EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


July 7, 2013

Worst to first

Thanks to their young GM, first-place Red Sox put disastrous last two seasons behind them

The Boston Red Sox aren’t just good right now. To steal a line from the breakfast cereal tiger, they’re great.

It wasn’t long ago, say nine months, that the Red Sox were not only the laughingstocks of Boston sports but were also a distant fourth in terms of prestige among the Big Four -- including the Patriots, Bruins and Red Sox.

Now the other three frachises are in a state of flux or mired in controversy, with character issues, trades and blown opportunities.

Nobody could have predicted this, your Boston Red Sox and all of their good guys, turning it around so quickly, literally going from worst to first. And it was directed, no less, by another kid general manager, Ben Cherington -- he’s not yet at Boy Wonder status as his predecessor Theo Epstein  was for much of his tenure here.

After a few months with six or seven thousand empty seats, Fenway Park is filling up again, almost as it had for a 10-year stretch.

Baseball is officially back.

The day, Oct. 25, 2011, marked a joyous celebration for Cherington, a young New Hampshire native who had worked countless hours to ascend to the job he had targeted since first accepting an internship with the Boston Red Sox in the late ’90s.

Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino named Cherington, then just 37 years old, to the second most pressure-packed job in New England sports -- general manager of the Red Sox (manager, of course, is first).

Cherington’s mother, Gretchen, was at the introductory press conference and assured, “He’s been preparing for this job for a long time. Ben is ready.”

Everything was perfect on Day 1. Then came Day 2, 3, 4, 5 ... not such joyous occasions.

Cherington was left with a core of underachieving, entitled superstars and an out-of-control payroll, which made it virtually impossible to add the necessary free agent pitchers to improve the team.

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