Saturday, August 25, 2012

How Magic Johnson Saved The Red Sox

By:George Leavitt

Wow! I sit in here in disbelief. I can now fanatically root for my Red Sox again. As 37 year old Sox fan I believed I had seen it all. Sitting on my mom's lap at the 1978 one game playoff loss to the Yankees,to my favorite moment as a Boston fan in our section 18 season tickets with my Dad at Game four and five of the 2004 ALCS. Big Papi made the Yankees his female dog. Hearing that chant of 1918 from the Yankees fans all the time. We would respond with Yankees suck. That was all erased in October of 2004.

 In November of 2005 the Red Sox made one of their best trades ever sending a yet to be proven Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez to the then Florida Marlins for young ace pitcher Josh Beckett and a throw in, supposedly washed up third basemen Mike Lowell. We all know how that worked out. Josh Beckett dominated the playoffs and won the Cy Young in 2007, Mike Lowell was the World Series MVP as the Red Sox won their second World Series in four years. The Yankees had nothing on us.

 We then had another great season in 2008 that started with my family and I attending the Blue Jays home opener in Toronto against the Red Sox. That was when I found out that we were just as hated as the Yankees in Toronto. People were walking around with Red Sox suck shirts, I was so proud.It was a great season Jon Lester pitched a no-hitter in May capping an amazing comeback from cancer. Alas another season without a Championship we made it all the way to game seven of ALCS against Tampa Bay where we lost 3-1.But we were spoiled we wanted more rings, we had to catch the Yankees and we were down 26-7. 

 Here is where the downward spiral began, the 2009 season. Management started to cut payroll and some of the players were becoming spoiled just like us fans. The team started off the season at a slow pace but then had a great winning streak. Daisuke was tired from the World Baseball Classic and Big Papi looked like he might be done early in the season. Big Papi eventually came around we traded some young pitching prospects for catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez. Jacoby Ellsbury broke Tommy Harper's Red Sox steal record. We were swept out of the playoffs in three games by the Angels. The Yankees won their 27th ring and we lost half of our gain on them. In 2010 Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez were exciting but John Lackey joined the team and started the "Beer and Chicken Brigade" and for the first time in four years we missed the playoffs. Funny, when they signed lackey I was excited he had always pitched great against us in Fenway, but he got here and could not handle the Boston fans. He did not understand why we cared so much. 

The off-season between 2010-11 was when things appeared to get very interesting. General manager Theo Epstein made two giant signings within weeks of each other Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford securing first base and centerfield for years to come, so we thought. 

 "On May 15, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka were placed on the disabled list. On June 10, Matsuzaka underwent season-ending Tommy John Surgery. Clay Buchholz was afflicted with what would be diagnosed as a stress fracture in his back and was also put on the disabled list on June 17, where he would remain for the rest of the season. Other pitchers including Rich Hill and Jenks spent significant time on the disabled list. The Red Sox obtained Érik Bédard from the Seattle Mariners seconds before the trading deadline, after Kyle Weiland (who was highlighted by his ejection on his MLB debut) proved ineffective. Starting Pitcher John Lackey had the worst season by a starting pitcher in Boston Red Sox history, and ace Jon Lester was ineffective down the stretch, as the Red Sox crashed down to a 7-20 finish, blowing a 9-game wild card lead that they held entering September. Josh Beckett missed a start early in the month after spraining his ankle in a previous start, and was ineffective in most of his September starts after that point. The Red Sox became the first team in the history of Major League Baseball to have a nine-game lead in September and fail to make the playoffs that season, thanks to their 7-20 record in the final month of the regular season.[12] In the days following this historic collapse, the front office and manager Terry Francona decided to part ways, and not exercise either of the additional year options on Francona's contract. After the regular season ended, General Manager Theo Epstein entered talks with the Chicago Cubs to interview for the National League club's vacant General Manager position. The Cubs offered the role to Epstein.
 Soon after the season ended, stories broke in the local media about several of Boston's starting pitchers, including Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and John Lackey, had been playing video games, eating fried chicken, and drinking beer in the clubhouse and dugout during games when they were not pitching. Jon Lester was the first to speak publicly about the allegations, and admitted to eating and drinking in the clubhouse during games, though infrequently, but denied that these actions ever took place in the dugout." 
Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Baseball, announced on April 20, 2011, that MLB would appoint a representative to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Dodgers. His statement said that he took that action because of his "deep concerns for the finances and operations" of the Dodgers.[6] One week after the commissioner refused to approve a proposed television contract that would have pumped much needed funding into the club, the Dodgers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 27.[7] Frank McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers, Dodger Stadium, and the surrounding area at auction.[8]
 An agreement on the sale of the Dodgers between McCourt and Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC, a group of investors fronted by Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter and including former Los Angeles Lakers player Magic Johnson, baseball executive Stan Kasten and film mogul Peter Guber, was announced on March 27, 2012.[9] The total sale price exceeded $2 billion, making the sale the largest for a professional sports team in history, exceeding the approximately $1.5 billion purchase of Manchester United F.C. by Malcolm Glazer in 2005.[10] On the same day, the members of the group announced a partnership with McCourt in purchasing the property surrounding the stadium for an additional $150 million.[11] The sale price of the Dodgers was considered to be far higher than what the team was actually worth at the time of sale. Estimates made by Forbes placed the value of the Dodgers at approximately $1.4 billion, and the winning bid was more than 30% higher than the next highest bid.[12] The sale was officially closed on May 1, 2012."

 On the afternoon of August 24, 2012 The Los Angeles Dodgers  placed a waiver claim on both Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez. Rumors began to circulate that the Red Sox and Dodgers were in talks to move the players in question. I thought all this talk was rubbish, in Boston with baseball being so popular there is always  major chatter around the  non-waiver and waiver trade deadline. Teams always dangle players to gauge interest for off season talks. I also thought there was no way some team would take both the massive contracts of Beckett and Gonzalez a combined value of $158.5 million. So whatever I hit the grocery store, I am in there for about ten minutes. My phone starts blowing up with texts . Red Sox are trading Gonzalez, Beckett and Crawford to the Dodgers, "Get the Front Door Outta Here" I said out loud.
 Where are these people hearing this?How are the Dodgers going to take on $261 million in contracts? I thought. Being a news blogger I thought they were just getting the news I got from the hour before. Especially being a Friday, news flows slower as people are getting out of work and planning their weekend.

  Boy was I wrong, As I sit here on Saturday night August 25, 2012 roughly 28 hours after it all began. Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto are on a plane heading to L.A.

 Carl Crawford will join them next year after he returns from Tommy John surgery. The Red Sox will get back in return  first baseman James Loney, infielder Ivan Dejesus, top pitching prospect Allen Webster. Two players to be named  later believed to be top outfield prospect Jerry Sands and another top pitching prospect Rubby de la Rosa. They also took  one quarter of a billion dollars in overweight salary off our hands. Thanks Magic.

* All quoted text from
*Dodgers players on plane Nick Punto's twitter
*Bird Magic photo
Ortiz 04 walkoff

No comments:

Post a Comment