I told a Yankee fan friend of mine earlier this week that the blog wouldn’t speak of how the Red Sox dramatically augured into the September earth – the worst September crash in Major League history. An unexpected and welcome visit from another friend convinced me otherwise, though we barely spoke of baseball. Tito Francona, the widely acknowledged best ever manager of the Sox for eight years and breaker of the “Curse of the Bambino,” is known as a friend of the players. In the end, friendship was insufficient, and the authority born of respect was needed.
Francona and the owners agreed on Friday that he would “seek other opportunities”. Many fans are saddened but agree; his time at Fenway had run its course. In his final press conference a weary Tito said the team needed a “new voice”. He seemed crushed by his powerlessness to inspire spoiled players to do what was necessary. Petty, whining complaints accrued; some pitchers continued to drink beer in the clubhouse during the games after being directed to stop. Even the Red Sox Nation beloved “Big Papi” acted out like an entitled adolescent earlier in the year by breaking into a pre-game press conference and publically insisting on Francona talking to him right here, right now about some imagined slight with several ‘expletives deleted’ in front of the cameras.
The complexity of coaching multi millionaire twenty something celebrity athletes is well documented; hardly a week goes by without a sports news headline of drug use, bar fights, spousal abuse, dugout rifts or the sad exhibit of some fallen demigod lying to a Congressional subcommittee. At the risk of over extrapolating, athletes are not exempt from membership in the “Peter Pan” post war generations; the money and the fame make their embarrassments more public than most, but they are not atypical – simply more enabled. Louise Bogan, the former U.S. Poet Laureate, with her own extremely troubled life, wrote, “But childhood prolonged, cannot remain a fairyland. It becomes a hell.”
The “Boys of Summer” are not the role models and champions we hoped they would be, but are, in the end, merely boys with a lot of disposable income.
My friend, Rick, believes adolescents running the asylum harkens back to the French Revolution, when “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” ran rampant and blood ran in the streets. License and lack of restraint tragically substituted for Liberté. Fraternité turned out to be pack mentality with ill thought out ends and means, not unrelated to modern gangs and mall rats. Égalité morphed into radical egalitarianism, which disdained all authority.
He related to me another friend’s lament about the almost impossible challenge of current schools. To paraphrase (and I am probably not exact): the teachers are afraid of the students; the administrators are afraid of the teachers (and their union); the administrators are afraid of the school board; the school board is afraid of the voters and parents; the parents are afraid of their children, the students.
The children are running the schools, and the adults have fled the premises. I know many (and am a father to two) teachers. While they do not like much of what the union promulgates, they look on their union representative as their last protection against fearful administrators and litigious parents, who almost invariably back up their children and distrust the teacher’s side of the story. Teachers cannot discipline even the most egregious offenses without fear of career ruining repercussions from parents and administrators.
Ironically, teachers are frequently obliged to fulfill the parent’s role, which has been abdicated by numerous parents, who are more friend than father to their children. The high rate of teacher burn out is inevitable, and too many teachers with no heart, energy, life and imagination left, live only for the blessed day of their own entitled retirement. The teachers who persevere, who love, who pour out their heart, energy, life, intelligence and imagination for 180 days a year are the champions and role models, worthy of gratitude from all of us. To a great degree our society is in their hands.
What Youth deemed crystal, Age finds out was dew.