The Boston Phoenix


Best base behavior

Other towns have championships and franchises. We've got characters. The Red Sox, especially, have characters, going back to Babe Ruth, whose drunken, wanton extravagance and madcap flamboyance with money forced management to put him on an allowance. After he was traded to New York after the Red Sox won their last World Series, in 1918 (Ruth, pitching, won two of the games), the Bambino made off with his winning ways but left his wackiness behind.

And so followed a tradition of weirdness that includes Jimmy Piersall sitting in the outfield and throwing rocks at the flagpole in the 1950s; Bill "Spaceman" Lee, loony lefty pitching hero of the 1975 World Series team, advocating the use of marijuana (his letter rebutting a tirade from City Councilor Albert "Dapper" O'Neil is a classic: "Dear sir: I feel I must inform you that some idiot is using your stationery"); and, more recently, Wade Boggs's addictions to sex and fried chicken, and Mo Vaughn's overturned pick-up truck and side trips to the Foxy Lady.

Piersall had pathos; Lee, irony and wit; Mo, gumption; and Boggs - well, he had an excellent mustache. But Carl Everett, the latest addition to the long line of crazies, has something more: genuine insanity. And menace, too. Who did not fear for the lives of the umpire and everyone else on the field in Carl's infamous foot-out-of-the-box rampage and head-butting fiasco? To his credit, he lets his bat do the talking too, and every time he's crossed the line, the next day he usually retorts with a game-winning home run or six RBIs; and those who point to him as a cause of the team's decline know damn well that without him the Sox would have been lucky to have a .500 season.

Everett is like a combination of the abusive parent and the dotty aunt. He complemented his alarming rages against manager Jimy Williams by offending fellow teammates and sports writer Dan Shaughnessy with doubts about the existence of dinosaurs and the moon landing. He is a source of both terror and hilarity, an excellent scapegoat, but also a rallying point for umbrage against all those things we secretly despise: fair play, team spirit, common sense, and the Boston Globe. When Red Sox fans say "Wait until next year," they are really looking forward to a new season of wackiness from their latest lunatic.
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