Sports

The new curse of the Bambino?

As we learned from “Moneyball,” the Boston Red Sox finally embraced the “new school” of statistics by hiring a 28 year-old Theo Epstein as General Manager. Two years later, the mythical “Curse of the Bambino” had been lifted in one of the most dramatic ways possible. Then, after winning another World Series three years later, a funny thing happened – The Boston Red Sox transformed themselves into the New York Yankees.

It doesn’t matter which set of statistics you prefer, or how many scouting reports you have, having the second or third highest payroll in Major League Baseball means you can throw all that out the window and go after any player you want. Having a high revenue stream such as owning your own network also means that you have millions of “experts” that think they know more than your scouts AND statisticians. The extra revenue also provides the luxury of being able to afford signing high draft picks, and the depth of talent allows the team to keep young talent in the minor leagues for a longer time instead of rushing them into “The Show.”

Success became a second “green monster” that kept feeding itself. Not only the Red Sox feel the need to keep up with the New York Yankees, they also had to keep pace with the success of the New England Patriots (3 Super Bowls since 2001), the Boston Celtics (NBA most 17 titles, the most recent in 2008), and the Boston Bruins (2011 Stanley Cup Champions). Their large fan base has now become accustomed to winning 12 months of the year. So in a twist that comes as no surprise to anyone that had ever read Animal Farm, the Red Sox became indistinguishable from the Yankees. If players switched uniforms, you wouldn’t tell the difference. In fact, Johnny Damon, and Roger Clemens played for both franchises.

The historic end of the 2011 season means the Sox missed the playoffs for the second year in a row. Now I don’t mean to be macabre, so I suppose it is a coincidence that it coincides with the passing of iconic Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner. It wouldn’t be out-of-character for George to stick it to his arch-rivals as a parting gift. I mean, isn’t it easy to blames things on something mythical and ethereal such as a curse, instead of looking for something tangible, such as the fact the Tampa Bay Rays have outsmarted, outlasted, outwitted, and out-Moneyballed the Sox, the Yanks, and even the Oakland A’s?

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