Entrepreneurial Leadership and Management . . . and Other Stuff

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08
Apr

Recent Reading

Power Play by Joseph Finder – I came across Power Play while cruising through some thrillers at a book store.  Having read Finder’s Paranoia a few years ago and remembering how much I enjoyed it, I picked it up and consumed it quickly.  A very fun and fast read.  I guess it would be called a corporate thriller, sorta like how Grisham’s books are legal thrillers.  I really like how Finder uses an otherwise unassuming and humble (yet cool) hero to figure things out and save the day.  The ending is a little anticlimactic, but overall, very enjoyable.

The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci – If you’re a fan of baseball, you’ll love this book.  It’s more like an expose than anything else.  If you were involved with the Yankees and you’re name doesn’t rhyme with Jereck Deter (or isn’t Jorge Pasada, Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera or Bernie Williams), Joe’s got something . . . interesting . . . to say about you.  Very thoughtful stuff about steroids and even more interesting material on changing attitudes in the game.  His commentary on how the rest of the league caught up with the Yankees’ ability to outspend other teams by being smarter is also illuminating (in a Money Ball-ish kinda way).

If, as Bill Parcels says, “you’re only as good as your record,” Torre is among the best ever.  1249 wins over 12 seasons, including 4 World Series Championships.  His teams went to the playoffs every year he was in New York.  Impressive.

The only problem with the book was the amount of time Torre spend describing the 7th game, 12th inning Yankee defeat of the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS.  Very, very painful.

Why Shi*t Happens: The Science of a Really Bad Day by Peter J. Bentley – Bentley uses the story of someone’s amazingly bad day to walk the reader through a basic how things work of anatomy, physics, medicine, electronics and so forth.  I almost punted on the book because of how basic it initially seemed, but I realized that I was learning at least one thing with each little story the author presented.  In fact, a few were completely enlightening.  You certainly have to be in the right mood to read this and some insatiable curiosity about the world around you is required.  It’s a fun way pf presenting the material, though.

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 April 8th, 2009  
 Will  
 Books, Red Sox, Sports  
   
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20
Oct

Red Sox Leave 600 Men on Base, Lose ALCS Game 7

Sorry fellow Red Sox fans, it needs to be said . . . the better team won the ALCS last night.  The Tampa Bay Rays are younger, stronger, healthier and probably better managed than the Sox.  The experience and broad skills of the Red Sox almost overcame those factors, but just fell short this year.

The series was excellent.  Great games, great pitching and clutch hitting.  Last night’s top of the eighth inning was indicative of it.  The Sox loaded the bases and Joe Maddon, manager of the Rays, masterfully used five different pitchers to get his team out of the inning unscathed.  The Red Sox certainly had their chances in the deciding game of the series, with men on base and even in scoring position several times – only to be left stranded by a combination of good pitching by the Rays and less than optimal hitting by the Sox.

Lest I seem cavalier or uncaring about the loss, as a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation, I’m distraught.  To see Big Papi flailing at low pitches and Jason Veritek basically useless with a bat in his hands makes want to cry.  After losing three games straight in the series, I tried to dismiss my team to avoid an emotional breakdown.  As usual, the Sox roared back and gave me hope only to make me have a bigger breakdown after the eighth inning last night – when it was clearly over.

In any event, thanks to the Boston Red Sox for a fun season.  The team is always a blast to watch and Red Sox games are a centerpiece for my summer activities.  I look forward to another successful season in 2009.

Was that the last time we’ll see Jason Veritek in a Red Sox uniform?

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 October 20th, 2008  
 Will  
 Red Sox  
   
 7 Comments
29
Oct

Red Sox Win World Series. Now Maybe I Can Get Some Sleep

It’s great that the Sox have won another World Series.  It’s great because I’m a die hard Red Sox fan and because the Series is finally over and I might be able to start getting some sleep.  I might even drink less.  I’m ecstatic and exhausted.  It’s not just the emotional exhaustion that is part and parcel of being a member of Red Sox Nation where even a five run lead doesn’t feel comfortable and Manny Ramirez’ random fielding efforts make any right-handed hitter a threat for extra bases.  It’s the fact that Fox and MLB don’t start games until 8:30 EDT and for some reason, a baseball game can’t be completed in less than four hours – and that’s a relatively quick game in the playoffs.  What’s up with that?  Do you really need to fix your gloves after every swing or take a walk around the pitcher’s mound between pitches?  And no, David Ortiz is not a threat to steal second base.  Stop throwing over there to hold him on the bag.  Geesh!

I guess that I have to admit that the sheer number of hits and runs in this year’s World Series has something to do with the longer games.  In the four game series between the Red Sox and the Rockies, there were 76 hits (47 of them by the Sox) and 39 runs scored (29 of them by the Sox).  That kind of hitting takes some time, as does all the time it takes to change pitchers.  Between the two clubs, there were 30 pitching changes made (13 by the Sox).  How many warm-up throws is that?

The Red Sox looked good and were clearly the better team.  As it was with the World Series victory in 2004, this championship series was a bit anticlimactic after the Sox went 3-1 in the ALCS and came back to win.  Nonetheless, there were a couple of close games and some excellent play by both teams.  The Rockies are young and talented and will have many good years ahead of them.  Now that Denver fans know they have a ball club in town, maybe more people in Colorado will start getting ulcers like Red Sox fans.

Although there were tense moments, the Red Sox held the best record in baseball for almost the entire season.  They played well in all facets of the game and did it with a combination of young talent and seasoned veterans.  In the off-season, there are certainly some decisions to be made, but it looks like the Sox will have the talent to be a contender for several years to come.  I’m looking forward to all of them, but right now, I need to go focus on the Patriots.  Thankfully, there haven’t been as many tense moments in their season yet.

Thanks, Red Sox, for a great season!  

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 October 29th, 2007  
 Will  
 Red Sox  
   
 2 Comments
26
Oct

Hey Rockies . . . Welcome to Sea Level

World Series Game 2 from the Green Monster World Series Game 2 - Prudential Center

Ok, I know I dismissed the Red Sox when they were down 3-1 to Cleveland.  But everyone in Red Sox Nation knows that the Sox won that series precisely because I rationalized their defeat.  If I had guaranteed a victory an even let thoughts about a potential victory enter my mind, they would have lost.  If you think this is sick or contorted logic, you obviously are not now nor have you ever been a New England Sports fan.

Last night, my son and I sat on Fenway’s Green Monster at game 2 of the World Series (the picture above is from where we sat and the other picture is of the lights of the Prudential tower behind the scoreboard at Fenway).  The game (Sox won 2-1) was much better than game 1 (Sox won 13-1), but not as much fun.  When you sit on the Green Monster, everything is about home runs.  There were none last night.

Last night’s game was close.  The Rockies could have won it if it weren’t for the 7 walks given up by Colorado pitchers and the lights-out performances from the Sox bullpen.  Over the next few games, the showdown is not likely to be about starting pitching, but instead, the bullpens of both clubs.  At this point, it’s hard not seeing the Sox winning the battle in that department.  I think the Rockies will be strong at home, though, and there should be some more exciting and close games in the series.

Now I’ve gone and done it.  I said something positive about the Sox’ chances.  Hope I didn’t ruin it . . .

 October 26th, 2007  
 Will  
 Red Sox  
   
 1 Comment
21
Oct

You Know You’re in New England When . . .

Fall is great in New England.  The trees are alive with blinding color, there are great events everywhere like this weekend’s Head of the Charles Regatta, and thanks to global warming, people are out and about everywhere, basking in the sun and warmth.

But nothing in New England is bigger in the fall than sports.  The Red Sox are in the playoffs and playing at Fenway Park, and the Patriots are rolling over all comers.  If you’ve never witnessed New England’s obsession with sports, I’m here to tell ya’ that it’s not something isolated to a few sports fans.  It’s part of the culture.

Yesterday, I attended my niece’s wedding.  A beautiful fall ceremony presided over by a justice of the peace.  After the bride kissed the groom, and the two were declared husband and wife, the JP concluded the ceremony by yelling, “Go Sox!”  No one in attendance thought it was out of place.  Welcome to New England.

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 October 21st, 2007  
 Will  
 Red Sox  
   
 11 Comments
17
Oct

Remaining Calm in the Face of the Impending Red Sox ALCS Loss

Anyone who knows me also knows that no one can sanely use the words “sports” and “calm” in the same sentence about me.  I’m just an uptight guy when it comes to sports, especially when my team is involved (before you post a comment with a wise crack about not being just with sports, consider that I’ve gotten a lot better in the last few years and anything you say might interrupt my therapy).  Funny enough, while I’m definitely disappointed about the Red Sox losing three in a row in the ALCS, I’m not that upset about it.  While analyzing this strange fact, I came up with my list of reasons.  These rationalizations have helped me, perhaps they can do the same other members of Red Sox Nation.

  1. The Rockies are on a tear and will, most likely, beat either AL team in the World Series – no one remembers who came in second place anyway.
  2. Other than a small implosion in pitching, the Sox aren’t playing that badly.  It’s not like they’re collapsing under the pressure, which would be really depressing.
  3. The Indians, on the other hand, are playing outstanding baseball.  Their number 9 hitter has two home runs in this series (see item #2), their fielding has been great and their pitching, fantastic.  Getting beaten by a better team or, at least, one that is playing better, is a lot better than losing when you should win.
  4. The Patriots are doing great.  Closing my eyes and thinking about a 60-yard Brady-to-Moss hookup in the end zone washes away the depression when the Sox get behind by 7 runs in a game.
  5. The Celtics’ and Bruins’ seasons are starting.  While both teams have sucked in the last few years, there’s always promise in a new season, especially when both teams have loaded up with new players.
  6. The Yankees lost in the first round of the playoffs . . . again.  While the Yankees losing isn’t as good as the Red Sox winning, it sure makes the situation easier to deal with and is worthy of a celebration all on its own.

Yeah, sure.  It’s not over yet.  The Red Sox were down 3-0 to the Yankees a few years ago and came back.  It could happen.  Cleveland looks really good, though, and it doesn’t seem like Sox pitching (other than Josh Beckett) can hold up its end of the defensive deal.  I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna laminate the list above and recite it to myself to keep my blood pressure in check.

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 October 17th, 2007  
 Will  
 Red Sox  
   
 8 Comments
29
Sep

Red Sox Clinch the AL East

Well, Red Sox Nation has been biting its collective fingernails for over a month now.  The huge lead the Sox held over the Yankees (14.5 games) had dwindled down to 1.5 and stood at only 2.0 before the beginning of last night’s game.  It was beginning to look like a typical Red Sox end-of-season implosion.  Something that Red Sox fans have almost come to expect from their team.  But, as a result of the Sox beating Minnesota and Baltimore’s terrific come from behind victory in extra innings against the Yankees, the season is wrapped up (there are still 2 games to go, but the results won’t change anything) with the Sox dethroning the Yankees from their perennial position as AL East victors.  The Yankees had won the AL East crown for 9 straight years with the Sox sucking the exhaust from New York’s tailpipe. 

The Red Sox clinched a playoff berth last week (their record was good enough to assure at least winning the wild card), which was great, but any self-respecting member of The Nation knows that beating the Yankees is almost as important as making the playoffs.  In fact, emotionally, it’s even more important.  So, there was a bigger celebration last night than last week when the playoffs became a guarantee.

Last night, while sitting at Fenway with my son who, at 17, has none of the angst about the Sox that I have – he’ll learn – I could feel the tension in the stands.  34 thousand people wanting to believe that their team was going to win the division or collapse like it had after holding a lead so many times before.  The thousands of prayers to the baseball gods must’ve done the trick.

It’s been a good season for the Sox, having been the best team in baseball for virtually the entire season.  It looks like they will end the season with at least a tie for the best record in all of baseball.  Pretty cool.  So for now, Red Sox nation takes a breath in sweet anticipation of a successful post season.  Of course, the break is a short one.  Next week all of the nervousness, questioning of management decisions and prayers will begin anew as Red Sox Nation cheers their team on to the World Series.

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 September 29th, 2007  
 Will  
 Red Sox  
   
 6 Comments
04
Jun

Red Sox, Yankees, Fenway

Ah.  Spring baseball in New England.  Classic stadium, epic divisional rivalry, the best team in baseball (the Red Sox) and 50 degrees and raining.  Thanks to my good friend Rick, I sat in the second row behind the plate at last night’s game (did you see me on TV? <g>).  It was cool at game time, which would have been OK, but the skies opened up after the 5th inning and made things a bit uncomfortable.  Further, the game lasted 4:15 – that’s even a long game for nice warm, sunny days.

Most Yankees v. Red Sox games are good.  If not for the quality of the play, at least for the fact that the two teams are the contestants in the biggest rivalry in American sports (sorry Chicago/St. Louis and San Francisco/Los Angeles, this is the one).  It’s the Hatfields and the McCoys dueling it out in an epic battle.   Melodramatic? If you think so, you obviously don’t live in Boston or New York and clearly never watch ESPN.

I’m afraid that the Sox lost this round and in a bad way. Alex Rodriguez hit a home run off the Sox closer, Jonathan Paplebon in the top of the 9th to take a 6-5 lead that they wouldn’t surrender.  But I’m more worried about the fact that this was my 4th Sox game this season and they are 0-4 with me in attendance.  Keep in mind that the team has only lost 10 home games.  Like any self-respecting member of Red Sox Nation, I can only blame myself for the loss last night.  Sorry team.

Even with the loss, it’s still great any time you get to spend the evening at Fenway.

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 June 4th, 2007  
 Will  
 Red Sox  
   
 1 Comment
02
Apr

Red Sox Lose Opener. Season’s Over.

The Red Sox lost their opener today 7-1 to the Kansas City Royals.  Curt Schilling, the Sox starting pitcher got shelled, including loading the bases in the first inning then walking in a run.  The Sox used up another 5 pitchers (6 in total) in their losing effort.  Deja vu all over again in Red Sox Nation.  I wouldn’t be allowed to carry my official Red Sox Fan Club card if I didn’t dismiss the season after losing the first game.  After all, there’s only 161 left.

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 April 2nd, 2007  
 Will  
 Red Sox  
   
 4 Comments
09
Aug

It’s August and the Red Sox are Imploding on Schedule

At the All-Star break, the Sox were the third best team in baseball, behind the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox.  They were three games ahead of the Yankees and had a winning percentage of .616 (yeah, it’s a game of statistics).  Since the All-Star break, they’ve gone 11–13 with a winning percentage of .458.  In the last 10 games, they’ve gone 4–6 for an obvious winning percentage of .400.  They’re now 2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East and falling fast.

As a long-time Red Sox fan, this shouldn’t surprise me.  It’s August, after all.  This happens almost every August.  This year I swore I wasn’t gonna let the Sox get me emotionally roped in but, since I drank the Kool-Aid decades ago, I’m sweating out every game already.  They looked really good this year and I thought we had a shot.  Of course, I always think that – such is the life of a Red Sox fan.

Red Sox fans are already turning to the AL Wild Card where the Sox are one game behind the White Sox and a half game behind the Twins.  Just a month ago we were all saying that the AL Wild Card would probably not come from the AL East.  Now we’re all praying we were wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up hope.  If history has an ability to repeat itself, though, Red Sox fans are in trouble.  Oh well, football starts this week.  Maybe that’ll take my mind off the pain.

 August 9th, 2006  
 Will  
 Red Sox  
   
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