He’s taunting me. That’s the only explanation I can possibly come up with.
The “he,” of course, is our old friend Murray Chass. He’s finally moved on from his Ahab-esque obsession with the J.D. Drew signing. (At least Moby Dick was an actual whale; Chass appears to have come up with the object of his obsession in his own muddled mind.) But he has not, to absolutely no one’s surprise, been able to move on from the Red Sox.
To wit:* today’s gem, titled “Boston Got What It Wanted, Or So It Seems.” Give Chass credit for one thing: he is consistent…in his ability to use odd, unnamed sources to prove a point, even when it’s contradicted by both the evidence and any number of people who are willing to be quoted on the record. Today, he writes that the Sox’s main motivation in bidding for the rights to negotiate with Dice-K was that they wanted to keep him from the Yankees. How does he know this? Well, supposedly one of the Henry-Werner-Lucchino trio told “a person who works as a consultant in Major League Baseball that had they been unable to sign Matsuzaka to a contract, they would still have considered the enterprise a success because he wouldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t be on the Yankees.”
This remarkably thinly sourced item — and to call it sourced at all is generous — is apparently worth a column. Despite the fact that John Henry told Chass this was “malarkey” and “utter nonsense.” So to review: someone who is a “consultant” to MLB told Chass the Sox wanted to keep Dice-K out of New York. Not a consultant to the Red Sox, mind you. Not an MLB official. A “consultant.”
That’s not even the best part of the column. Check this out: “The Red Sox, according to the account that Henry is denying, figured that they would get the negotiating rights to Matsuzaka but would probably be unable to negotiate a deal for him with his agent, Scott Boras, who can be particularly tough to deal with in high-profile bargaining.”
This would seem to be a problematic formulation, and does nothing so much as to refute the entire premise of Chass’s column, because, of course, the Sox did sign Dice-K. How to explain that? According to good ol’ Murray, “[a]s the negotiating progressed, the Red Sox grew intrigued, and they offered more than the $5 million to $6 million a year they had originally planned as their ceiling.”
Wow. This is a player the Red Sox spent years scouting. For most of last season, there were two team employees who followed Dice-K more or less full-time. Never mind all that; Murray’s convinced, on the basis of absolutely nothing, that it was only as the negotiating progressed that the Sox grew “intrigued.”
A couple of weeks ago, Murray got some attention (and not just from me) when he bragged about his insistent ignorance regarding baseball. Now, once again, he’s come up with a column that is contradicted by all the facts and has no real sourcing. And so once again, I’m left wondering: why does the Times print this dreck? And will they ever get sufficiently embarrassed to pull the plug? Past history doesn’t give us much reason to be optimistic. But I’m holding out hope…
(As reader scotthp49 points out, I left out the best part of the article, where Chass points out that Wakefield “had a losing record last season that might have made the difference between the Red Sox making and not making the playoffs.” The Sox finished 11 games behind the Yankees and nine games behind Detroit for the wild card; Wake, who started 23 games, ended the year with a 7-11 record. (It’s worth noting that his peripherals weren’t that out line with the past couple of years…but we know Murray doesn’t much care for “numbers.”) Which means, assuming Wake got the same number of decisions in his starts, he would have had to put up a 15-3 record. (It’s 15 wins and not 16 because one of those losses was to Detroit, meaning if Wake won that game, the Sox would only need to make up 8 games total.) Clearly, the fact that Boston didn’t make the playoffs in 2006 was Wakefield’s fault.)