Saturday, August 25, 2012

RED SOX AND 'THE IMMACULATE TRANSACTION'


The Boston Red Sox had been swimming in their own cess pool. The players
complained about a snitch, only to go behind the back of their manager with
text messages to ownership trying to get Bobby Valentine fired. Team czar,
Larry Lucchino, the man who hired Valentine, blamed a lot of  the negativity
on the media, and John Henry e-mailed everybody to say everything was all
good. This was the mother of all reality shows and if legendary television producer
and part-owner of the Red Sox could find a way to package this one up and
sell it to Fox, he'd dwarf the amount of money  he made off, "The Cosby's."


Drama is not always a bad thing in baseball, though. The Oakland A's hated
each other but won three consecutive World Series titles in the mid-70's and the
New York Yankees had enough controversy during the latter part of the
decade to earn the "Bronx Zoo" label. But they put all that aside to win two
championships.

Trouble with these Red Sox, they play with all the passion and heart of
the Chinese badminton team exhibited during the London Olympics. The Red
Sox only showed fire when it came to tossing the manager under the bus or
throwing strikes in Josh Beckett's bowling tournament. Only four of them
bothered to show up to Johnny Pesky's funeral earlier that day, but they were
out in full force to roll their balls down then lanes that night. The chicken wings
and beer must have sealed the deal to get them there. Playing in "America's
Most Beloved Ballpark", the fans saw a team on the field they had come
to hate.


The 2012 season is a disaster and the near future was about as bright as
Chad Ochocinco's. Several bad contracts would tie hands and close the checkbook
for years. Bad people (Beckett, Lackey, Gonzalez) would poison the clubhouse
for quite some time. Fans were souring on an ownership group that seemed to
care more about soccer, NASCAR, and selling as many pink hats as they could,
than the Red Sox. If image was everything, this team was on the verge of
having nothing. They needed a miracle. The Red Sox got it on Friday, August
24, 2012.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were awarded a waiver claim they put in on
Adrian Gonzalez. The Red Sox were hoping that someone would take the bait
and reel in their albatross. The Dodgers took it. A new ownership group with Magic
Johnson is obsessed with star power and they had a bunch of them near the
Boston Harbor there for the taking.


They saw the the Los Angeles Angels, a Bubba Watson tee shot away from their
home, sign Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, trade for Zack Greinke, and have Mike Trout
develop into an MVP candidate. That star power was raiding the Dodgers fan base
and cutting into their television ratings. Magic Johnson knows about star power and
he saw the Lakers , his former team, acquire Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to go
along with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. The new ownership group, with an expected
mult- billion dollar television contract with Fox Sports Net, wanted to put a stamp
on their team and create a buzz. The team was still in the hunt for the playoffs and
this was a chance to strengthen it, as well.

Adrian Gonzalez was the big fish they wanted to hook. Playing in the same division
for years, Gonzalez had put up phenomenal numbers with the San Diego Padres and
with his Mexican heritage, the ownership group knew what happened the last time
the Dodgers had a Mexican star. Fernando Valenzeula turned Los Angeles upside
down and helped fill the seats and attract an untapped demographic. It all translated
into more ticket and merchandise sales, not to mention higher television ratings.


They wanted Gonzalez and they'd do almost anything to get him. Anything included
taking Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford and what was left on his mind-boggling $142
million dollar contract. In their wildest dreams, the Red Sox never believed they could
get anyone to take an ornery player like Beckett, the remaining $36 million on his
contract AND Crawford. W.C. Fields once said, "There is a sucker born every
minute." In baseball, there is a sucker born every 30 seconds. Tom Hicks, the former
Rangers owner is still a laughingstock throughout the league for giving A-Rod a $250
million contract when nobody else offered more than $180 million. Scott Boras got
the Red Sox to give J.D. Drew a contract worth $75 million when nobody else
wanted him.

The new Dodgers entered this world with their heads clearly stuck up their ass.
The  Dodgers  took three players the Red Sox couldn't wait to get rid of and took
on nearly  $260 million in future salary. In addition, they chipped in James Loney
and four pretty good prospects. Most teams, when taking on huge contracts, usually
send back a bag of baseballs or a year's supply of soda for the clubhouse, only
because they have to make it appear like it was an actual trade instead of a salary
dump. This trade is a miracle,  the "Immaculate Transaction".

The Red Sox had made some god-awful mistakes by giving Crawford a contract
worth $142 million to a guy who had never hit 20 home runs or drove in 100 in
his career.  He couldn't handle Boston and looked more afraid of taking the field
(when he was healthy)  than former Red Sox legend, Edgar Renteria. Beckett
turned into pure poison, more interested in playing golf than pitching. He had to
go. The Red Sox won't miss Gonzalez. Yes, he can hit and play defense. But he
was turning into a prima dona of Brett Favre-like proportions. He had the leadership
skills of Sarah Palin and his home run production  s dropping. 15 home runs this
year? Skip Bayless should be outing AGonz as a previous steroid cheat. Who
averages nearly 40 home runs in his career and then drops to 15? Ridiculous.


The Red Sox ownership group should warm up the Duck Boats and plan a
parade around Boston for Monday. In one day, they flushed a lot of the toxins
and  bad contracts that were crippling them, down the toilet. I can hear Larry
Lucchino  now, "Are you  kidding me? We got somebody to take Carl Crawford
who just  underwent surgery and  can't play until next May and has a contract
worth $100 million. We should have asked if they wanted John Lackey, too."
They must be doing high-fives, low-fives, fist bumps, chest bumps, and giving
each other pats on the back.

This is one of the greatest trades in major league baseball history. But it's not
because of what the Red Sox got, but what they got rid of. In a season where
everything has gone wrong, this is so right for them. It's close to a miracle. It should
be known as the "Immaculate Transaction."

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