Whatever the Boston Red Sox need or want, the Boston Red Sox seem to get these days. As a result, that’s prompted one prominent baseball writer with Hall of Fame credentials and Boston connections to anoint the Red Sox as baseball’s new “Evil Empire.”
During an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show last week, Peter Gammons, currently of MLB Network, suggested the Red Sox now represent everything they used to hate about the New York Yankees. That’s based on several recent offseasons aimed at winning now, which has led to the addition of multiple All-Star caliber players.
Here are the key quotes.
“If he (Brian Cashman) rebuilds, and I think the Yankees are going to be really good in two years, and he sees the Red Sox do that, it’s almost like (Red Sox president) Larry Lucchino calling the Yankees the Evil Empire.”
“The Red Sox are the Yankees now, or what they used to be in the Steinbrenner days. I don’t think some of the Red Sox people understand the background and the humor involved, but that was, I think 13 years ago, that Lucchino called them the Evil Empire.”
It’s interesting to note that Gammons acknowledged the irony of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman now showing the patience to build from within, which should result in the sustained success for the Yankees sooner than later.
Gammons’ comments did lead us to ponder though: Are the Red Sox the new Evil Empire?
For those who may not know the history or recall where the term stems from, after New York signed Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras in 2002, then Red Sox president Larry Lucchino responded by saying “the evil empire extends its tentacles even into Latin America.”
At the time, the Yankees were coming off four championships and five World Series appearances in six years. Yet they remained baseball’s most aggressive team in terms of spending money to continue building a dynasty. It worked for a long time too, as New York reached the postseason six of the next seven seasons, with another World Series in 2009.
Perhaps it was sour grapes on Lucchino’s part, but it’s a tag that’s stuck with the Yankees ever since. A judge even ruled it so in 2013. However, as Gammons was quick to point out, there are many similarities with the current Red Sox after Boston acquired Chris Sale in a blockbuster trade with the Chicago White Sox at the Winter Meetings.
Boston’s acquisition of Chris Sale could be another turning point in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. (Getty Images)
Of course, Gammons hasn’t been the only one making comparisons. In fact, Brian Cashman himself made his own analogy, calling Boston MLB’s version of the Golden State Warriors after the latter added former NBA MVP Kevin Durant to an already remarkably deep roster.
“That’s a wow,” Cashman said of the Sale trade, “Boston’s like the Golden State Warriors now in baseball. They got their Durant and their Green and Thompson and Curry.”
It’s a more gentle choice of words, and it perhaps lends a greater perspective to what the Yankees of old and the Red Sox of today are actually doing. After all, Golden State didn’t just buy anyone and compile any player it wanted. It built a foundation from within. Warriors fans suffered through years of losing and waiting as the team’s core came into form. Once that core was established and the flexibility to add on still existed, why wouldn’t they?
It’s the same thing for New York and Boston. Granted, the Yankees may have taken the spending to a new level some 15 years ago, but they established their own core with all-stars like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. Then they added and added and added because they could.
As for the Red Sox, players like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi are the foundation from which they build. If they’re capable of adding a Chris Sale this winter, or a David Price and Craig Kimbrel last winter, so be it.
By Larry Lucchino’s definition, the Red Sox may well be baseball’s new Evil Empire. In reality, maximizing resources to achieve sustained success is just good business.