"One day some of the kids from the neighborhood carried my mother's groceries all the way home. You know why? It was outta respect." - Henry Hill, Goodfellas
No respect. No excuse.
Rodney Dangerfield would love the 2012 Red Sox. They get no respect. show no respect and deserve even less.
Cue Aretha Franklin.
The Red Sox spoke for days about the "code of silence" when word came out about the "Malice in the Palace" in New York last month. If John Henry had been up on his "Goodfellas" or "Godfather" parlance, he would have known the word is "Omerta" The "code of silence" is big in the world of Hollywood organized crime. So are "snitches," "getting whacked" and "ending up in the weeds." Red Sox fans are familiar with all those concepts this season - especially the later.
Another big word for the likes of the Corleones, Henry Hill and Frank Costello is "respect." This isn't the "respect" demanded by 22-year-old athletes who have done nothing but signed a big contract after being drafted, or crybaby ballplayers demand when their manager has the nerve to tell them to do something, or even the "disrespect" teams like the Patriots attempt to convey while trying to inspire anger among themselves heading into their latest Super Bowl loss to the Giants.
The respect Billy Bats demanded when he told Tommy to "go home and get your ... shinebox," paid to Don Corleone as he walked through his old neighborhood before he got shot and given to Paulie who "may have moved slow, but it was only because Paulie didn't have to move for anybody" was based on fear and threats of consequences. The wrong gesture might be fatal.
There's another form of old-school "respect" - one that comes from love and admiration. A "respect" for service, age, accomplishment, friendship, loyalty and just plain goodness. David Ortiz, Vicente Padilla, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Clay Buchholz (according to the Boston Herald) understand this simple yet apparently outdated concept. Their teammates do not. Meanwhile, Red Sox fans have been told to get their collective shinebox by ownership and management, who once again trashed those poor fools who got enraged at the nearly team-wide snub of Johnny Pesky's funeral.
We're being told not to make such a big deal out of the fact that only four players from the Red Sox managed to attend Pesky's memorial service on Monday. The Beckett Bowl, that big dinner at Strega North End (which apparently was not affected by Dustin Pedroia's impending fatherhood), the late-night loss in New York on Sunday, the early arrival on Monday, the fact that it fell on a sacred "day off" have all been trotted out as excuses by Larry Lucchino, Bobby Valentine and others for the pathetic and disgraceful turnout by the players. It really doesn't matter if 100 or so front-office personnel turned up to Pesky's funeral. They really had no choice. And they're nameless and faceless minions. The players should have felt a sense of duty to put themselves second to honor the team's elder-statesmen and best shortstop not named Nomar of the past 100 years (he also played second and even some third). They needed to show their collective face.
17 players saw fit to show up at last month's bitch-fest in New York on their off day at roughly the same time of day following an equally late night trip (this one from Texas) that saw the team arrive in New York at 5 a.m. That's 13 more than who paid their respects to Pesky. Even worse, on that infamous Thursday in New York, the highest-paid player on the team - Adrian Gonzalez - earned his "Fan Cave" moniker by showing up at 10 a.m. to plank, hit Wiffle Balls and play video games. So while he got up early to chill in the "Fan Cave" - "Fan Cave" could not be bothered to pull himself out of bed to make it to Pesky's funeral.
But "Fan Cave" did have this to say a few hours before his strikeout ended Thursday's calamitous 14-13 loss to the Angels in 10 innings. He told ESPN Deportes Los Angeles - "In Boston, there is always a novel -- in here they never talk about baseball; it's always the same. That's one of the reasons why I almost never talk to the press here. Very few times they ask me about baseball. But most of the time it's about gossip, rumors, plots, well ... a soap opera."
Or maybe the latest happenings in the "Fan Cave." We won't bother talking about his 1-for-6 performance against the Angels in a game where his team scored 13 runs and lost at home.
The Red Sox do not deserve a pass on this injustice because they've had so many horrible on-and-off-the-field missteps of late. You don't get to skip the funeral of the guy who spent six decades in service to the ball club because of (fill in the blank excuse) and escape condemnation just because everyone who doesn't cover the team as their full-time job recently found there was beer in the clubhouse on the road, or that the players failed to fire the manager, or that the Mutineers couldn't even send their own texts, or that they're 29-37 at home, or that Josh Beckett has one victory since May 20 or that Red Sox fans would watch the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland A's, Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers go "Hunger Games" for the two wild-cards if the season ended today.
Piling on? You bet. The Red Sox have been piling on us all season. It's been one disaster after another. Forget the off-the-field hysterics - this team is seven games under .500. There is no margin for error anywhere. Remember 7-20 in September 2011? Meet 6-15 in August 2012.
But it's just a funeral. No big deal, right? Hell, the Red Sox players should have turned out to honor Pesky the Navy veteran, never mind Pesky the Red Sox veteran. Pesky - like so many others - gave up three years of prime baseball to serve his country during World War II. Could you imagine the likes of Beckett or "Fan Cave" sacrificing three weeks for their country? Sure, they both engage in very worthy and laudable charitable endeavors. And Beckett's event was Monday. But who doesn't give to charity? And not many of us are working off guaranteed $68 million or $154 million contracts. The sacrifices make by Pesky and his generation have been blurred by time, history and a culture that worships the contributions of the Kardashians, the latest "kid-crying" video on You Tube and Chad Johnson's Twitter feed.
At least Ortiz - who urged his teammates to attend gets it. "The funeral is the last goodbye you give to a friend. There's no way you're a friend with somebody, that person passes away and you're not going to show up to his funeral," he told WEEI. Ortiz added that Kevin Youkilis - you know that guy who was the root of all the problems with the Red Sox back in the good old days when they were over .500 - was upset he couldn't make the funeral. "It was hard for him to show up," Ortiz said. Not an issue with most of Youkilis' former teammates.
This goes beyond bad baseball. These are basic life skills you teach your children. Class. Dignity. Respect. All outdated concepts - especially on Yawkey Way.
It's hard for most fans to come up with words to describe their disgust for this team right now. It's sickening for so many thinking about what this team has become.
Just about every working adult has taken time off of work to attend a funeral. And no matter how tired you were - there was at least one person there in worse shape than you. Funerals are when people come together - try to forgive and forget their differences - and unite under the common goal of respect, tribute and - often - love for the dearly departed.
The failure of the Red Sox to come together as one and attend Pesky's funeral as a team is just another indication of how dysfunctional this unit has become. It's amazing the lights come on at Fenway each night and the plane leaves Logan full of jet fuel. The fact that all but four of these selfish, arrogant, entitled, soft, spoiled, unprofessional, apathetic individuals saw fit to take the time and effort to do something beyond themselves and pay tribute to someone who deserved it as much as anyone else who had ever worn a Red Sox uniform is almost beyond imagining. Even with this bunch.
Here's one small gauge of the intensity: Jeff Gulko's "Boycott Red Sox Like They Boycotted Johnny Pesky's Funeral" Facebook page had more than 5,000 "Likes" by 1 a.m. after just a day in existence. My favorite comment - from Pat C. who writes: "I'm at the point now I don't even want to show off my Red Sox tattoos."
25 players, 25 cabs. Try 25 players, 21 children, 347 agendas and zero class. Not to mention a game-total 410 pitches, a blown 6-0 lead, an eight-run third inning for Anaheim and the Angels capping off a three-game sweep of the Red Sox Thursday night. For the fourth time - we'll ask and answer this question: "Can it get any worse?" Answer: "Yes, there have been no arrests or PED suspensions."
The best news of the season thus far - Gonzalez and Beckett have been placed on waivers.
There is hope for 2013.
Meanwhile, current situation is hopeless.
Rest in peace, Johnny.
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