"I don't care if we won the World Series last year," Dad moaned afterward. "Francona has been TERRIBLE. Make sure you put that in your next Red Sox column. He's cost us at least eight games this season, and he cost us 10 last season. We won the title in spite of him."

Now …

That's coming from the same guy who was screamed, "It happened in my lifetime! It happened in my lifetime!" eight months ago and drove the "I don't care what happens, everything else is gravy" bandwagon as recently as April. Now he's practically ready to take Francona out with a BB gun from the Monster seats. And why? Because it's in his blood. You can't stop living and dying with a team just because something good happened to it. Dad toiled for too many years with this franchise -- 38 years and counting, actually. Throw in the intolerable New England weather -- which plays a bigger factor than one would think, by the way, and only because seven straight freezing, snow-ridden months immediately followed by oppressive humidity could turn anyone into a borderline serial killer -- and I can't blame him (or anyone else) for occasionally complaining about this year's team. As long as it's within reason.

(Just remember, we won last year. We won last year. We won last year … )

Group No. 3: Moving forward and treating 2005 like any other baseball season … even if it means ripping certain players and sounding as miserable as they did during any other season

I will never understand these people. For instance, how could anyone boo Foulke? How? Could you really complain that he struggled this season, or that he didn't get knee surgery in time, or that he made that innocuous Burger King joke last month about the fans? After all, this was the same guy who pitched in seven of the last eight playoff wins, throwing 12 innings and 184 pitches over an 11-day span (including 50 in a do-or-die Game 4 against the Yankees). There's no way they could have won the World Series without him. If anything, there's a decent chance his body could have given out because of those innings last October. And some fans forgot this?

Same with Schilling, the World Series hero who took a mild beating from certain media members and Sox fans for his availability and candor (with everyone careful not to openly bash him, for obvious reasons). It's always interesting how this works -- athletes like Tiger and Pete Sampras get lambasted because they never say anything interesting, and athletes like Schilling get lambasted because they won't shut up. The lesson, as always: You can't win. But driving around New England last week, listening to certain WEEI callers complain that Schilling pushed for the closer role (temporarily replacing Foulke) because he was an attention hog, or because he knew it was yet another thing that would augment his Hall of Fame resume … it was sickening, actually. I'd like to believe that most Sox fans fall into Groups 1 and 2, but there are enough Group 3s out there to make me wonder if some people back home are just destined to be unhappy.



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