A skeptic fan on Red Sox management changes


I still have the remaining vestiges of inherent cynicism in my psyche from decades of being a member of “The Fellowship of The Miserable.” I previously assumed that I had managed a baseball exorcism of those demons, but somewhere in my baseball genetics they remain.

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The latest management changes within the Red Sox have certainly elicited a certain level of positive hope among the tormented – back-to-back misery – followers of the Red Sox. There are few teams – even within college football – that have such an emotional investment among their fans.

I am and will remain a skeptic on Dave Dombrowski and the front office shuffle taking place.

The drama surrounding Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein is well document. The proverbial “he said, she said” that culminated in Epstein abruptly packing his bags and gorilla suit and moving on. Whatever issues plagued both they were resolved and Theo returned until he eventually moved on to the Cubs.

Was the ongoing saga a rebellion against “Daddy?” Just what level of control did Theo have? What were the dynamics between LL and Epstein? I don’t have the answers, but we all have the gossip. Now have the players changed, but the same situation exists?

Is Dave Dombowski the new LL and Mike Hazen the new Epstein? As a cynic and natural born conspiracy theorist (that damn grassy knoll) I will remain unconvinced that some level of significant string pulling exists. What this does is – yes, I know – debase the potential contributions of Hazen to the level of a six or seven figure errand boy. Or is the errand person?

Baseball is similar to just about any other structure with the public area, private, religious, educational and just about any other domain where personnel decisions are made – the existence of the proverbial “Good Ole Boy” network. Sometimes who you know is of far more value than what you know. Baseball has this aspect firmly entrenched. You can delineate a connection in just about every hiring situation in baseball.

Dombrowski is representative of it. Dombrowski has brought in familiar faces to resuscitate the franchise. There is even speculation that a managerial replacement may be in the works. There is nothing wrong with this – since you wish to have on board those you feel comfortable with, respect their work effort and will have everyone on the same page with a clearly defined outcome expected.

But, to me, it harkens back to those dreary Tom Yawkey years where a small clique surrounded Yawkey. His “buddies” who were drinking companions and operated the ball club. As an owner, Yawkey could do as he pleased and the result was a string of disappointing disasters.

Dombrowski has experience at rebuilding and dismantling baseball teams. Miami or Detroit. Capable of doing both when so directed. There are plenty of positive adjectives attached to his name, so I assume he is a solid “baseball man.” Now that is a tedious and well-worn expression.

The Red Sox have created a “loss leader” with their team. The magic of mechandizing has made the Red Sox a product to be associated with. Win or lose you have a loyal, well educated, passionate and rambunctious fan base. The Red Sox have created a financial empire on local real estate and the driving force is the Red Sox. The value of the team is certainly in the top five in MLB.

Is all this a preparation to sell?

Hedge funds do not hold a position forever and John Henry is a sharp dealer with his company, so is the potential for a sale within the next few years a distinct possibility? Is Dombrowski’s intent to rebuild and restore the Red Sox to playoff contention as soon as possible to increase value and attractiveness to a potential group or individual? The current ownership has held the franchise for a considerable length of time and one member has already moved on to emeritus status. Is that just the first step in an exit strategy?

The intelligent approach – a tactic I have never been accused of obeying – is to exhibit some patience, faith and allow the professionals to proceed unabated by fellow doubters. But I have those lingering doubts that the Red Sox have ventured into some novel approach to management – a “Debbie Downer” reflex action.

One likes to think the best of people and their motives. I may – and hope I am 100% incorrect – be jumping the gun without allowing some degree of time for a proper assessment. Yes, an aura of negativity combined with a quick dose of too quick to criticize – guilty as charged! But there is that gnawing feeling that I have seen all this before and the only change is in the name plates decorating the various offices on Yawkey Way.

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