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The Red Sox Just Traded Away Our Best Player. And You Don't Have To Stand For It

Boston Red Sox's Mookie Betts is doused after their victory over the New York Yankees in a baseball game at Fenway Park, Friday, July 26, 2019, in Boston. (Elise Amendola/AP)
Boston Red Sox's Mookie Betts is doused after their victory over the New York Yankees in a baseball game at Fenway Park, Friday, July 26, 2019, in Boston. (Elise Amendola/AP)

The Red Sox have received a richly deserved skewering from the local and national media over their decision to trade Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers. It is a horrible trade for a host of reasons.

But if you are a Red Sox fan, well, it’s on you. You are not powerless. Are you still going to purchase the most expensive seats in baseball? Are you still going to watch their games on NESN or buy their merchandise? Here’s a not-so-dirty little secret — the Red Sox front office knows you will and they are banking on it.

The Red Sox are behaving with Trumpian arrogance, knowing full well they can trade their best player and one of their best pitchers with absolute impunity. It’s the MLB equivalent of saying you could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.

If they didn’t already have a wall, I could almost imagine Henry saying he’d build one — and the Yankees would pay for it.

Maybe the Red Sox brass — and this one is on management and ownership — picked up a few pointers from the president in their ill-advised, misguided trip to the White House last year. Because the Red Sox are trying to convince you, the fan, that they need to get below the luxury tax threshold — cue the laugh track — and unloading one of the best players in baseball is the only way to get it done.

To drive home the sheer idiocy of this economy-based move, Sports Illustrated reports that John "Henry’s Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox, Liverpool FC and Roush Fenway Racing, among other properties, was recently valued at $6.6 billion."

It’s the MLB equivalent of saying you could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.

They are counting on you, their base, to simply shrug, move on and, well, how many days is it until pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers? They know they can count on you because you have been reliable sheep. They know you will show up, sit in those uncomfortable seats, pay extortionist fees for food and beverages, sit through at least three hours of mostly abject boredom and come back again.

They can say, we survived when Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury left for the Yankees. We survived after we lowballed Jon Lester and traded him to the A’s. Aha, they will say, we’ve still got Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, J. D. Martinez and Rafael Devers. We’ve still got Chris Sale. OK, we don't have a manager and we’ve unloaded 40 percent of our starting rotation, but, honestly, how much are you really going to miss Price? Or Rick Porcello?

Betts is another matter entirely. You build a franchise around players like him. Yes, he could have left in free agency after next season. Or the Red Sox could have shown him the money, as the Angels did with Mike Trout, and he’d be a Red Sox forever. That is what should have happened.

Instead, we have a team that prints money arguing for the need to avoid a tax bill as the reason to trade its best player. An All-Star. A former Most Valuable Player. A regular Golden Glove recipient. A great locker room guy. A guy who one might think you’d want as the face of the franchise, a franchise which will soon need some face-saving if the shenanigans over sign-stealing prove to be true.

The team just raised its collective middle finger to its fan base and used money concerns as its primary reason. And this comes after the team raised ticket prices yet again.

Trump has an intense, loyal following who does not believe he lies, does not believe he deserved to be impeached, does not believe he can do anything wrong.

John Henry and his Red Sox cabal are no different. They have a fervent, dedicated fan base who they know won’t desert them. They even recruited David Ortiz to shill for the need to trade Betts, which is especially rich given that Ortiz complained about his contract when he wasn’t complaining that he never use PEDs.

The Red Sox may have punted on the 2020 season, as the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy wrote, but they know you, their dedicated fan base, has not.

Voters can express their displeasure at the ballot box. Fans can do the same by holding on to their wallets. The Red Sox just traded a player who former Globe columnist Leigh Montville compared to Willie Mays. The team had to expect the inevitable and justifiable blowback from the media.

What it is not expecting is any blowback from you, the fans.

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Peter May Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Peter May was a sports writer at the Boston Globe for nearly two decades. He now teaches journalism at Brandeis University and is an occasional contributor to the New York Times.

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