Dear Red Sox,
Over the past few years, we've had some ups and downs, fooled around a little, thrown caution to the wind. I feel kind of foolish now for bringing this up, but I have to know where this is going.
I want a relationship.
I know, I know … I thought it was all about the winning. And it is. Most of the time. But the tumultuous nature of the last few years has taken its toll on all of us, and I simply don't know what to expect from you anymore. I find you impossibly unpredictable. And the uncertainty has me walking on eggshells because I simply have almost no confidence in you anymore.
"We've got to get out of that cycle,'' general manager Ben Cherington said at the general managers meetings in November. "We're determined and we know we have to put ourselves in a position to sustain a level of success, year in and year out. I think we have the resources to do that, the people to do it. So we're going to work as hard as we can to build a winning team for 2015.
"Even more importantly, our hope is we turn that into something that's more sustainable over the long haul.''
See? You even said it yourself.
Even more importantly, our hope is we turn that into something that's more sustainable over the long haul.
Sounds like you want a relationship, too.
Of course, it's one of the oldest questions in life, let alone sports: what price would you pay for a championship? If you had to finish in last place two or three times to be guaranteed a title, would you do it? Would it be worth it? Most of us would say yes. Most of us would argue that the championship validates everything. Most of us would accept the consistent lows for the one, glorious high.
Then came the Red Sox of 2012-2014, who were really born in late 2011. And so the theory has been put to the test.
Just look at how the last four baseball seasons in Boston have ended. It hasn't exactly been a joyride. In 2011, the Red Sox self-destructed in an avalanche of apathy and finger-pointing. Heads rolled. Ringmaster Bobby Valentine took over the circus for 2012 and heads rolled again. Then came the magical, unexpected season of 2013, the championship that set everything right again. John Farrell brought stability. And we thought we were through the worst.
As it turned out, we weren't.
Now there are people thinking about a championship again, and, well, I'm a little worried. If 2013 was as fluky as many of us now believe it to have been, why would we expect it again? It seems like wishful thinking. It feels reckless. The last three or four years have suggested that you simply cannot handle success, and I frankly wonder where this is all headed beyond 2015.
Do I want a championship? Sure. Of course. And maybe this is merely a sign of the spoiled times we live in during this Golden Age of Boston sports, but I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I want more.
Over the winter, you showered me with gifts. You gave me a $95 million investment in Pablo Sandoval, an $88 million jewel in Hanley Ramirez. You traded away unfulfilled promise (Will Middlebrooks) and gave me some starting pitching. The only thing you didn't give me was Jon Lester, which was something we all desperately wanted, but you did enough to make me think you care again.
Here's the problem: Sandoval and Ramirez feel like gifts to pacify me. To some degree, so do Justin Masterson and Rick Porcello, both of whom are signed for only one year. For the last few years, I have been hearing about the potential of Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart, the arm of Henry Owens and the legs of Mookie Betts. All of those players represent a future I can cling to. And so as much as I want Sandoval and Ramirez to excel, I want Bogaerts, Betts and the rest to become anchors for the next 4-5 years, to give us stability in our relationship, to give us something to stand on going forward.
In the end, I don't know if I could ever leave you. I probably care too much. But overall, the last three years have been nothing if not exasperating, even downright exhausting, and I have been struggling with the uncertainty of it all. The end of 2014 was the definition of emptiness for me. The 2013 season lost value as quickly as it gained it, all because there was nothing real to grab onto in the aftermath.
Yes, the 2015 season means something to me. Of course I want more titles. But as you embark on spring training in the coming days, as you set your goals for the coming weeks and months, I'd also like you to take a longer view.
I want us to start building something again this year. I want the organization to have a direction and a plan. I want to compete for championships year in and year out because anything less in this market, with your resources, is a cop-out and an excuse.
Yes, I want a championship in 2015.
But beyond that, let me assure you:
If you go back to last place, I cannot promise that I will go with you.
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