The Worst Coaches in Boston Sports History, Part IV
Reader AM adds another to his list:
Here's one I should have mentioned - a hitting coach, Rick Burleson. He's a big part of the reason why Butch Hobson really was an awful manager. The Sox had just brought up two extraordinarily gifted young hitters, both left-handers with great power and remarkable patience for their ages, both incidentally native New Englanders. So to coach them, in came The Rooster, a righty with no power and not much of an eye who got by on and believed in aggressiveness at the plate. Both Mo Vaughan and Phil Plantier wound up back in the minors, and neither I think was ever quite the hitter he should have been because their selectivity didn't develop as it might have.
The Worst Coaches in Boston Sports History, Part III
Now Reader AM has answered the call, with some real ghosts-from-the-past names (Frank Leahy and Chuck Fairbanks etc.):
Clive Rush is a good call - he was crazy. The "Black Power" defense was my favorite example. Rod Rust didn't do very well, and Dick MacPherson, though the nicest man ever, was not a success.
In baseball, Mike Higgins was awful (no "Black Power" defense here - some power, but no blacks, no defense). (it's apparently not true, however, that Don Buddin was his illegitimate son, as widely rumored.) I'm no fan of Don Zimmer - the Sox should have won by 10 games in '78 even with the injuries (being able to deal with injuries is the test of a manager, and Zim failed spectacularly.) Then there are the non-managers - Emil Fuchs for the Braves, and the Sox/Americans situation in 1907 - think it's a bad sign when your manager commits suicide during spring training?
I'd be inclined to give M.L. a pass - everyone knew he was taking one for the team, and some suggested that he was supposed to lose. Pitino's another crazy man. I think he tried to get Scottie Pippen that first year because he'd chosen to win and all the other NBA coaches were (he thought) morons, but he was one veteran away.
Hockey - well, that guy before Julien didn't achieve much.
In the college ranks, how about Ronn Tomassoni (I may have misspelled this, but as far as I'm concerned he misspelled both of his names), who utterly destroyed the Harvard hockey program?
Two Boston-connected guys, Frank Leahy and Chuck Fairbanks, were in effect blackballed from college coaching because, despite .800+ records, they were considered too pathologically competitive to be football coaches. Or something.
BTW: The Pats' Dick MacPherson later admitted: 'I made a huge mistake going to New England.'
... I wouldn't put the Zip on my all-time worst list. Maybe the all-time frustrating list, along with Jimy Williams.
Neither was good in a close shave. ... Ba dum chh!
... Julien was preceded by Dave Lewis,
who looks like the worst of a sad string of mediocre Bruins coaches. ... Ronn Tomassoni's name is spelled correctly. Here's an article on his resignation.
The Worst Coaches in Boston Sports History, Part II
Reader No. 1 answers the call:
Speaking as a practicing manager, there are always many factors to take into account, I prefer the designation 'unsuccessful' coaches Virtually all failed managers-coaches did something right at some point in their careers and some who failed do well in another context with what they learned (you could put all four of our major coaches in that category). Having said all of that:
Rick Pitino's Celtic tenure was extraordinarily unsuccessful relative to expectations. He did draft well (Billups, Pierce) but stability and improvement never materialized.
Joe Kerrigan's 2001 fill in stint with the Sox. The roster was a train wreck of overpriced has beens. Unfortunately this talented pitching coach never got another chance to date.
Rod Rust, coach of the 1990 1-15 Pats, also never got another head job shot in NFL and according to Wikipedia was winless in his CFL chance.
Forgot about Rod. ... Still awaiting word from Reader AM. Anyone else with nominees, just send them in. ... Someone suggested branching out to college coaches. Fine with me. In these parts, that largely means Boston College coaches. Maybe even some UMass and Harvard coaches, if anyone has nominees.
Steve Jobs: An end of an era
The stepping down
of Apple's Steve Jobs is sad on so many fronts. It's sad on a personal level to see anyone stricken with such a terrible illness. It's sad on a corporate level for Jobs' beloved Apple. It's sad for the high-tech industry. But it's also sad for America in general.
Unfortunately, we live in a time when so many of our greatest minds flock to Wall Street for the quick and easy riches, whether they're Harvard or MIT or other college grads, and shun professions where patience, hard work and risk are the name of the game. Please don't tell me that finance is a risky business. It isn't. It's a safe, almost guaranteed way to make big bucks, with the government acting as a virtual backstop for all types of blunders. It has become the anti-thesis of true capitalism. But An Wang, Ken Olsen, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs. Now those are free-enterprise titans worthy of a nation's deep respect. They were all young entrepreneurs at one point. Their successes were never guaranteed. They were industry pioneers. They ended up changing industry history and our lives.
Now one of those risk-taking giants is stepping down. Who is going to replace Jobs? Who is the next true American free-enterprise titan who can come even close to what he's accomplished? I'm sure there are some worthy candidates out there. Mark Zuckerberg comes to mind, though his genius is more of the type that rides the crest of technological innovation, rather than creating technological innovations. Zuckerberg is an adapter. Jobs is a creator. There's a big difference. Steve Jobs has been a huge innovative force within the high-tech world for 35 long years now, changing the computer, movie, music and phone industries along the way. It's an understatement to say he will be missed. His departure leaves a gaping hole within America's tech and innovation sectors.
The Worst Coaches in Boston Sports History
Responding to the post immediately below, Suldog
has some excellent nominees:
I'd have to say Pinky Higgins and Billy Herman should rank ahead of Butch Hobson as stinkers.
Higgins was responsible (along with Yawkey, of course) for the Sox being the last team to break the color barrier, and he was a renowned alcoholic as well. His .498 winning percentage over 8 seasons doesn't appear totally execrable until you see that he led them to a .545 in his first year (1955) and went down, down, down in each year following, bottoming out at .422 in 1960 (he "rebounded" with .469 and .475 in 1961 and 1962, then was canned.) Not coincidentally, other AL teams were signing and playing good darker-skinned talent as Higgins' tenure went along, while the Sox remained the whitest team in baseball.
Herman led the team to consecutive 9th place finishes in 1965 and 1966, amassing a stunning 128 - 192 record along the way. Dick Williams took over in '67 and the rest is history.
I still haven't heard back from Reader No. 1 and Reader AM about their nominees. If anyone else has suggestions, send 'em in. I'm particularly interested in hearing from Bruins fans, due to my own minimal knowledge of hockey. As I told Suldog, "Going through three-plus decades without a Stanley Cup suggests a rich mine of coaching incompetence, though J. Jacobs, like Yawkey, shoulders much of the blame."
'The Twelve Worst Coaches in Sports History'
There are some surprises
on the list. No Bostonians, though one of them is oddly wearing a Boston uniform. ... Has anyone ever put together the worst coaches in Boston sports history? Reader No. 1 and Reader AM, help me here. Clive Rush, M.L. Carr and Rick Pitino come quickly to mind. ... Butch Hobson's name pops up on my radar, but I really don't think he deserves to be on the all-time worst
MLB managers list. ...
Something to truly worry about: Hurricane Irene
I worry about. ... Not that yesterday's earthquake wasn't significant. But Irene looks potentially far more serious at this point. ...
'I Shouldn’t Be Alive: Caught in the Massachusetts Quake of 2011'
PBS’s Frontline has already produced a documentary on yesterday’s earthquake, focusing on the incredible tale of Armchair Gen. Savin Hill, who kindly sent in the following transcript of the documentary:
Narrator: It started out as a typical late summer day in New England for Armchair General Savin Hill. The sun was shining and he was in his home office. The General's a self-employed marketing specialist, and the day seemed to start out like many others.
The General: As usual, I knew I had a lot of work in front of me. I had conference calls to make, email marketing programs to manage. It seemed like a typical day.
Narrator: Then, without warning, the General's day took a deadly turn.
The General: I was making a PB&J sandwich when I noticed a slight swaying.
Narrator: The General had suddenly found himself in the great Massachusetts Earthquake of 2011 -- one of the worst extremely minor earthquakes in the past 100 years.
The General: I knew it was an earthquake. I'd felt the 1.3 back in '98 -- my couch moved one-sixteenth of an inch back then. This was much worse. I saw the blinds move almost imperceptibly.
Narrator: Moving with cat-like agility, the General dashed out to his porch.
The General: I knew inside was not safe - but then I found myself on the porch! Not only could I be crushed by the house -- but I was sure to get splinters too.
Narrator: The General then vaulted into his parking space immediately behind his porch and made his way to his back "yard" -- a terrifyingly tiny space measuring 15 feet by 25.
The General: I used the James T. Kirk "roll" maneuver I'd seen in Star Trek to get from the parking space to the back yard. It seemed to work perfectly as I ended up in the back yard in a crouching position -- having transitioned from the James T. Kirk pre-roll crouching position. My shoulder was slightly dirty from the roll, but other than that, I thought I was fine.
Narrator: The General then had a choice -- to remain in the relative safety of his tiny back yard, or risk going back into the house and scheduling some conference calls.
The General: I knew another extremely small after shock could happen at any minute -- what if I was inside? I decided to stay outside, crouching by the rose-of-sharon bush in the shade to keep out of the wilting New England sun.
Narrator: As the General waited under the rose-of-sharon bush, he was becoming slightly thirsty. If he remained there for another 12 days, he could die.
The General: I knew if I stayed under that bush continuously for 12 days, I was a goner. By this point it had been nearly 48 minutes since my last glass of orange juice. I was having waking dreams of fountains of orange juice -- but I knew I just couldn't get to it. Not without taking the 38 seconds to go back in the house and go to the refrigerator. …
You’re not going to find a more dramatic account of yesterday’s dramatic events. Look for the full Frontline "I Shouldn't Be Alive" documentary later next month on your favorite PBS station.
P.S. -- Armchair Gen. Savin Hill and I have agreed: The next Frontline documentary should be "Falling Productivity: The crisis of home-office procrastination"
Wall Street's dependency on government
Next time someone says Wall Street is a bastion of true laissez-faire capitalism, show 'em these disgusting numbers
. ... Hats off to Bloomberg for ferreting out the numbers.
The 1970s in reverse?
Hub Blog knows that conventional wisdom, at least on the right, says we're reliving the 1970s all over again, i.e. sooner or later President Obama is going to have his killer rabbit moment
. I know what they mean. Some of the similarities are eerie, including seemingly intractable economic problems combined with weak presidencies. But watching this Jon Stewart piece
, it kind of hit me the opposite might be true, i.e. this might be the conservative movement's 1970s. A kind of reverse 1970s.
I remember the '70s as a time when liberalism hung too firmly to its dogmas, refusing to take pragmatic steps to solve problems and deviate from old Keynesian theories. Economically, they refused, until the last moment, to take on the '70s inflation dragon, saying it would worsen unemployment do so. OK, now replace 'liberalism' above with 'conservativism,' 'Keynesian' with 'Supply Side' and 'inflation dragon' with 'unemployment dragon,' etc. Of course, also change the decade references. But still ... All right, the theory needs work. A lot of work. Obama playing the role of Carter is simply too obvious to ignore. But I can't get the other parallels out of my mind.
Boston’s history of filling in the harbor
Here’s a cool slide show presentation
by Boston College’s Jeffery Howe on all the landfill projects over the centuries in Boston – from filling in Mill Pond to filling in of the Back Bay. There’s a striking resemblance to my waistline adjustments over the years, but we won’t get into that. … Slide show via Lexington Reader.
Groupon: ‘The worst public investment ever’? Part II
After reading this
about Groupon, I can't resist: I told you so.
... How many deal sites
are there now? What's your normally ne'er-do-well brother-in-law up to these days? Just asking. ... Maybe Groupon will be the Amazon.com of its era, taking advantage of its technological edge, early market clout and sharp management team to stay on top. But I doubt it. The competition is fierce.
Economic double trouble
Here’s a great description
about how 2008 ultimately led to recent market turmoil, including entire nations teetering on the edge of default:
“Unsustainable private-sector debt mountains were transferred to the public sector in 2008 to prevent the adjustment to the Depression-era reality that the debt unwind would undoubtedly have brought about,” Mr Edwards (of Société Générale) wrote in his latest research note. “Yet, those debts are as unsustainable in the hands of the public sector as they were in the private.”
Makes sense. I'd go a step farther: A borrower hands off his unsustainable debts to another borrower barely able to keep up with his own unsustainable debts. The result: double trouble.
Slanted realism vs. Magical Thinking
explains the fiscal-policy differences between Obama and Republicans – and between the conservative media and the MSM. … Via Reader No. 1, who wrote in: “I gather that you don't want to join the Obama pile-on. So instead, revel in realistic and original column by Jonathan Chait …”
It's Europe, stupid, Part II
Michael Lewis has another well-timed must-read article
on our economic mess, this time focusing on Germany and its strange obsession with messes of the non-economic kind. … Economically, one of the sadder parts of the story is how Americans on Wall Street viewed Germans as saps and knowingly fleeced them. Lewis talked to a former German banker:
At bottom, he says, the Germans were blind to the possibility that the Americans were playing the game by something other than the official rules. The Germans took the rules at their face value: they looked into the history of triple-A-rated bonds and accepted the official story that triple-A-rated bonds were completely risk-free.
I'm not feeling too sorry for the Germans. They were getting greedy too. But they definitely trusted those AAA ratings on mortgage securities, while the Wall Street peddlers of the bonds knew full well they were crap. ... There used to be a time when a lot of Europeans, especially Germans, admired the U.S. financial system's stability, credibility and relative transparency. That view is long gone.
It's Europe, stupid
and Andrew Ross Sorkin
both zero in on the main culprit in today's financial-markets drama: Europe. Sorkin:
(The) downgrade is almost a sideshow compared with the real reason that stocks started falling Monday morning, before panic set in and the momentum of the market took over: the intractable problems in the European Union, which look a lot more like the United States banking crisis circa 2008 than what’s happening on this side of the Atlantic now.
Here's something else to watch: China. The U.S. is broke. It can't ride to Europe's rescue. There's going to be no mini-Marshall Plan coming from this side of the Atlantic. But China is a different matter. It has tons of money to invest. There's a lot of chatter China may end up bailing out Europe. And when and if it does: The whole economic ballgame will have changed. China will have truly arrived as an economic superpower. It will be historic. And a historic embarrassment to the West.
At least S&P's track record remains consistent
Investors obviously aren't buying into Standard & Poor's downgrading of the U.S. government. Treasury yields have actually dropped
since S&P's action last week. S&P says one thing. The markets say and do the opposite. Similar to what happened to S&P's AAA ratings of subprime-mortgage securities. Preliminary conclusion: S&P has blown it again.
For whom the credit ratings toll, Part II
Echoing my own reservations
about Standard & Poor's credibility, Paul Krugman uncorks
To understand the furor over the decision by Standard & Poor’s, the rating agency, to downgrade U.S. government debt, you have to hold in your mind two seemingly (but not actually) contradictory ideas. The first is that America is indeed no longer the stable, reliable country it once was. The second is that S.& P. itself has even lower credibility; it’s the last place anyone should turn for judgments about our nation’s prospects.
Let’s start with S.& P.’s lack of credibility. If there’s a single word that best describes the rating agency’s decision to downgrade America, it’s chutzpah.
-- From Bloomberg/BusinessWeek
Standard & Poor’s, the rating company that downgraded the debt of the United States to AA+ from AAA for the first time, now finds itself assailed by investors led by billionaire Warren Buffett for making a political decision that has more to do with Tea Party politics than the financial stability of the U.S
Searching for the Grand Debt Bargain
parks one. I agree with almost every idea and word, especially the notion that we have to fix the tax code before we make any Grand Bargain. ...Notice what Republicans and Democrats, in the end, will have to agree to -- higher revenues and serious program reforms to reduce spending. There's no way around the two if we're serious about tackling the long-term debts. The probability of a Grand Bargain happening, though, is small -- and that partially explains S&P's downgrade action on Friday. S& P analysts saw ideological intransigence on full gory display during the debt-ceiling debate, particularly the refusal by conservative Republicans to even contemplate raising revenues. The bleak outlook for a common-sense compromise is driving down investor confidence.
Ballpark Frank and the mayor
Joan takes justified whacks
at both Frank McCourt and Mayor Menino over the slow pace of Seaport District development. But I wouldn't be too harsh on the mayor when it comes to his stiff-arming of Ballbark Frank, a verifiable nutcase who finally showed his true colors as a businessman after he took over the LA Dodgers. Acquiring and managing parking lots are one thing. Actually building and running a business is another. Boston can be thankful on two counts: Thanks goodness McCourt didn't buy the Red Sox and thank goodness he's no longer involved with Seaport. ... As for the mayor, his Seaport problem is himself. He micro-manages too much, requiring everyone to kiss his ring and get OKs on the smallest of matters, etc. The slightest slight in this town can lead to disaster for developers. ... Joan column via Reader No. 1.
‘Those who cannot see the light in the midst of all the darkness’
There’s something completely phony, over-the-top about this
. It’s the opposite of ‘doth protest too much.’ It’s more like 'doth pander too much.' …
The only positive thing to come from this event for Perry is the obnoxious atheists who tried to block his appearance at the religious rally. I mean, really. Telling politicians what religious gatherings they can and can’t attend? The atheists make Perry look almost reasonable by comparison -- almost.
For whom the credit ratings toll
Though I can't get out of my mind the thought that S&P is posturing as a tough-guy ratings agency after its sycophantic role in the subprime-mortgage fiasco, its surprise downgrade
last night of the US credit rating should nevertheless serve as a warning bell for the nation. Look at everything happening in Europe. Though it's unlikely the US will go through similar credit-market agony, it's no longer unthinkable that investors will turn on the US one day. ... The recent fight over the debt ceiling played a huge role in this S&P move. It's depressing to contemplate how Washington will ever get its act together to attack our long-term deficits in a common-sense way. ... The precise timing of S&P's move was a surprise. But the act itself wasn't. As noted here a few days ago (see post immediately below), the ugly debt-ceiling debate merely hastened the day when a downgrade would come.
Debt-ceiling debate: Winners and losers
Here’s Hub Blog’s list of winners and losers in the debt-ceiling debate, knowing that the drama isn’t quite over yet and that theoretically the winner-loser outcomes below could still change:Winners:House Republicans
– They changed the agenda. They came in determined to cut spending – and succeeded. They may be hypocrites (see deficits run up under Bush II – and try to recall any similar insurrection between Jan. 2001 and Jan. 2009). They may only care about deficits when a Democrat is in the White House (ditto above note). They were economically wrong to risk the possibility of default. They refused to compromise. They didn't deserve to win this fight. But they still won. It can’t be denied.U.S. bond holders
– For now, they’re no longer facing the possibility of a default. They can breathe easier. But it came at a very high price: The battle unnerved global investors and harmed U.S. credibility. In the long run, this battle actually increased the odds of an eventual ratings downgrade for the U.S. government, not decreased it.John Boehner
– The man who started out this battle in the most miserable, pathetic, unenviable position somehow survived to win.Losers:Barack Obama
– He should have
won this fight. He could have staked out ground by announcing certain short-term untouchables, such as Social Security and Medicare, and linked them to possible tax increases to maintain their status. He didn’t. He could have made clear his left-centrist positions, compared to the radical far-right position of House Republicans. He didn’t. He could have more artfully spelled out how the economy was at risk as a result of this debate. He didn’t. Bill Clinton faced similar budget fights in the ‘90s when Republicans overreached – and he won them. Obama just doesn't have the same triangulate mojo.Congressional Liberals
– Where were they? Sure, they’re now furious as details leak about the general outline of a final deal. But where were they the past month? Why didn’t they make themselves as obstinate as another congressional minority, i.e. conservative House Tea Party members? They didn’t plant a stake in the ground either. They didn’t position themselves as leverage against the Tea Party. They were political MIAs at the negotiating table.The Moderate Middle
– Far left-wing and right-wing pundits tend to despise centrists (see Paul Krugman’s latest centrist-bashing column
). They almost have contempt for moderates. They simply can’t conceive that centrists have principals, suggesting instead that moderates are pulling a David Broder and merely trying to be liked by both sides. It’s not the case, needless to say. But try telling that to snarling fanatics who don’t see gray areas and view political fights as all-or-nothing contests.
Well, we just got an all-or-nothing outcome. The middle didn’t ride to the rescue. It got marginalized in this fight. And that’s not good. We could have had a Grand Compromise deal. Not going to happen.The Pentagon
– Big spending cuts are on the way.