BOSTON – It was exactly one year, to the day, that we monitored a celebration on the field at Dodgers Stadium.
Families. Photos. Smiles. Hugs. Thanks. There was nothing but love after a dominating series and Red Sox World Series championship, its fourth in 14 years.
The Patriots Dynasty was still within reach.
The Red Sox outsmarted everyone again.
Or so we thought.
Chaim Bloom, 36, was announced Monday as the new Red Sox head of baseball operations or Chief Baseball Officer as they noted on the press release.
Bloom is an interesting guy. He never actually played baseball after Little League. He attended Yale, studying the classics (in Latin!). He is a devout, practicing Jew.
And, most of all, he was part of the miracle workers in Tampa Bay baseball ops department that somehow helped make the Rays legit contenders in the American League East for most of the last dozen years.
Their best work in Tampa was probably the last three years, with 80, 90 and 96 wins.
Why was he the Chosen One?
Beyond being well-liked, he apparently obsesses about minor league development, analytics and pitching.
The Red Sox, as it looks from here, are slumping, big-time, in all three of those categories.
But I believe there is a bigger hole in the organization right now that needs as much of Bloom’s time and obsession as any of those.
He needs to make it cool being a member of the Red Sox.
What does that mean?
Well, if the Red Sox will overpay, and they have a lot recently, they can get anybody, even guys not suited for this rabid audience – see David Price.
Something hasn’t been right with the Red Sox during the Dombrowski tenure.
Case in point, Mookie Betts.
He has been the Red Sox property a month after he graduated high school in 2011.
He is one month away from 1,000 hits over his career. He has won a World Series here. He has won a league MVP Award. He’s witnessed a few dozen of the coolest Red Sox pregame productions, from Patriots’ Lombardi trophy celebrations to team anniversaries to David Ortiz’s retirement, etc., etc.
He’s played to more sellouts, home and away, than any player of over his six seasons.
He loves baseball. Boston loves baseball. And Boston loves Mookie.
So what’s the disconnect? Why isn’t Mookie signing his 10-year, $250 million-ish kind of deal so everybody can move on to other pending matters.
In an exit interview with long-time Cincinnati Red Sean Casey, who played only one year with the Red Sox in 2008, after the Sox lost to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, he told me:
“If I could wish anything for every player in baseball it would be to spend at least one year in Boston,” said Casey. “There’s no place like it. The fans won’t let you give up. It’s amazing … It’s a baseball heaven.”
Former Red Sox player and current NESN analyst Jerry Remy said sometimes players don’t get or desire the “Boston experience” like us natives think they should.
“I played with guys who came up through the system, but never felt comfortable here,” said Remy. “Look at Sonny Gray. The Yankees get him from Oakland and he struggles his entire time there. Then he gets moved to Cincinnati and he’s back to being Sonny Gray again.”
I understand. But I don’t buy it.
J.D. Martinez is also a prime example. He has spent two seasons here, getting the same benefits of Red Sox Nation, etc., and becoming a household name in baseball, yet it doesn’t seem to matter.
Red Sox owner John Henry is very careful when he discusses the Dombrowski Era. Out of Belichick-speak, he doesn’t like comparing people or departments.
But Dombrowski was the architect of this carpet-bagging lifestyle. He was a hired gun. And he had a big, big checkbook to work from — at least he did for a few years — and spent to the limit.
In the meantime, the Red Sox lost their way.
Mind you, New Englanders/Red Sox fans are different. While we do eat our own, we also, in the end, appreciate those that tough it out.
Case in point is Carl Yastrzemski, who is a god-like figure due to his 23 years and mind-numbing career stats to go with maybe the two greatest, clutch months in baseball history in 1967.
Winning is great. It really is. And in the end, Bloom’s legacy will be based on the Red Sox consistently competing (and winning a few) championships.
But Bloom has other immediate issues to fix, including convincing players that there’s no place like Boston.
You can email Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sox head majored in Classics
New Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom did not play baseball at Yale University, but he did study “The Classics” in Latin.
It’s true. The Philadelphia native, who spent the last 15 years in the Tampa Bay Rays baseball operations department, was a noted writer and thinker at Yale and credits his work there as preparing him for his work in baseball.
“I wouldn’t necessarily proactively recommend a classics major to anybody who’s looking to get into baseball, but it worked for me,” Bloom said.
“I think what it did do was really taught me how to learn. I think that’s a really valuable skill when you get into a game that forces you to be adaptable and rewards that adaptability,” he added.