To fully grasp the significance of the moves the Red Sox continue to make to bolster their World Series chances, we must flash back to February 2004. The Yankees had just acquired Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers, snatching him from the Sox at the eleventh hour.
Boston owner John Henry, clearly displeased and stung by the turn of events, said in an email that baseball’s economics were “woefully out of whack,” and that a salary cap should be installed to level the playing field.
Late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was not going to let such comments go without firing back.
“We understand that John Henry must be embarrassed, frustrated and disappointed by his failure in this transaction,” he said. ”Unlike the Yankees, he chose not to go the extra distance for his fans in Boston. It is understandable, but wrong that he would try to deflect the accountability for his mistakes on to others and to a system for which he voted in favor. It is time to get on with life and forget the sour grapes.”
This was salt in the wound for Boston fans. As much as they hated Steinbrenner, deep down he was right. There was no reason this deal should have fell through, and seeing A-Rod in pinstripes was darn near unforgivable. For a fanbase that had seen 86 years pass by without a title, it looked like the Curse of the Bambino would continue to haunt the city for years to come.
Fast forward back to 2015, and those seem like ancient times. Boston won the World Series that year after pulling off the greatest comeback in the history of baseball against Steinbrenner, Rodriguez and the Yanks. Since the A-Rod deal, the Red Sox have won three championships to New York’s one. Ever since Steinbrenner passed away in July 2010, his franchise has become a zoo, full of bad contracts, postseason failures and steroid controversies.
Henry’s franchise, on the other hand, has finally gone the extra mile for their fans; year after year they sign a big-time free agent or make a blockbuster trade. This offseason’s pickups of Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson would have been enough, but there was one more move to make to infuriate their biggest nemesis. That move was made today, when the Red Sox signed Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada to a deal that includes a $30 million signing bonus.
With a 100 percent overage tax, the Sox are ultimately committing $63 million to Moncada, an infielder who has been compared to Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano. The move continues Boston’s Cuban domination of late; they signed outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72 million deal last season.
Besides their country of origin, what do Moncada and Castillo have in common? The Red Sox and Yankees engaged in a high-level bidding war for both players, and John Henry’s crew beat out the Evil Empire each time.
Baseball’s script has been flipped the past five years or so. Instead of New York landing all the big-name players and lambasting their rivals in Massachusetts, it’s the Bostonians who have been able to talk some trash and dream about adding another trophy to the collection. Would things be different if George Steinbrenner was still alive? Possibly, but now it’s the boys in the Bronx with the sour grapes as another big signing eludes them.