Let me start off my introducing myself. I am a fan of the Boston Red Sox organization, long before anyone called themselves a member of Red Sox Nation. I’m not old enough to remember Bucky Dent, but I can promise you I hate Aaron Boone just as much. I am a historian, following and revering the teams of the past as much as I do the teams of the present. Finally, I wanted to write you a letter to say two words I doubt you hear enough, “thank you.”
You saved this franchise. I’m not talking about your efforts to keep the team in Boston, and Fenway Park nonetheless, revitalizing the fan base, and constantly discovering new sources of revenue to keep the team competitive and profitable. I’m referring to your recent declaration of the team’s pursuit of Mark Teixeira, or moving forward, its lack thereof. I’m sure part of your decision was a financial one, being the owner during these economic times, it would be tough to stomach committing $180+ million dollars over the next 10 years of uncertainty. However, take a moment and let me explain what it means to the me, a voice of the fans and an admirer of all things baseball.
First, you stood up to Scott Boras. Scott Boras! Not even the Yankees could do that. Last year, when they gave A-Rod the “opt out and you’re gone ultimatum,” Boras had his prize player opt out anyway, and then the Yankees bid against themselves to retain the third baseman. When he tried to snooker more funds from the bottom of your pockets, you politely said no thanks and walked away. Then, you had the intestinal fortitude to publically announce it so he couldn’t use you or your organization as leverage against any of the other teams.
Second, you’ve made a line in the sand and I hope for the sake of all things right you continue to stand behind it. We were one Teixeira signing away from becoming the New York Yankees. Sir, we have a first baseman, with MVP-level talent, already on the team. Our third baseman was a World Series MVP two years ago and a clubhouse glue that oozes with professionalism. What do you think Teixeira would have done to the chemistry of this team?
By all accounts, Mark Teixeira appears to be a good guy. Bringing him in, regardless of his ability and fellowship, would have divided the locker room immediately. There would have been supporters, especially in the front office, who embraced Teixeira immediately. However, there would have been a group of loyal players suddenly hurt and seething in the background. Not every starter can handle a demotion as classy as Coco Crisp. We caught lightning in a bottle last year with that situation, and lightning doesn’t strike twice.
Youk may have been offended that, at 29, the team didn’t trust he could carry them in his prime. Lowell, who may be traded after the signing, would have caused a lot of veteran players to second guess signing for a hometown discount with Boston in the future. You can’t just acquire the best player available every year and expect to win. That’s how you end up like the Dallas Cowboys, 13 Pro Bowlers and struggling to make the playoffs. Or the Yankees, who haven’t won a world championship since 2000, when they abandoned their farm system for free agency. Or even the LA Lakers, who had a team with four future Hall of Famers in 2004 but got swept in the NBA Finals by a team without a single superstar.
Chemistry, Mr. Henry, can overcome a lack of talent. Look at our 2004 team, do you really think that was the most talented team in the 86 years prior to it? Do you think we won that year because we had the players with the least amount of flaws? Johnny Damon throws like a girl, Mark Bellhorn had 177 strikeouts that year, 177! Let’s not forget, even the 2008 team had Eric Gagne on it.
You’ve created an “us versus them” mentality on this team. Writers, bloggers, and talking heads across the country are going to be talking about every other team that made a splash this offseason, especially the Yankees. Meanwhile, our team is going to continue to grow as a team, and tire of listening to stories anointing the Yankees as champs in 2009. Remember the Detroit Tigers around this time last year? Exactly.
Look, I’m not saying we’re the USA heading to Lack Placid, but we are going to underdogs in our own division next year. I think that’s exactly the way we want it. As an organization, the Red Sox have returned to what makes them so special in the first place, loyalty to the players, chemistry in the clubhouse, and an underdog approach to everything. We’ve shed the Manny Ramirez superstar mentality and have embraced the Dustin Pedroia prove you wrong approach. I couldn’t be any happier as a fan of this team; so thank you, Mr. Henry, for making me so proud!
I’m not good at ending letters, so I’ll leave you with a quote. I remember reading it on one of the walls in my elementary school, and for whatever reason, it has stuck with me throughout my entire life. I feel it sums up the decision you made in regards to Mark Teixeira and Scott Boras, at least how the mainstream media and pink-hatters will feel about it.
“What is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular.”
Fire Brand of the American League