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Home » May 2010 Game CommentsMay 2010 » First Against First Place

First Against First Place

Terry Francona is nowhere to be seen on the list of highest-paid coaches by Forbes. In fact, no MLB skipper is to be found in the top ten, which is populated by NFL and NBA honchos. Should Francona ever dine with Bill Belichick or Doc Rivers the latter two should offer to pay; with a nifty $7.5 million a year Belichick is second on the list and Rivers tenth with $5.5 million annually.

For $1.5 million less than Rivers Francona coaches about twice as many games during the regular season. The $3.5 million gap between the baseball manager and the grid iron guru could be attributed to Belichick’s trio of championships compared to Francona’s pair. The fundamental difference between the MLB and the other leagues is that football and basketball are flagship programs in collegiate athletics. The earning potential of these two sports enables a top coach for a major college’s marquee football or basketball program to earn a salary comparable to the median salaries of their pro sport counterparts.

Not so for baseball managers. Baseball talent requires years of seasoning that the NCAA monopoly has no patience for. While there are prospects that go the college route, there is a robust farm system feeds the need for major league talent.

If Francona turns around his team’s season as he seems to be doing, a case could be made that he should be earning the $7.5 million Joe Torre did in 2007 with the Yankees. Or the Red Sox new-found success could be attributed to the players finally fulfilling their lofty expectations.

Clay Buchholz has steadied himself to be the team’s co-ace in the wake of Josh Beckett’s injury woes, turning in an impressive six-inning performance against one of the top offenses in the league.

David Ortiz has rediscovered his groove, going 2-for-4 with a scorching line drive homer in the second inning.

Unlike other All-Star candidates at first base (I’m looking at you, Mark Teixeira), Kevin Youkilis has actually earned his votes, sporting a line of .321 batting average, .457 on-base percentage, and .622 slugging percentage. He leads the team with 10 home runs; his fourth-inning two-run longball broke his tie with Ortiz.

The Red Sox are at last achieving some measure of success because they are pitching, hitting, and fielding better. But as much as players have improved, Francona has put them in the position to succeed. Had he given up on Ortiz when the fans and media suggested he should have we would not be cheering his resurgence now.

As for the Celtics failing to sweep the Magic, Rivers’s gametime decisions, such as failing to call a timeout for the final possession or not cycling the ball to the hot-handed Ray Allen, were questionable. But no stratagems could overcome the disappointing showings by Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, neither of whom showed the killer instinct in the final seconds of overtime in their 96-92 defeat. Please don’t Bruins 2004 Yankees this.

Game 46: May 24, 2010
WinRed Sox
6W: Clay Buchholz (6-3)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (15)
HR: David Ortiz (9), Kevin Youkilis (10)
1L: Wade Davis (4-4)
2B: Jason Bartlett (11)
HR: Carlos Pena (8)

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