Sox owners make surprise visit, blame media


Sox owners make surprise visit, blame media

BALTIMORE Just so theres no misunderstanding that it was a super-secret squirrel organizational assessment meeting to discuss anybodys job security, the Red Sox ownership group was very public in their surprise appearance at Camden Yards on Thursday night.

This was no cloak-and-dagger meeting that all participants needed to swear a Secret Skull Society oath not to discuss afterward. Because its the snitches, the leaks, the whistle blowers and the menacing media that are to blame for everything that ails the pitiful Red Stockings.

Larry Lucchino stood near the visiting dugout steps at Camden Yards and held court with reporters for 10 minutes in a State of the Soggy Sox Address. The Sox CEO managed to both spring up some eternal hope for his flailing, nowhere ballclub while also chastising the jaded, cynical media for being too mean to his players as they embarrass themselves nightly with conduct unbecoming a ballplayer.

The cynical and jaded media do not necessarily capture the voice of the fan base, said Lucchino in a thought that could be described as both admirably earnest and thoroughly out-of-touch.

While the Red Sox ownership group would much rather take people on a chaperoned stroll around Fenway to gaze at the historical plaques and offer up Fenway bricks at a reduced price, they also now hope that the local media will take a baseball laughingstock out for Little League sundaes after the games.

Tom Werner, John Henry and Lucchino are looking for the good job, good effort treatment from the Boston media and Sox beat reporters as they sink lower into the abyss.

Thats simply not how it works when things are working correctly in the checks and balances system.

At least not from anybody thats actually watching the wretched, uninspired games.

Apparently holding the second-highest payroll in Major League Baseball and sitting 13 12 games back in the AL East is something worthy of praise or admiration. Things would be much better after a few puff pieces about how great a player is to hang out with, or because he always picks up the tab.

Because thats the point of sports, right?

The kid gloves treatment from those around the Sox has been as big a factor in their slow decline from a World Series contender as age, injuries, complacency, arrogance or anything else surrounding this Band of Blowhards.

Bobby Valentine passed off a notion in an interview with WEEI this week that the tough media scrutiny in Boston could dissuade some attractive free agents from coming to play with the Red Sox in the future. It certainly didnt hinder big-time free agents such as Manny Ramirez, Carl Crawford and J.D. Drew from signing with the Sox over the years, and the Sox will always have the money to make up for it.

Lucchino also disputed that notion while testifying to the media.

"I don't think that's a long-term danger," said Lucchino. "I do think there's probably a little bit of a reservation on the part of some players perhaps with respect to the grueling media coverage. You've just got to make sure you pick the right people and personalities to come here to be able to withstand that."

"Every franchise, every brand goes through rough times. No one is immune to the hills and valleys. We've had a long run of success. We've created very high expectations for the franchise. Sometimes those high expectations are not met, and the result is a reduction, a hit to the brand and to the team and to the fan base. If it's broke, we'll fix it."

The bigger danger to the Sox is exactly what Lucchino referenced in the last two sentences. As the dysfunction and ugly flaws of the Boston baseball organization ones that were so well hidden and extinguished by Theo Epstein and Terry Francona in the golden years of World Series titles come floating to the surface one day at a time, players are going to pass on the Sox.

Why choose an employer that seems to really need to get its house in order, and has become a punchline around the baseball world?

Thats not jaded or cynical. Thats just reality.

What isnt reality, you might ask? That would be realistically thinking that this bunch of unlovable misfits has even a punchers chance at the Wild Card spot or the playoffs. But Lucchino was doing his best Lloyd Christmas impersonation from Dumb and Dumber on the Camden Yards field prior to the game Thursday.

He was sayin theres a chance for his Olde Towne Team.

"There are still 44 games left, so technically we are still alive," said Lucchino. "I said to someone recently that you can go to St. Louis and Tampa to get a sense of what can happen after this point of the season. I know it's a bit of a long shot, but it's still interesting baseball."

Perhaps the Sox ownership group should worry less about what theyre saying in St. Louis and Tampa, and worry much more about what theyre saying in Boston. Its something along the lines of were paying some of the highest prices in Major League Baseball, and not getting their moneys worth.

The Sox fan base wants sweeping change at all levels of the organization, they want the chicken and beer crew gone for once and for all this winter and they want a baseball team that they can root for once again like they did in 2004 and 2007.

Because this current group of Sox is largely detestable with a few exceptions and worsening by the day.

The voice of the fan base is furious, and theyre using language thats far too colorful for any member of the jaded, cynical media to get away with these days.

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner


Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”