The signing of Yoan Moncada out from under the acquisitive New York Yankees leaves a funny taste in the mouth of the Red Sox fan. Is this sweet vindication for the loss of Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury? Is it an act of desperation to avoid losing another free agent import to New York? Is it the passing of the torch to the new Empire? What kind of Empire is it? Calculating or Ruthless?
No one has anointed the Red Sox the new “Evil Empire,” which is strange, given the taint carried by the New England Patriots into the off-season. By outspending the Yankees and the Dodgers for the Cuban phenom, the Sox would appear to be the heir-apparent to the dollar-sllnging East-West coast juggernauts– the teams always named when bidding wars break out. But no, the Red Sox are called strategic, building their stockpile of position-players, as the wisest of the Major League teams have planned. The lucre heaped up on the table carries no stigma of reckless greed. Ben Cherrington is mentioned in tandem with the great empire-builder Theo Epstein, another big spender dreaming large.
Anyone for a Cubs-Red Sox World Series? Perhaps they can keep their underdog identities until October, without mention of their payroll largesse. Perhaps they will merely answer to the name “pace-setter” without mention of the stars they bought out from under their rivals. Perhaps they will vie for the distinction of a line-up built for the new baseball, the faster, pitcher-driven game, the deep bullpen and the ample bench. Perhaps it is genius and not boundless wealth that wins games in 2015.
Maybe the Red Sox were spared the “evil” moniker because they were overspent on Jon Lester. Maybe their reluctance to deal for the so-called “ace” for their pitching staff made them appear middle class and frugal. What if they suddenly unload their treasure chest for Cole Hamels. Would that turn the tide?
The Red Sox are one trade away from acquiring the “evil” taint. If they step into the season as the prohibitive favorite in the American League, they may yet lose their Fenway lustre, the reconstructed team playing in a rickety ball park. With the flick of a pen, they could become the team they hated, the team representing the one per cent, the team America loves to hate.
Still it beats being the lovable losers.