And just like that, everything’s changed. The Boston Red Sox blew it all up Friday – trading Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers for four minor leaguers and first baseman James Loney. The Sox shed about a quarter-billion – B like you see on the McDonald’s signs - dollars in bad contracts, and vowed to start over – younger, hungrier and cheaper.
This by itself isn’t much more than a headline on SportsCenter. But that trade is the end of an era for me.
When the Red Sox signed Crawford and traded for Gonzalez in one whirlwind week in December, 2010 – a weekend that might have been the last time Red Sox Nation was this overwrought – I called my father in New Hampshire from my house in Texas to talk about the new additions.
We had many of these conversations after I left home – he didn’t always understand what I did for work, and I didn’t always understand why he didn’t want to explore the world – but baseball brought us together.
When I lived in southern New Hampshire, we talked about how amazing Pedro Martinez was, coming out of the bullpen with a dead arm to no-hit the Cleveland Indians for six innings.
We marveled at the sheer majesty of Manny Ramirez’ first swing at Fenway Park, a shot that bounced off the Coke bottles on the left field light standards. He loved the wiles of Tim Wakefield's knuckleball - always enjoying the story of a guy getting it done against the odds.
When I moved to Texas in early 2004, we dissected Nomar’s mental state as he sulked his way off the team, and celebrated when the band of Idiots finally brought home a championship. I remember him telling me that so many people he knew had lived and died without seeing that happen, and that he was more than a little amazed to see it come to pass.
When Crawford and Gonzalez were signed, I called him, and we talked – me doing most of the talking, as usual, about what those players would bring to the team. I was enthusiastic – I thought Gonzalez would be another great thumper, and Crawford would be as electric as he had been in Tampa Bay, stealing base after base for the Red Sox instead of against them.
Three days later, Dad was gone, taken by scleroderma, an illness that had been dogging him for years. In that last conversation, I was trying to be upbeat – I knew he didn’t have long, and I was trying to cheer him up.
Now, nearly two years later, the Red Sox have gone young and hungry, with players like Pedro Ciriaco and Ryan Lavarnway. I don’t know if they’ll be world championship material again soon, but I know this is a team my father would have liked better than the overpaid, underachieving group that has been the Red Sox signature of 2012.