Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The business of baseball is business. The Globe's Steve Bailey or the Herald's Cosmo Macero should have been put on the case. Because the day-after reaction to Grady Little's firing is supremely unsatisfying. The Herald's Steve Buckley (sub. req.) and, no kidding, Gerry Callahan (ditto) have the smartest takes this morning. But what this story really needs is someone who understands business.

Looking at this from afar, it appears that what's really happened is that the Red Sox' newish owners intend to run the franchise as a business, not as some old boys' club dedicated to their own post-adolescent amusement. In the business world, executives have to manage both down (i.e., handling employees, in this case players) and up (working with the senior executives in carrying out the business plan).

Little did a good job of managing down, but he evidently was lousy at managing up. He openly disdained the ownership's numbers-based approach to the game -- an approach that has become increasingly popular and successful at other franchises in recent years. The Globe's Gordon Edes has a mind-blowing anecdote this morning:

The Sox no longer want to discover, to their dismay, that the manager, according to a team source, failed to hold a hitters' meeting before the Oakland playoff series, wasting countless hours of traditional scouting work and sophisticated video and statistical analysis that was done ostensibly to give the Sox an edge.

This is just derelict. No CEO should put up with this from one of his front-line managers.

Stories like this put Little's idiotic decision to send Pedro Martínez out for the eighth inning -- and to leave him out there while he got his brains beaten in -- into perspective. But Little's self-immolation robbed the team owners of a certain degree of maneuverability, too.

Because despite his flaws, Little might have been better than anyone else the Red Sox could get for next year. In a perfect world, the Sox would have strung Little along for a few weeks to see who became available. If they couldn't get a manager who would be obviously better, they might have signed Little for one more year.

Adrian Wojnarowski, writing for ESPN.com, is irrationally pro-Little, but he is correct when he observes that the Red Sox let him go without having a backup plan in place.

That's Little's fault. He could never have managed here again after what happened in Game Seven.

Islam and terrorism in Boston? The Herald's investigative team breaks through the Bennifer haze this morning to weigh in with a major piece on a Boston-based Islamic organization.

According to the report, the Islamic Society of Boston, which plans to build a mega-mosque in Roxbury, has ties to two men who are virulently anti-American and anti-Israel, Abdurahman Muhammad Alamoudi and Yusuf Abdullah al-Qaradawi.

Both men have praised terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Alamoudi has been indicted on allegations that he illegally accepted money from Libya. Al-Qaradawi has been banned from the US for his pro-terrorist views.

The problem is that it is unclear whether Alamoudi and al-Qaradawi really do have close ties to the Islamic Society. The society itself denies it, and supporters say that it preaches a moderate, tolerant brand of Islam.

There's no doubt that the Herald's findings are of some significance. But how significant? It's hard to say.

Part two, coming tomorrow, promises some answers: "A current trustee of the Islamic Society of Boston has been named in a federal Islamic terrorism financing investigation."

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