Red Sox: Where have the colorful characters gone?
The Boston Red Sox have talent but are rather bland. Will they have an injection of colorful characters?
The Red Sox simply lack color. Now in this world today when you toss out color it is usually connected to skin tones, but this is baseball color as in colorful personalities. The Red Sox have had plenty in their collective history, but to be colorful is one thing; having the talent to go with it is another.
Bill Lee and Oil Can Boyd were both quite colorful. Both would give quotes that often exceeded the outrageous. Both were high-end competitors and both were capable of antics that did not make print until decades later. With Lee and Boyd, you also had the talent to match it.
The last championship team certainly had a case of colorful characters. The Beard Brothers could produce on the field and – if necessary – intimidate opponents with their collective flair for playing the game hard – real hard. Plenty of style points.
The 2004 curse breakers certainly provided their collection of baseball dissidents led by Johnny Damon. Kevin Millar was accused of glorifying them with the aptly named “Idiots.” The collection had a mixed blend of rational and irrational, but somehow it blended together where different strokes became one stroke.
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Chemistry is usually attached to teams and that chemistry often circulates around those who are colorful. Jonny Gomes certainly fits into that category. A borderline talent yet one who is actually capable of being a bench and clubhouse warden for the manager. The contributions of a Gomes type may collectively be lacking, but often the game impacts are significant.
Looking at the 2017 Red Sox team I don’t see much color. A little centerfield dance is not exactly what legends of flair are composed of. The younger players such as Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, and Xander Bogaerts tend to let on field performance speak for them.
Dustin Pedroia is probably the only player I can connect to being colorful on the team. Pedroia is among the best players and a notorious instigator – just think of his ability to get David Ortiz to slip off the rails. Maybe the noted tailor Chris Sale will add some color to the blandness I see. Or David Price will take his Twitter statements to another level?
The team as comprised seems rather bland and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes colorful can also mean obstinate, stubborn, divisive and several other negative terms. The color has to remain within the positive realm and not wander into territory that is counterproductive – often a fine line, but just think Gomes.
The lack of color is in no way a detriment to club performance. The New York Yankees performed with machine precision for decades and when the occasional character surfaced the tolerance level by management often resulted in exile elsewhere – usually Kansas City.
A colorful team usually has great bonding instincts and that camaraderie is often translated to on-field performance. The strange intrinsic ability for all the mismatched parts to somehow uniformly fit together. A family atmosphere where internal disputes do not become external. Where younger players are educated and not terrorized. An environment where a manager can manage knowing that there are players who will often take on the role of disciplinarian or father confessor.
The Red Sox 2017 team may have a player or two whose personality – and it is all personality – be able to step forward. This is not a learned talent, but an instinctive one. Fans, media and the players themselves enjoy the irreverence a character often brings such as Manny Ramirez in just “Being Manny.” Those moments that light up the season and make it fun.