By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

This is the end

Our three-month-old HDTV was in the repair shop — and we’re a one-TV family. It sounded like the rain delay would be a long one. So I turned off the radio and went to bed. The Red Sox’ historic collapse came to its inevitable end without me.

Three quick thoughts:

1. Jonathan Papelbon had a terrific comeback year, so much so that the assumption he’d be gone after the season had recently turned into “they’ve got to sign him.” I don’t know. These things happen, but if Papelbon stays, I’m afraid he would forever be defined by what happened last night, reinforced by his meltdown in the 2009 playoffs against the Angels. Maybe it’s time to start over.

2. We’re going to hear a lot of speculation as to whether Terry Francona should be fired. That’s natural, I suppose. What I don’t want to hear is Theo Epstein’s opinion on the matter. Epstein shouldn’t even have a say. If it were up to me, I’d keep Francona and Epstein, but if I could only keep one, it would be Francona — the greatest manager in Red Sox history and as good a manager as there is today. (OK, maybe not as good as Joe Maddon.) Epstein has done a good job here, but he’s had a dubious two years, and he’s got some explaining to do. If I were John Henry, I might ask Francona if Epstein should stay.

3. Can the Red Sox seriously contend next year? All of a sudden, these guys look really old, without much room for maneuvering. Last night could truly have been the end of an era that started in 2003.


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  1. wilson tisdale

    Firing Francona would be disgraceful.

  2. Aaron Read

    One of Epstein’s greatest moves was to invest in the tattered Red Sox farm system. At the time, it was hailed as the smartest move ever…in no small part because the hated Yankees had decimated their own farm system by trading everyone away for big-money contracts on over-priced, over-aged, under-whelming “superstars”.

    Yet someone, the Red Sox have recently coughed up HUGE contracts for Lugo, Lackey, Crawford, Dice-K, etc etc etc and, surprise, surprise, most of them haven’t worked out at all. Or haven’t worked out nearly well enough to justify the cost. (see: Adrian Gonzalez, also Josh Beckett’s since his second contract) And they’ve done that by…errr…decimating the farm system. Oops.

    I do think you’re touching on a nerve with the issue of NESN interference. I mean, as painful as it is to admit…it’s also kinda a big fat “duh”. Of course NESN wants superstars on the lineup…it drives up revenues and the Sox are – first and foremost – a revenue-generating business. The problem is, how effective/willing have Epstein and Francona been at effectively managing that “meddling”, as it were? My hunch is, not terribly well as of late.

  3. Aaron Read

    Oh, and FWIW, I think it might be time for Sox management to make a blanket decree: no contract for more than 3 years at $3 million per year. That’s the ceiling. Maybe even 2 years at $2mil/yr.

    You want more than that? Too bad. Go play for some other team.

    The Sox badly need to inject some hunger into their system. And they need to have a system to protects the farm. Christ? Haven’t they learned that their farm system can and HAS generated quality players? And they need to stop being a place where players feel they can wrangle a fat payday out of, and then stop producing.

    And the top end isn’t the only place I’d “fix” the money issues; the guys at the bottom could stand to have a little more love. Wasn’t Papelbon making like $200,000/yr when he had something like 0.30 ERA? That’s both bad for morale but also bad for the system: it encourages a “take the money and run” mindset amongst the players.

    And hey, if the Sox aren’t coughing up $150mil for a useless pitcher every other year, maybe they could afford to:

    A: Stop gouging everyone on ticket prices, or…since that’s a cold-day-in-hell possibly, how about:

    B: Save up to buy out every bar on Lansdowne Street and expand Fenway Park?

  4. The last thought I had coming out of this was that Tito should be fired. There was precious little he could have done to prevent this ship from sinking, and there was also precious little he did to cause the sinking. A new field manager will not be a plus.

    Do I agree with every move he made? Hardly. But, then again, who does agree with every move made by a major league manager? Tito is as good as they come, at least for this situation. If he’s fired, it will not redound to the Sox in any sort of beneficial way, either as PR or in improved play.

  5. L.K. Collins

    The problem begins to fix itself when the Sox’s profitability goes down.

  6. C.E. Stead

    The Red Sox jumped the shark the day they paid $50 million to ‘talk’ to Dice-K.

  7. Mike Rice

    @C.E. Stead: Bingo! What a waste of money.

  8. Jack Sullivan

    Unlike sports with caps, there are no problems that money can’t fix as long as John Henry is willing to open his wallet to bring new bodies in and eat some contract money to toss old bodies out. But that’s why I’m not so bummed about this team. They were more a collection of mercenaries than a likable unit. Except for Ellsbury, Pedroia and a handful of other balls-to-the-walls players, I didn’t have a real affinity for most of them, just their laundry.

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