By Kevin Flanagan
Call me Captain Obvious, but 2020 has been a year that we would all like to forget but most certainly won’t be able to. Terms like self-isolation, social distancing, and the most insidious of them all -the new normal – are so deeply burned into our memory that they are impossible to purge.
And while we all stumbled through these times, and alcohol sales reached new heights, the baseball team that not so long ago ruled the city of Boston has found its way into obscurity.
During a conversation with a member of the 2004 Red Sox that changed the course of history for the “cursed” franchise, I asked him a simple question as this shortened season was about to begin.
How many members of the current starting staff for the club could he name?
He paused for a moment and then offered up the names of Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez. His list ended there.
When I told him that Rodriguez had been ruled out for the season earlier that morning due to complications from COVID-19, he had a two-word response.
Worse yet, they have claimed the title of the least talked about team in town.
The much-expected trade of Mookie Betts in early February was the first flag of surrender hoisted by the local nine’s front office that calls Fenway Park home. Even though it facilitated the jettisoning of far from loved David Price as part of the deal with the Dodgers, the Sox still found a way to make themselves look silly in the process.
In his first significant move since being named Chief Baseball Officer – a title that couldn’t be more silly if they called him Grand Poobah and fitted him with a Fred Flintstone-like hat made of fur and horns – in October of 2019, Chaim Bloom pulled the trigger on the deal.
After initially agreeing to a package that included a beefy 22-year-old pitcher LA acquired from the Twins to seal the deal, Bloom balked, and like a 6-year-old at recess that felt he wronged, demanded a do-over.
Not exactly the best first impression for an executive with a made-up title in a town that already looks at ownership and management with an increasingly jaundiced eye, it at all.
The wackiness only got worse when they “mutually parted ways” with wunderkind manager Alex Cora from a cheating scandal that he supposedly was the mastermind behind it as a bench coach in Houston just before spring training.
However, he undoubtedly left his bag of tricks in Texas when he led the Red Sox to a World Series Championship during his first year in Boston in 2018 is what John Henry led ownership group would have you believe.
Nothing to see here, right?
Nevertheless, the sparingly little talk surrounding the Sox as they sink further from the minds of New England sports fans centers on Cora’s return to the manager’s office.
With a farm system that has yet to complete pouring a foundation for a massive rebuild, a pitching staff with more holes than it takes to fill Albert Hall, and an offense that’s been middling at best since ’18, if asked for advice, I would offer Cora one word.
Run as fast as you can from the team that sprinted away from you last spring.
The road to redemption for the Red Sox is likely to be a rocky one. Yet the apathy for the club that plays in the lyric little bandbox of a ballpark can only be expected to continue to grow.
To paraphrase the immortal Dean Wormer, returning to a club that is years from contention and many think cheated their way to a championship when you were the skipper is no way to rebuild your career, son.
Follow on Twitter @KevinMFlanagan.