By Mark Paulette,
I will maintain, and argue with anyone who thinks otherwise, that last year’s Red Sox team was not likable. They were uber successful. They far exceeded expectations. But they were not likable.
The team was machine-like. Play ball, win game, repeat. It was clockwork, and it was done at a clip few had achieved in major league history, making it worthy of nightly viewing. But all that winning glossed over a severe lack of character and reasons to be enthusiastic about the club or its players.
This year, the Sox are .500. Losing is as commonplace as winning, and that same lack of character is bleeding through.
Sure, there is Brock Holt, the role player who seems to keep everyone loose with his boyish attitude. And yes, Chris Sale is every bit the bulldog you would want in an ace. But beyond them? What is there for personalities on this roster? The stars don’t shine too brightly.
Mookie Betts seems to be an introvert. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, I myself am introverted when in public settings. But nobody is shelling out the big bucks to watch me shop for groceries, unfortunately. Nor is it my duty to get people excited about grocery shopping.
Andrew Benintendi looks like the spoiled kid that throws a hissy fit when things don’t go his way, swearing and sulking every time he makes an out. A fact highlighted on Tuesday night when he was ejected after grounding out to short stop and proceeding to yell profanities at the home plate umpire while exiting the field.
J.D. Martinez is a robot, whose sole purpose in life is to perfect the art of hitting.
Rafael Devers shows glimpses of flair, but overall still seems a bit too shy (understandably so at age 22) to fully express himself at the major league level.
Xander Bogaerts can be fiery, but unfortunately for him, 2019 has provided little to be passionate about.
Michael Chavis has nosedived since his torrid start, and so too has a bit of the swagger and charisma he brought to the diamond which was a much-needed breath of fresh air for the club.
David Price? Honestly, he was moving the needle more when he was the team’s “bad guy,” yelling at announcers and being surly with the media. Let me be clear, I did not fancy that ‘DP,’ nor do I want to see him back. Now, however, it’s ho-hum, let me show up at the ballpark, do my job (to an admirable degree this season) and call it a day.
Again, is “doing your job” a bad thing? No, it’s fueled Bill Belichick’s dynasty for the last 18 years. It led the Red Sox to 119 total wins a season ago. It’s just when the job is not being done that you realize, sadly, there’s not much to keep you attached to this team beyond the success.
I miss the days of “The Idiots.” When the Millar’s, Damon’s, Manny’s and Papi’s of the world turned trivial regular season games into entertaining appointment television. Even the following generations, the Pedroia’s, Youk’s, Beckett’s and Paplebon’s did their part. The Napoli’s, Gomes’s, Koji’s and Lester’s gave you genuine personalities to root for, even if the score wasn’t always in their favor.
Now, it’s vanilla. If they win, they win. If they lose, it seems lethargic. There’s a lack of energy in the ballpark. Fans are checking out by the sixth inning most nights. Something is amiss in baseball’s cathedral and it’s evident. A large part of it has to do with the disappointment on the field thus far in 2019. But sadly, it can be traced to another simple source, whether you want to admit it or not. It’s difficult to like these Red Sox.
Mark Paulette is the executive producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine