Terry FranconaÌs spring training diary, February 23:
9:01 A.M: Working out early in Fort Myers with big David Wells and Curt Schilling. Schilling looks like heÌs lost a good 20 pounds this off season. Probably the lack of cake and an unlimited amount of barbeque pork on the postgame spread every night during the summer. I also havenÌt missed Schilling posting Bush-Cheney stickers all over the clubhouse after every game.
Speaking of cake, I had a nice long talk with David Wells today about why he wanted to be traded to the West Coast. After a few minutes of describing the vast majority of tattoo parlors, nightclubs with Ïthe shiny ballsÓ and how he might retire and become lead editor for Gun And Truck Magazine, he promptly headed over to the press table and inhaled a world record 245 donuts in 12 minutes. Not expected, but then again not completely out of the ordinary. LetÌs hope this doesnÌt screw up his physical.
10:03 A.M: Curt Schilling decided heÌd had enough for the day at about 10 AM and wanted to go home, so I gave him permission and told him to have a nice relaxation period. Unfortunately, he wouldnÌt stop talking to me so I forgot to help Lynn Jones pluck the crap out of his mustache. LetÌs just say he wasnÌt happy. Curt explained to me how his best childhood memory was riding his bike to the lone Dairy Queen on his block. Then he prepared a two-hour slide show lecture on the art of finding slope-intercept form. Finally, he threw me a bloody ankle replica doll and we parted ways.
12:51 P.M: Early afternoon I ran into Kevin Youkilis in the shower. Not a pretty sight.
1:30 P.M: Next came my media session, where some reporters were asking me about the season:
Bob Ryan: The day is February 23rd, 2006. The Red Sox win a World Series for the first time in 86 years back in 2004, everyone is going hysterical. Utter pandemonium. You can feel it in the streets of Boston just walking down the road. WhatÌs the number one thing you guess must do to reach the promised land once again?
Me: Schill and Foulkey are key. Those guys mean so much to the club, not only from a pitching standpoint but also from a leader and vocal standpoint. Um, man, Lowell, we need big Mikey to come through huge for us this year replacing Billy Mueller. But overall I feel extremely confident about this group. Great bunchaÌ guys.
Mike Lupica: Well, hereÌs the problem I have with the Red Sox. You never hear people talk about the tide changing in the East to the Blue Jays. People say, eh, they could finish 2nd or 3rd this year, but not first. No sir. Never. ThereÌs no question in my mind the Blue Jays front office had the best off season in 2005-2006. ItÌs really a shame whatÌs happening.
Me: The Blue Jays did a wonderful job loading up their club. And IÌm sure every game against the Jays will be a hard-fought duel between playoff caliber teams.
Dan Shaughnessy: Okay, the bottom line is that Manny Ramirez is overpaid, old and canÌt put up the numbers anymore. You guys should have traded him long before that whole Theo Epstein, a.k.a. God, situation came afoot. Is this at all concerning?
Me: Next question. Yeah, go ahead Gordon.
2:52 P.M: To round out the day, we had a fun little pitching session against some of our single-A players. This double-A kid named Luis Mendoza, who in reality looks like one of those 12 year olds that does a little too well in the community spelling bee, pitched gawd-awful. It got to the point where John Flaherty was 4 for 4 with 3 grand slams, a triple and 8 RBIÌs against him in the first two innings. J.T. Snow and I were having one hell of a time on the bench laughing at this massacre. Seriously, there was milk coming out of our nose, we were poppin the Corona and some sort of tobacco-spit-whiskey mixture came out of my mouth and fell on Brad MillsÌ shoe. He gave us an evil stare and we pulled Mendoza.
Mendoza: Um, sorry guys ::walks off::
Youkilis: Sheesh, that guy sucks worse than Brazelton. Lose the glasses, bro.
Varitek: Hey, letÌs be nice here. This is a young veteran pitcher with plenty of potential that just got a little rattled today. The fastball, breaking ball, changeup- theyÌll eventually come together for the kid. He could be in the majors someday.
Graffanino: Will you cut the scouting report crap Tek, he stinks worse than stale urine.
Pedroia: You better not be bringing in Cla Meredith, I donÌt feel like getting injured today. I still canÌt believe you brought that guy up last year, ha!
Me: I learned my lesson alright. Dustin, why donÌt you stay busy trying to bring up that .255 average in Pawtucket last year. Future my bum knees.
Varitek: Check out Van Buren walking over here from the dugout. This guy is trying to earn a spot on a major league roster and heÌs walking, not even jogging, to the mound. Cut him. ItÌs all about hustle, coach. All about hustle. Actually makes me angry ::snarls and kicks the dirt:: DonÌt give me that look, Rook.
Pedroia: Oh sorry sorry, no, itÌs just funny.
Me: Will it be funny when you find out I lit a dead raccoon on fire in your locker, huh? Will it be funny when the media finds out about your little Ïspecial friendsÓ that accompany you in the back of the bus after every workout, eh? Keep it down.
Lowell: Is Boomer here today? He better leave some fried chicken for me.
Youkilis: Yeah man, Wells is gaining more weight than Renee Zellwegger before a Bridget Jones flick. Heh, I just said the word Ïflick.Ó
Varitek: GUYS, can we focus here! We keep playing like this and weÌll finish 16 back of Toronto, 21 back of the Yankees and only 10 up on Baltimore! LetÌs get our heads in the game. You guys all suck.
Millar: Hey guys, man that Orioles camp is friggin brutal. Hunnies in the stands make me vomit. So, um, whaaaaaaaats goin on?
Graffanino: Speaking of suck÷
9:49 P.M: Just before I hit the sack, someone knocked on my hotel door. I limped over and noticed it was Kevin Millar once again, hunched over on the opposite wall, shivering and apparently bloody at the lip. Then, he mysteriously ran away before I could yell out at him. He only left this letter:
This Orioles thing sucks. Maybe IÌm just bitter because guys named Cliff Thomason and Mikel Shischkabob passed me on the depth chart today, but, man, I donÌt see any never-ending handshakes or man hugs I so enjoyed with you fellas. Plus, the front office now has me on a tight leash. Supposedly, I canÌt go out the night before my start and drown myself in Heineken.
Listen, IÌm just a normal guy that likes to hit homeruns, like once or twice a month. I like Jack Daniels, KFC and hunting like every other normal human being. Not to mention that Moonwalk I did in the clubhouse last year. IÌm even getting together with Derek LoweÌs mistress.
Please take me back. Please.
Just another day in the life of being Red Sox manager.