BOSTON (CBS) — When this Red Sox ownership group took over the franchise in 2002, its mission statement was simple and direct: Bring a World Series championship to the deserving fans of “Red Sox Nation.”
They were bold; they traded an icon in Nomar Garciaparra for two players nobody within 128 had ever heard of. They fired a 93-win manager who brought them five outs away from a World Series berth in Grady Little and replaced him with a man who averaged 91 losses in four failed seasons as Phillies manager in Terry Francona.
They out worked the rest of Major League Baseball to bring clubhouse king Kevin Millar back from Japan to babysit Manny Ramirez, they signed a little known DH previously known as David Arias and overspent for Keith Foulke to end their awful experiment of closer-by-committee. Sox brass spent Thanksgiving 2,000 miles from Yawkey Way at Curt Schilling’s Arizona home after trading a prized prospect for the rights to negotiate a deal with him and returned to Fenway with an ace.
They were after wins, not box office splashes.
In the time following their proactive baseball-first decision-making, they won two World Series championships and were the model franchise of Major League Baseball. Since their Game 7 ALCS loss in Tampa Bay in ’08, Sox brass has prioritized the “sellout streak” over on-field success. They have targeted players that fit the Herald’s back page, not their 25-man roster.
In 2009, Sox ownership was being killed for their inaction so they responded by vastly overpaying John Lackey, who never meshed with East Coast baseball. The awful baseball decision led them to extend Josh Beckett who was “hurt” by the money given to an inferior pitcher. The Sox ended up overpaying him by roughly $50 million. In 2010, when they missed the playoffs, the Sox hired a private investigator to follow Carl Crawford around Tampa Bay and then gave him $40 million more than his second-highest bidder.
All of these misguided moves bring us to the biggest mulligan provided in the history of American professional sports: Magic Johnson and his idiot Dodger owners took Beckett, Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez off of the Sox’ hands, and delivered John Henry a quarter-billion-dollar do-over.
An ownership group that began with the right intentions was given the ability to restart, to get back to building a winner the right way, by ignoring the box office and establishing a team capable of winning in October.
Instead, John, Tom and Larry have decided to use nearly half of their mulligan on $120 million in contracts for also-rans David Ortiz, David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino; otherwise known as the same amount of money Robert Kraft has spent for the 2012 AFC East Champions entire roster.
Wasted opportunity does not begin to describe it.