino’s Answers During Today’s Boston.com Q&A

Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino stopped by Boston.com on Thursday afternoon to answer fans’ questions. Ol’ Lucky can be an awfully complicated man and his answers aren’t always crystal clear. So Fenway Pastoral ran them through its proprietary BS Detector to help fans better understand what he is actually saying to fans as free agency season heats up.

The chat began promptly at 1 p.m. By 1:05 p.m., the heavy hitters rolled in (questions have been edited for length and are sic’d):

Q: Larry, Why should I renew my season tickets this year? – Joe

Lucky: This is a critical year for this team. We all recognize that we have a lot to prove. Besides the charm of baseball, you will see a younger team with revitalized leadership. “These will be exciting times; you’ve gotta be there.”

Translation: I might as well get the obligatory usage of the word ‘charm’ out of the way early. Also, I know I’ve often talked about how every year is “critical” and all that, but this time I really do mean it. Honest.

That quotation I randomly popped in there at the end of the answer? That’s the final line of the late John Updike’s legendary poem “Hey Boston Fans: Buy 2013 Red Sox Season Tickets Today!” (I think the original manuscript is on display at the JFK Library or something…).

Q. Lavarnway…Ross…Saltalamacchia…how many catchers are we going to end up with? – Frank

Lucky: There’s an old saying in baseball that you can never have enough pitching. Perhaps we’ll expand that adage to say you can never have enough catching. Besides, “deep depth” is one of our overriding goals.

Translation: I dictated the answer to that question to my assistant by bending down and rapidly opening and closing my butt cheeks Ace Venture-style. You like?

Q. Is this ownership group looking to sell the Red Sox? – Adam

Lucky: Absolutely not. Next question.

Translation: Sigh…PR 101, my friends. Deny firmly and move on. Child’s play. Class dismissed.

Q. Larry, do the Red Sox have a set team salary figure in mind for 2013 or is it a “wait and see” approach to feel out the market and save bullets for next year should there not be attractive opportunities to add to the team this offseason? – Guest

Lucky: Yes we do, but it’s not for public dissemination. You can be assured that we intend to write some big checks if it helps the team in the short and long-term.

Translation: Funny you mention bullets, Guest…Because receiving Red Sox tickets as a holiday gift is like getting shot by a slew of bullets fired out of the automatic assault rifle of awesomeness. Instead of 2012’s “We’re all in” slogan, next year’s will be “They’re (as in bullets) all in.” Or would it be “all out” since they’re being fired at you? I don’t know. Whatever.

Q. …Will there be an emphasis placed on developing the “home grown” player such as in the past with the development of players like Pedroia, Lester, Bucchholz, Ellsbury and more recently with Middlebrooks or will the Red Sox continue to aggressively pursue the high priced FA? – Bill

Lucky: The key to success in baseball is drafting, developing, promoting, and retaining homegrown talent. We will never rule out free agency, trades, waiver-wire transactions, or anything else, but scouting and player development will be the rock on which the Red Sox church is built going forward. Btw, it adds an extra dimension to baseball to watch young, hungry players develop and perform.

Translation: Hey Bill, what’s that behind your ear? Here, let me reach back there and see if I can grab that. Ah, there it is…yup, just as I suspected – a coupon for 10% off your entire purchase at the RedSox.com shop! Buy yourself a licensed Will Middlebrooks jersey and shut the hell up.

Q. Larry – it appears that ownership is distracted by its other enterprises – e.g., -Stan Papi

Lucky: John and Tom have made a fundamental commitment to the Red Sox 11 years ago. During that time, they have been engaged in some other activities, but nothing has been as central to them as the success of the Boston Red Sox. They are both passionately committed to winning and determined to get the Red Sox back to our rightful place in the American League.

Translation: Nice try, Stan. But nobody is interested in the details provided after that ‘e.g.’. So I cut ‘em out. Another fundamental rule of good PR – never deal in specifics. Reframe the question so its answer is unassailable.

Q. I never understood why the NFL, a fast-paced winter sport, utilizes cheerleaders while baseball, a slow-paced summer sport doesn’t. How about some Sox cheerleaders this summer? – NeedCheerleaders

Lucky: Not gonna happen. Cheerleaders aren’t part of baseball culture or Red Sox tradition.

Translation: Like the sign says, pal: No Pepper (and No Perverts either…).

Q. Hi Larry, Can the fans expect more trades or free agent signings this off season? It appears we have the assets to gain more in trade than what is currently impactful on the free agent list. – Greg D

We will pursue all avenues to make this team stronger in the short-term yet built for the long-term. That includes more discrete free agent activity, as well as an appetite for trading assets

Translation: Canned answer alert! People have been asking me this question for two months. The words just kind of hiss right out of me like a good long fart.

Q. Larry, is any thought being given to addressing some of the PR pressure to deal in a more straightforward manner with the sell-out streak and to consider using Sweet Caroline in a more limited fashion? – greenmonster05

Lucky: The fans started this sell-out streak in 2003 and will end it. This argument over definitions is a little silly in my opinion. No matter how you slice it, we’ve averaged over 37,000 fans per game over the last ten years. That is an impressive expression of passion and commitment by our fans!

Translation: You don’t get to decide when you’ve had enough Sweet Caroline. We do. Thanks for all your great questions, fans!

Thoughts on Boston magazine’s “Red Sox Confidential”

Boston magazine has something for you to read in your local dentist’s office while you’re waiting for that root canal. The long and short of it is that former Boston Globe reporter Doug Bailey wants you to know he worked for the Red Sox for a while:

From the winter of 2001 until the end of 2007, I was a flack for the Sox. In my capacity as senior vice president at Rasky Baerlein, I consulted with the team’s owners about their public relations and strategic communications. For a New England kid, six seasons of reporting to Fenway Park each morning kept me in a constant state of exhilaration. I was the envy of colleagues and family members. I had a badge that gave me total access to Fenway Park at any time. I was present at nearly every major Sox milestone in the first six years of the new millennium — including two World Series. I was on a first-name basis with the top executives and sometimes rubbed elbows with players.

Some thoughts after reading the story:

This is predictable narcissism at its very height. This is autoerotica thinly veiled as autobiography further disguised as expose. The piece is bookended by anecdotes involving Bailey and his career plight as journalist-turned-PR man, including a finish that strives to make Red Sox fanboys cream into their MLB-licensed pajama pants. The centerpiece photo is a gigantic portrait of Bailey himself in the foreground and the true subjects of interest–Larry Lucchino’s PR machine, the extraordinarily successful Red Sox, etc.–in the distant background.

The attempted potshot at Nomar was brutally pathetic. Even by Boston media standards, a second-hand account of an awkward exchange eights years ago between a professional baseball player and a NASA astronaut isn’t nearly as offensive as Bailey would like to think. It hardly qualifies as worthy tangential fodder for a story that aims to shit on the current Boston Red Sox ownership. Nomar Garciaparra, by the way, is retired and last played for the Red Sox more than seven years ago.

The Inside Track ladies are ripping the piece for poor ethics. Wow, that is rich. Former colleagues are pissed at Bailey for exposing them as scumbags. Gossip columnists are quoting industry insiders and shaking their head at the presumed breach of confidentiality. The sun will rise. The sun will set. Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa will have lunch.

The Boston Red Sox ownership group is reaping what it has sown. John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchiono, et al, climbed the ladder to the top of the popularity food chain as rapidly as a girl who gets breast implants as her Sweet 16 present or, say, a woman who catches the eye of a billionaire at a trendy cocktail bar. They’ve crafted themselves one hell of a hero’s narrative. As par for that course, every former flack, hack, lackey, leech and intern feels owed his or her share of the attention. The irony is that for every ticketholder who may be at Fenway Park this summer because the Red Sox have a Midas Touch when it comes to marketing the team, there are 100 fans who follow the team and pay for tickets because they are entertained and inspired by the players running around on that green spray-painted grass. There is no chicken versus the egg debate to be had here. Boston loved its baseball long before media decided to reminds us of it every damned chance they get. The fact that a former team consultant now believes himself to be part of the story isn’t terribly surprising.

The Red Sox have been at the same address for 100 years. Thank you, Mr. Henry. Thank you, Mr. Lucchino. Thank you, we guess, hard-working PR men. You all have a hand in the ongoing successes.

Now, shut the fuck up for a little while won’t you?

Larry Lucchino to Belichick: ‘Thanks for the assist’

Grady Little’s email to Bill Belichick that appeared on Fenway Pastoral on Monday night was apparently not the only letter sent to the New England Patriots coach by someone with ties to the Red Sox. To wit:

Dear Bill,

That was awesome. It really was. I admit it. I don’t know the first thing about football, but I guess going for it on fourth down deep in your own territory is kind of a big deal, huh? I’ve faked my way through enough cocktail parties during which a football game was on TV to know that we can do just about anything we want this week and the spotlight is going to remain on you.

Originally, our public relations people were thinking the day before Thanksgiving or perhaps the day after for the annual announcement on ticket prices increases at Fenway Park. Now, though? I’m thinking we didn’t raise them nearly as much as we could have.

I know, I know. We’re raising ticket prices in this economy. Deal with it. If we had known you were going to stir such a ridiculous media frenzy, maybe we would have had a trade in place to deal away David Ortiz, too.

Sometimes good fortune just falls into your lap unexpectedly. I’ve gotta tell you, this is one of those rare moments you savor. You guys have stolen the spotlight away from us a number of years during the crucial ‘Hot Stove’ period in late fall and early winter with your perennially competitive, sometimes dominant teams. Unfortunately, the timing has often been quite poor for us. When we make a splash in free agency or via trade, we don’t want it to get swallowed up in the news cycle just because Tom Brady throws four touchdown passes against a mediocre defense.

Other times, though? When we have to issue a regrettable press release that will be construed by some in Red Sox Nation as a slap in the face? Well, let’s just say you’re something of a hero in our PR offices right now. Sure, some of the minions lost some sleep late Sunday night expediting the seat price increases press release. But it was definitely worth it from where I’m sitting.

Looking ahead to next fall, we’ve got a lot of decisions to be made that could be unpopular. If we do have to let Big Papi or Josh Beckett walk, we would definitely  appreciate some help during November sweeps week when the Colts are in town. Maybe next year, you can try a fake punt inside your own 20-yard-line with under two minutes to go?

Like this year, every blowhard and their mother will undoubtedly pontificate on whether or not they agreed with your decision. Meanwhile, we’ll remain Boston’s media darlings no matter what we do. After all, we’re the Red Sox. Face it, Bill, it’s a baseball town. What the hell have you done in the last five years?

Larry Lucchino, Red Sox President and CEO

Sox CEO Lucchino convinced Ellsbury’s baserunning prowess, Pink Floyd album are linked

BOSTON, Mass.—High-ranking Red Sox officials have begun privately prodding team president and CEO Larry Lucchino to seek psychiatric counsel after the PR ace spent most of the recent home stand obsessing over the synchronicity of plays involving Jacoby Ellsbury and cuts from Pink Floyd’s album, Dark Side of the Moon.

 

“This all started after the Red Sox signed Phish to play Fenway Park at the end of May. He’s been talking to a lot of the band’s hardcore fans and seems to have really taken to their culture and lifestyle. These people smoke a lot of marijuana and have been putting a lot of ideas in his head. I haven’t had a normal conversation with him in weeks. All he cares about is ‘what part of the song was playing during that play?’” said a Red Sox employee willing to discuss the incident “only because Lucchino has always been a douche bag toward me.”

 

Lucchino has become increasingly convinced that certain points in the album align in a meaningful way with particular baserunning plays involving Ellsbury such as the young phenom’s straight steal of home plate Sunday night.

 

Lucchino has apparently taken his cue from the popular rumor among the stoner/Phish fan community that Dark Side of the Moon contains parallels to the classic movie The Wizard of Oz when played on repeat. Just as the Dark Side of the Moon’s aural effects sync with the movie’s visuals if the album is started while the MGM lion roars for the third time, Lucchino believes a similar effect can be created if the first track is cued as Ellsbury crosses over the right field foul line during the first inning on his way to center field.

 

“Larry used to spend most of his time schmoozing and didn’t usually pay all that much attention to the game, so we knew there was something wrong when we saw him sitting by himself in the front row of the executive box with huge, sound-cancelling headphones on,” said a second Red Sox official speaking on the condition of anonymity. “The guy looked like Rain Man out there.”

  

Lucchino played the 43-minute album on repeat nearly 20 times overall during the weekend alone thanks to the length of Friday and Saturday night’s games. Lucchino reportedly told anyone who would listen that Ellsbury’s voyage Friday from second base to home plate on a passed ball from Joba Chamberlain unfolded in perfect timing with the lyric “run, rabbit run” from the song “Speak to Me/Breathe.” 

 

Meanwhile, Lucchino claims he knew Ellsbury was going to steal home on Sunday night because the chorus from the instrumental track “On the Run” began playing as the speedy outfielder extended an extremely generous lead down the third base line.  

 

The sources for this story acknowledged that Lucchino’s behavior may be a clever ploy by the prolific marketing guru to drum up attention from marijuana smokers for the upcoming Phish concert at Fenway Park. However, the team is taking surprisingly great pains to keep details of his behavior from the mainstream media. Looking foolishly docile in a series of recent photographs with his new fiance, John Henry certainly did his part to at least temporarily divert attention from the escalating situation. 

 

“Are you kidding me?” asked the higher ranking official. “This has opened a massive can of worms and we are on the verge of desperate. I can already imagine the fallout from this—a minimum of five Dan Shaughnessy columns where he employs a bunch of predictable Pink Floyd lyrical references…Probably a littering of ill-conceived allusions to 60s rock music by those Inside Track cows. I’m pretty sure the front office wants to keep a lid on this one.”

   

“Peter Gammons has already perverted enough classic songs by trying to shoehorn their lyrics into his ESPN columns,” said the other source. “That’s the last thing we need to be promoting.”