By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
So, how about those Red Sox?
What has been a conversation starter among Boston sports fans for generations barely gets a mention as the calendar moves quickly towards the baseball season this spring. In fact, if pressed to choose one word to represent the feeling surrounding the once rabid seamheads that fill the seats and watch the team’s every game on NESN, it would be this – apathetic.
If you think about it, other than the Patriots before the Kraft family took over ownership in 1994, no other franchise in the self-dubbed “City of Champions” has found a way to consistently provide self-inflicted pain to their brand than the John Henry led ownership group of the Boston Red Sox.
For as much as the four World Series titles – the first of which was a generational victory that will never be matched by any other throughout the New England region in 2004 – will be part of the legacy of this group led by the quiet talker, the way that they consistently find a way to destroy the goodwill that these accomplishments have built up in perhaps the most rabid fanbase in the country, is as equally amazing.
Just some 18 months away from the greatest season that the storied franchise has ever had – with most of those tales ending in the most tragic way possible – the Olde Towne Team is not just old news in 2020, they are currently irrelevant.
For the better part of the last decade-plus, poor management has overshadowed championship seasons.
The signing of free agents such as Carl Crawford (2010), Hanley Ramirez (’14), Pablo Sandoval (’14), and the Cuban mystery man Rusney Castillo (’14) are just the tip of the iceberg that helped blow a Titanic-sized hole in the side of the once thought to be unsinkable Sox.
The ownership sanctioned mistreatment of John Lester before the ’14 season by then CEO Larry Lucchino – aka, the most arrogant executive in team history, and that is saying something – led directly to the overpayment made by Dave Dombrowski for a petulant David Price that December.
A move that can only be best described as the Rocky Mountain oyster atop of this shit sandwich that the Red Sox front office had been frying up for years in a spending spree that a drunken sailor would consider being over the top.
After finding lightning in a bottle for the second time in five years with a title in ’18 – despite their inability to formulate any type of road map for the future of the franchise – the Henry-led front office chose the Three Wise Monkeys approach to that offseason.
Their “hear no evil – see no evil – speak no evil” when it came to Dumbrowski’s signings of an eternally injured Nate Eovaldi to a four-year, $68 million contract and extending an already proven frail Chris Sale to a monster deal (five years, $145M) a year before he became a free agent is exactly why Henry’s team will spend the summer as an afterthought, regardless of how many fake sellouts the franchise will claim they have.
The fact that Sox fans had to see Mookie Betts get traded for a guy with a broken back and a second baseman by the name of Jeter to facilitate Henry’s accounting department to get under the tax threshold because the Los Angeles Dodgers were willing to eat half of Price’s remaining contract is maddening enough.
That being said, the fact that Henry and his hapless ownership group fails to take responsibility for the sad shape of the franchise due to their inability and incompetence when it comes to hiring the right front office management to steer their club in the right direction, is the reason why Fenway Park will look like Shaefer Stadium in the 1970s and 80s when Billy Sullivan owned the Patriots.
Half-full and hopeless.
At least they own NESN so the games won’t be blacked-out locally. Based on the condition of their starting pitching staff, Red Sox fans might view that as more of a curse than a blessing come Memorial Day.
Follow on Twitter @KevinMFlanagan. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.