Please assign a menu to the primary menu location under menu


Red Sox fans have every right to be angry at John Henry, Chaim Bloom and Co.


Feeling empathy for Chaim Bloom, who couldn’t get two sentences out before being relentlessly heckled during the Red Sox’ Winter Weekend festivities on Friday, requires complex thought.

On an emotional level, it was tough to watch from afar as a nice guy who’s trying his best got booed, shouted over, trash-talked, and embarrassed during an event set up by the team to be celebratory in nature.

But on a more cognitive level, it’s just as difficult to ignore the very legitimate argument that it was all justified. And if fans are given merely two avenues to make their voices heard — vocally and economically — who can blame them for choosing to exercise both?

In the past three years, the Red Sox have committed just about every sin a professional sports franchise is capable of committing.

Losing is one thing. Losing while letting two franchise icons walk out the door without much of a fight — that’s another thing.

Doing it all while continuously being disingenuous with the public and convincing them that every effort was made to keep those two players, then later admitting that they didn’t, is downright nonsensical.

Raising ticket prices is just the cherry on top.

It was three years ago this February that Red Sox principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, president Sam Kennedy, and Bloom, the chief baseball officer since November 2019, gathered in the cafeteria at JetBlue Park to explain that trading Mookie Betts was not easy, but there were three points they wanted to get across:

One, they tried their very hardest to sign him.

“We made it clear to Mookie, I made it personally clear, one-on-one, that we wanted to see him in a Red Sox uniform for the rest of his life,” Henry said then.

Two, the trade was not financially motivated, but rather a strategic move.

“We’ve tried to be clear that this was not exclusively about the CBT (Competitive Balance Tax) and getting under that CBT threshold,” Kennedy said at the time. “There would have been other ways to have done that. You don’t trade Mookie Betts to get under the CBT. We traded Mookie Betts and David Price and got back significant value in return.”

And three, the trade was designed with the intention of staying competitive in 2021, ‘22 and ‘23.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people outside this organization who are very enthusiastic about the talent that we’ve received,” Werner said that February. “The more important issue for us is, what can we do to make the Red Sox strong in 2020, 2021 and 2022? Chaim also told us last week we have a chance to be very competitive and get into the postseason.”

Looking back, the Red Sox haven’t done enough to suggest their actions were aligned with their words on any of those three points.

They were not competitive in 2020. Instead, they often looked like a minor league team competing with no-name pitchers with ERAs in the double digits. They finished in last place. And after a surprise run to the American League Championship Series in ’21, they were back in last place again in ’22.

The players they got in exchange for Betts — Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong — have been underwhelming. Downs is no longer with the franchise. On the last day of the ’22 season, manager Alex Cora was quick to name Verdugo as the player who needed to take the biggest leap forward next season.

As for the financial component, is it true they tried their hardest to sign Betts?

Friday, Bloom essentially admitted that no, they didn’t try their hardest.

“We didn’t sign him because when you make those bets, they’re big bets and … those bets, you all know it and are smart — they are much better up front than on the back end,” Bloom told fans on Friday. “We know that and every team knows that, but if you want to make that type of bet, you better be ready to back it up and surround that with a whole lot of talent, a whole lot of young talent, or you’re not going to win.”

He later admitted the quiet part out loud: “We just weren’t ready to make that bet.”

Fair enough — and if the Red Sox were honest about this the entire time, and if they were honest and straightforward with Betts, if they did the same thing with Bogaerts, if they told the players and the public their genuine intentions and explained why they were doing what they were doing, perhaps the Red Sox wouldn’t be in this position.

They could’ve learned from the Betts fiasco and told the fanbase last spring that they weren’t ready to make Bogaerts a competitive long-term offer because they weren’t sure it was in the best interest of the team.

When the Sox were basically out of playoff contention in July, they could’ve told Bogaerts the truth: a fair-market offer is not going to happen, so we’d like to trade you to a contending team, give you a chance to prove yourself in October and we’ll talk again in the offseason.

Bogaerts may or may not have chosen to waive his no-trade clause, but the Red Sox could’ve at least tried to get some value for him. Instead, they held onto him, finished in last place, called him their top priority countless times, and then chose not to make a competitive offer, something his agent, Scott Boras, has said publicly.

Losing sucks. But the confusing messaging from Red Sox ownership and the front office is further maddening a fanbase that Bloom has several times referred to as “very smart,” including more than once on Friday night.

That’s why Friday night’s event was highlighted by an explosion of built-up anger.

Maybe it wasn’t the right thing for fans to do, to heckle and boo and yell mean things.

But when they have already used their money to make it very clear how they feel — last year’s attendance was the worst since the last ownership’s era and TV ratings plummeted — what other options do they have?


Source link