BOSTON — There was a game played at Fenway Park last night, but all the truly meaningful events transpired in the hours leading up to it.
Following Dave Dombrowski's midnight ouster late Sunday evening, the Red Sox couldn't have handled things much worse. The front office didn't hold any sort of press conference, instead leaving Alex Cora to answer for their actions during his normal media availability.
Here are five takes from a bizarre day at the ballpark:
1. Brass leaves AC out to dry
Principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and team president Sam Kennedy were all at Fenway Park on Monday, but when it came time to answer questions, Cora sat by himself atop the Red Sox podium. None of the four execs now serving as acting general managers were present either.
It was ridiculous.
The Sox brass fired Dombrowski less than a year after winning a World Series, and then didn't have the stomach to explain why they'd done it. Cora was trotted out with a manager-in-the-headlights look to field questions well above his pay grade.
The craziest part? Letting Dombrowski go is not a bad move. It's totally justifiable, which makes the refusal to comment all the more perplexing.
2. Cora tries anyway
Put in a spot to explain why his own boss was fired, Cora tried his best to make chicken salad, but really didn't have much to offer during the 22 minute question-and-answer session.
"Unfair or fair, I don't know," Cora said. "The team already sent a statement."
He said a bunch of nice things about Dombrowski, called him probably a Hall of Famer, but any real insight into the decision making process was sparse.
"I think the organization decided to move in a different direction, just like it says in the statement," Cora said. "I don't think they have to go into details. I think the organization just decided that it was time to move on."
3. Optics get worse
It'd be one thing if Red Sox ownership was overseas or something, but they weren't.
The tone-deafness hit a crescendo before the game, when both Kennedy and Werner were down on the field to participate in pregame ceremonies. They certainly had the time on their hands, but still let Cora do all of their lifting alone.
4. Welcome home, Papi
There was some good pregame news, albeit oddly timed.
As "Jesus Walks" played from the Fenway Park PA, David Ortiz jogged up the dugout steps, making his first public appearance since being shot in the back three months ago.
Ortiz received a raucous ovation from the Fenway Park crowd, sauntered to the mound, fired a ceremonial first pitch to old friend Jason Varitek. He then took a microphone and thanked (both Red Sox and Yankees) fans for all of their prayers as he recovered.
It was great to have him back.
5. ...and the game
Oh, and as far as the ballgame goes, Eduardo Rodriguez was excellent again, Darwinzon Hernandez got roughed up, the offense didn't do much of anything and the Red Sox lost their third straight, 5-0.
Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Eagle-Tribune and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason