Bill Simmons is my favorite sportswriter. I know he's not for everyone, so many people might just want to leave the thread now. No hard feelings.
I've been resisting getting and reading his book about the 2004 Red Sox. As much as I like his stuff, I wasn't sure I was ready to read about some other tortured fan base celebrating.
I finally got it and I absolutely loved it. The part that struck me the most was when he said Red Sox fans didn't think about curses or that crap. They just wanted to see a winner. They just wanted to be normal.
There are a couple of lessons from the 2004 team that I think might apply.
The 2004 Red Sox didn't start all that great. They got swept by the Yankees at one point -- the famous series where Jeter nearly broke his face diving after a ball. They needed a shakeup.
All the pieces were sorta there -- Ortiz; Manny; Pedro; Schilling -- but they weren't working.
And they traded Nomar.
Nomar was the most popular player in Boston -- in any sport - in the late 90s. He was their best hitter since Ted Williams (or so we thought at the time)
But he'd become a symbol of futility, and was caught up in contract nonsense and really, wasn't that good any longer.
I thought maybe Kerry Wood was a parallel. Homegrown kid, starts out fantastic, a little star-crossed. But I realize now that, in his prime, Wood wasn't as good at his job as Nomar was at his.
So, now I find myself casting about for the next shakeup. I truly don't believe this team can win the whole thing as constituted now. I think they will patch and muddle and maybe even stagger to a division win, but that's no longer the goal.
So I find myself on a side I never wanted to be on.
Derrek Lee should go.
Not because I think he's all done. Not because I think Micah Hoffpauir is German for Jesus Christ.
But because this team needs a move. Someone previously thought untouchable and who didn't arrive 10 minutes ago.
That means Lee, Ramirez or Zambrano.
Maybe I'm wrong and Wood was enough and we just haven't seen the gelling yet.
But if we're still muddling around in third place (or worse) by July 4, then it's time for the pull-the-trigger blockbuster.