Are the Red Sox a Likable team?
Is it possible for a professional sports franchise with a passionate fan base to win and be unlikable? Is it also possible for that same franchise to suddenly become likable? The 2017 Red Sox are going to answer at least one of those questions. Maybe both.
The 2017 Red Sox have been in first place for most of this season. However, until recently ratings have been down and sports talk centered around negativity.
Sometime negative talk is sometimes unfounded. However, in this case it wasn’t. This years version of the baseball team from Beantown almost went out of their way to create stories for people to talk about other than the play on the field. From Dustin Pedroia mouthing to Manny Machado, “That wasn’t me.” when the Red Sox pitchers failed to hit him in retaliation to Pedroia getting “cleated.” To David Price trying to show up Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on the team plane.
Most baseball teams when in first place will have a happy fan base. And while I’m sure some fans have had no problems with this team, others have voiced their opinions loudly. Just look on any platform and you will find fans complaining about this team for their attitude.
I have lived in New England my whole life. If there is one constant with the relationship between fans here and our sports teams, it is that we want them to show up, play hard, and not act like divas.
The 2017 Red Sox for most of the season did the first two but not the third. Which in a blue collar town like Boston, acting like a diva can make Boston turn on an athlete or team like no other city. So was this team unlikable? Yes.
When July 31st came around there was a question asked that is asked every year of a team in contention. Will the front office make a move to fix whatever weakness needs to be addressed? Was there even a move available given the lack of prospects the Red Sox were probably willing to part with? Dave Dombroski, President of Baseball Operations, has already traded a ton of top level prospects in previous deals. Dombroski, days before the deadline made a small move to try and fix an offensive problem at third base, trading for Eduardo Nunez and called up top prospect Rafael Devers.
Dombroski traded for Addison Reed from the NY Mets to bolster the bullpen on deadline day. But would any of these moves help this team make the playoffs? Would it even matter? At points,this team was more concerned with not having David Ortiz. Xander Bogaerts was quoted this year stating not having Ortiz was the difference in the offense from this year to last year. Or telling opposing players who was or was not responsible for having a ball thrown at them. Oh yeah can’t forget also being concerned with a team broadcaster calling them out for bad play. Which for the record, Dennis Eckersley has never been unfair with any criticism he dishes out.
By now, anyone can see why this team would be unlikable. This probably reads more like a soap opera rather than a baseball team competing to make the playoffs and win a World Series.
However, something has happened to the 2017 Red Sox. Suddenly the offense is scoring runs. The team is 9–2 in August. Walk off wins and extra inning wins are the norm. The drama is non existent. They also have a young left handed hitter with power to all fields in Rafael Devers. Devers is delivering hits in clutch situations, such as hitting an unthinkable home run against Aroldis Chapman in the 9th inning to tie the game on Sunday Night Baseball. Eduardo Nunez, a trade acquisition is providing clutch hits himself.
Is this team likable all of the sudden? Some might say yes. Some might still say no. What I do know is that I am more interested in watching this team because they are playing exciting baseball and the drama has stopped.
While no team is perfect, I can say I “like” this team better than the team that called themselves the 2017 Red Sox before August. As for everyone else, I guess we will have to see how the season finishes.