On a frigid December afternoon at Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox officially introduced their new closer.
Temperatures hovered around freezing outside, but as Kenley Jansen sat in front of the microphone and bravely fielded questions from a beleaguered media, the true chill in the air had nothing to do with winter. Jansen and his family have joined what Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom called a “family” at the most inopportune time. Fresh off their second last-place finish in three years, fans are reeling from the loss of their second homegrown star in the same span.
So, unsurprisingly, there were some awkward moments, like when Jansen was asked if he’d spoken with Xander Bogaerts before reaching his agreement with the Sox. He said he hadn’t, but that he looked forward to congratulating his former Team Netherlands teammate on his new contract with the Padres.
To his credit, Jansen said all the right things. He waxed poetic about Fenway and sweetly admitted the childlike wonder he feels when he enters the historic arena. He complimented Sox fans on their intensity:
"“[Fenway Park] is one of my favorite places to pitch. When you come to Fenway, the history behind it, you feel like a kid again. That’s what I felt when I was in another uniform playing here. It’s a beautiful place to pitch. The atmosphere, seeing how intense the fans are, they get it … Now that I’m a part of the Red Sox family, it’s going to be even more exciting.”Boston Globe (subscription required)"
Under better circumstances, fans would be eating this up. A formidable closer coming to save an unwatchable bullpen would usually be cause for celebration, and it was, before news broke of Bogaerts’ departure about 12 hours later.
When was the last time things looked this bad for the Red Sox? Maybe February 2020, when they traded Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, but at least then they still had Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. Or March 1981, perhaps, when Carlton Fisk signed with the Chicago White Sox because Heywood Sullivan mailed him his contract one day too late. Possibly December 1919, but most people who had to endure the Babe Ruth sale to the Yankees are no longer with us.
Bad times never seemed so bad. So bad, so bad, so bad.
The veteran closer might not be fully aware that he’s boarded a leaky vessel. He spoke about making sure the entire bullpen was ready for high-leverage situations, suggesting he hasn’t seen some of them pitch. At this point, it’s hard to envision many late-and-close circumstances in this team’s future.
Kenley Jansen’s son brightened up otherwise awkward Red Sox press conference
Bar none, the best soundbite didn’t come from Jansen, but from his son Kyrian. As the presser quickly wrapped up and the moderator asked if anyone had further questions for the club’s newest pitcher, a small voice piped up: “I got a question.”
Someone brought him a microphone, and the four-year-old said, “Go Boston.”
It sounds like the Red Sox have a new fan. Good for them, they’ve lost quite a few lately.