Commentary

This boss can't be happy

If Sox fans are frustrated, imagine how John Henry feels

Updated: May 9, 2010, 6:53 AM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- We are reasonably certain that no one in the Red Sox organization has secretly tracked communications with owner John W. Henry the way that Gabe Paul, the first Yankees president hired by George Steinbrenner, recorded private phone conversations of the Boss.

That's the hook that should make Bill Madden's new biography, "Steinbrenner: The Last Lion," a best-seller, as the veteran New York Daily News baseball columnist acquired hundreds of hours of conversations between Paul and the Yankees owner from Paul's son, Gabe Jr.

One such conversation, as recounted in The New York Times on Saturday, revolved around the coin flip between the Sox and Yankees to determine where the 1978 playoff game would be held. Al Rosen, the club president at the time, called heads, and lost.

[+] EnlargeJohn Henry
Junko Kimura/Getty ImagesWith the Yankees continuing to dominate the Red Sox, Boston team owner John Henry surely has plenty of tweets in him.

"Heads?" Steinbrenner yelled at Rosen on the phone. "You imbecile! How in the hell could you call heads when any dummy knows tails comes up 70 percent of the time? I can't believe it!"

But after watching Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira unload his third home run of the afternoon off a Red Sox outfielder, Jonathan Van Every, who was pressed into pitching the ninth inning of a dreary 14-3 Sox loss to the Bombers, we are here to tell you that we acquired exclusive access to Henry's tweets (wink, wink) from the last couple of nights.

Here's one:

@LarryLucchino Does it keep you up at night, knowing you cost me both A-Rod and MT?

Henry, you recall, has been known to dabble in the Twitter universe. His ruminations have been much less public since last summer, when a fuss was made after he tweeted "The MT Curse?" when the Red Sox won their eighth straight game against the Bombers and their switch-hitting first baseman, whom the Sox bitterly failed to sign in what they believe was a stacked competition against the Yankees.

The Sox ownership had flown to Texas during the 2008 winter meetings with a full-court press on Teixeira, but had a strained encounter. Word filtered back that Lucchino, whose angry exchanges with the union have been blamed for the Sox failing to close on a deal for Alex Rodriguez more than six years ago, had played the bad cop again.

Teixeira took the high road when he signed with the Yankees, but didn't let Henry's "curse" tweet pass.

"There's no reason to get into it with a 70-year-old man about baseball,'' Teixeira shot back, a particularly stinging jibe since Henry was 59 at the time and romancing his future wife, the lovely Linda Pizzutti, who was in Teixeira's league chronologically.

Since then, of course, the Yankees have beaten the Red Sox 13 out of 15 times, including four of five this season, by an aggregate score of 110-64. They also have won a World Series and this season have won nine of their first 10 series, something they've done only twice in their history, the last time in 1939. At 21-8, they are just a half-game back of Tampa Bay, with the Sox remaining 7 behind the Rays and falling to seven behind the Bombers in the AL East.

Teixeira, meanwhile, became the only Yankee since Lou Gehrig in 1927 to hit three home runs in a game against the Red Sox.

"Probably,'' Van Every said when asked if Teixeira's line drive off the light tower was the hardest-hit ball he'd ever given up in his dabbling as a pitcher. "My memory is too short. I'd have to go back to high school.''

The Sox had looked upon Teixeira as the missing link last year. With their need for a middle-of-the-order hitter even more acute a year later, it galls them to no end when Teixeira goes Gehrig on them.

Last weekend, Teixeira was batting a godawful .136 with two home runs. After his four hits Saturday, which included home runs off Clay Buchholz, Ramon Ramirez, and Van Every, he is now batting .207 with five home runs.

"Same things I say about our guys,'' said manager Terry Francona, no doubt thinking about his own struggling slugger, David Ortiz. "The last thing you want to do is let a big hitter get hot.''

@TheoEpstein Please remind me again of why we signed Beckett for 4 mr yrs and $68m. The NYY beat him like a drum.

Beckett, newly enriched by Henry with a contract extension, could have set the tone for the Sox this weekend when he took the hill Friday night. And in a sense, he did, coming bizarrely unglued in a six-run sixth inning that led to the first of back-to-back blowouts by the Yanks. Lost release point, lost focus, lost composure, in the end, a totally lost effort, despite beginning with five whiffs in the first two innings.

[+] EnlargeJosh Beckett
AP Photo/Winslow Townson The Sox should be concerned about Josh Beckett and the Bombers. Some of his worst starts have come against them, including his last three.

Saturday it was Buchholz, who faced 26 batters in just five innings and allowed 14 of them to reach, nine with hits, five with walks. By the time he left, the Yankees had six runs on the board, then tacked on more after a 74-minute rain delay that only added to Boston's misery.

The Sox should be concerned about Beckett and the Bombers. Some of his worst starts have come against them, including his last three. Going back to Aug. 23, when he gave up eight runs and a career-high five home runs, the Yankees have put up these numbers against Beckett: 18 IP, 26 H, 22 ER, 8 HRs. That's an ERA of 11.

Overall, Beckett is 9-6 with a 5.96 ERA against the Yankees. That's hardly the kind of performance that evokes memories of the 23-year-old Beckett who pitched a shutout in Yankee Stadium in the clinching game of the 2003 World Series.

And Saturday, Buchholz fared no better.

@TitoManager In case u hadn't noticed, I spent $170m on this team. When will they start playing like it?

The disastrous weekend has made the four-game sweep of the Angels practically forgotten. It promises to get no easier Sunday night against unbeaten A.J. Burnett (4-0, 1.99), although the Sox roughed him up last season and have their ace, Jon Lester, coming off his best two starts of the season. However, a caveat: Against the Yankees in Fenway Park, Lester is 1-0 with a 6.23 ERA in four career starts.

The bullpen has been overworked, and it lost Ramirez to triceps tightness, though Francona said he hopes it's a day-to-day thing. No one knows if Van Every can pitch on back-to-back days.

"It's a long day, but I don't know that during a game I ever feel like that,'' Francona said when asked if it felt like the afternoon would ever end. "We're just trying to win. Today we were just trying to piece it together. I don't think feeling sorry for yourself during a game is a good thing to do.''

@TheOwnersWife Care to join me at the Bruins' game Monday night? Want to see a win for a change.

Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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