BOSTON (CBS) – Seven years ago the Red Sox arrived at Wrigley Field in Chicago the kings of the baseball world, ready to face the only remaining team with an asinine curse. Less than eight months removed from a championship run never to be matched again, Theo Epstein was the most admired man inside 128 and the team was poised for another World Series.
I flew out to Chicago that Friday morning in 2005 to attend the game at Wrigley. I vividly remember the pride of those around me, also en route to the game, beaming with joy sporting their World Series championship apparel. This was OUR turn to mock a downtrodden franchise. Wrigley must have been 60-percent Sox fans, and even though Boston got blown out, it was a great day at the old park.
Today as I sit here, once again off to Chicago, the then-boy genius is now the President of the Cubs calling everyone on his rolodex to defend his tenure as GM of the Sox. The Sox are a collection of misfit parts run by a man who is spending his afternoons selling Sox rain tarp tote bags and bragging about a fraudulent sell out streak while the club resides in the basement of the AL East.
How did we get here?
It is well established that egos get in the way of all successful enterprises. That was clearly the biggest issue between protégé and mentor: Theo and Larry Luchhino. But given Theo’s recent comments regarding fighting the “monster” of business development while trying to build a baseball team, it is obvious to assume that the Sox management view the team more as a part of their investment profile than their first priority.
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What is most damning is all the finger-pointing surrounding the most recent free agent busts in John Lackey and Carl Crawford. In 2010, the Sox signed a starter when they needed a bat and then the next year they topped the market by $40-million to sign a left fielder when they needed pitching. Both of these moves flied in the face of Theo’s philosophy, and happened to coincide with comments made by Epstein preaching patience and the need for a bridge year.
While I am the last person to give Theo a pass, he had a rough final three years in Boston. He is no longer here, therefore he is not of main concern to Red Sox fans anymore. The fact is, Lucchino is running this team, and doing a poor job of it. He hired both Grady Little and Bobby Valentine; one cost the team a World Series appearance and the other is overmatched and over his head.
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I would be foolish to underestimate the importance of adding revenue streams to any successful franchise, however, the main priority HAS to be placing a well-built team on the field, that you can then can monetize — not the other way around.
As I print my boarding pass for a return trip to Wrigley, I can’t help but think how much my view of this ownership group has changed in the past seven years. We were once united in a goal for a championship; now Red Sox nation is just a small part of John Henry’s empire.
Chris Curtis has produced 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The DA Show the last three years. Follow him on Twitter @DAShowProducer.