Checking in with this morning’s Red Sox hyperbole

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I know a lot of Red Sox fans in that way you know people on the Internet. Twitter and message boards and stuff. Most of them are understandably bummed about the team’s start, but almost none of them are wallowing or anything. The consensus is “this is straight shite, but they’ll turn it around.”  It’s a sensible view. The “panic” people refer to at times like these is really media panic. Talk radio and columnists and stuff. And I don’t think they’re really panicking per se, as opposed to just trying to outdo themselves in characterizing how bad things are.

I don’t listen to Boston talk radio, sadly, and my guess is that’s where the best stuff will be today. Hosts trying to top one another in framing the apocalyptic nature of it all while their producers try to find the looniest loon they can find on the phone lines to put on the air.  I mean, if your wish is to get on the radio today, call in to the sports squawk station and say that you think Terry Francona should be fired. You’ll get your air time.

The columnists are doing their part too, even if they’re not quite as nutty. Here are the two best I’ve seen so far. First, Steve Buckley at the Herald, who is proposing — maybe seriously? maybe not? — that the Sox should cancel all the pregame pomp and circumstance today. No flyover, no introductions, no ceremonial first pitch. Just baseball, because we’re all too depressed to do anything else. Or something.  His best line:

The 2011 Red Sox are starting to look like the 1988 Dukakis for President campaign. As in, high hopes followed rather quickly by a disastrous tumble. (Picture Sox GM Theo Epstein riding in the little tank.)

Mr. Buckley: I followed the 1988 presidential election. I knew the 1988 presidential election. In a way, it became a friend of mine. Mr. Buckley, this team is no Michael Dukakis.

Now, over to Dan Shaughnessy, who quite frankly disappointed me with his failure to truly go after it. Most of it is sensible if a bit obvious. I liked this one though:

Any way you look at it, the Sox haven’t been the same since John Henry bought Liverpool FC

I can’t decide if that’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to something that really doesn’t matter but people chatter about anyway or if Shaughnessy is really going with the notion that John Henry’s buy-in to English soccer represents some kind of distraction that has competitive implications for the 2011 Red Sox.  If it’s the former, that’s kind of funny. If the latter: dude, they bought Liverpool in, like, October. I’m going to go out on a limb and say nothing good or bad has trickled down since then.

Ah well. Maybe the columnists will bring their really top-grade stuff on Sunday if the Sox drop the first two of the Yankees series.  Until then … Panic.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.