(Full disclosure: Yes, I am a Yankees fan. Yes, Boston’s recent run of success coupled with New York’s seven-season championship drought has left me somewhat bitter. Yes, the opportunity to rip the Sox in print gives me a sense of twisted, spite-filled pleasure. Moving on.)
Last Wednesday, after a tough 3-0 loss to UMass in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament, a disheartened Harvard baseball coach Joe Walsh informed The Crimson that the Red Sox had canceled the Beanpot consolation game at Fenway Park.
The Baseball Beanpot began play in 1990 and, with the exception of three years, both the championship and consolation games have been hosted annually at Fenway. Therefore, it was quite understandable when Walsh received the news of the Red Sox’s decision with great “consternation,” as the Boston Globe phrased it in an April 11 article.
“We work out our schedule every year to include the Beanpot, and it just hasn’t been a great relationship [with the Red Sox],” Walsh said. “With the new management and their approach and style, I’m glad I’m a Marlins fan.”
How Walsh, as New England as they come, dropped “R’s” and all, became a Marlins fan would make a fascinating story in itself, but the bottom line here is that the Red Sox had broken their commitment to a long-standing tradition and the Crimson skipper was pissed—and with good reason.
It’s been a difficult season for Harvard, which, despite signs of resurgence in this weekend’s four-game series split with Yale, is 4-25 and stuck in a 3-9 hole in Ivy League play.
A chance to play in one of baseball’s most storied venues, Fenway Park—consolation game or not—is an opportunity for the Crimson to forget its struggles and have some fun taking the same field that hosts athletes who many of Harvard’s players idolize.
The Sox taking away that opportunity, especially after Yale and the Ivy League screwed the Crimson out of playing at Fenway last year due to scheduling conflicts, would have dealt Harvard an unfair blow.
But just when all seemed lost, something seeped through the thick skulls of the Red Sox brass. Boston quickly reversed its decision last Thursday, rescheduling the consolation game against Northeastern to today at 1 p.m.
“The [Boston] Herald and the [Boston] Globe were ready to bang out some stories and I think the Red Sox finally felt a little pressure,” Walsh said. “They realized the situation they put us in. They didn’t want a publicity nightmare.”
The Sox had a different version of the story.
According to team spokesman Jon Blake, Red Sox management initially didn’t think that the field, which the Fenway grounds crew just began working on in March, could handle two games in one day.
But then, “when [Red Sox management] had a chance to sit down and discuss it they felt that the field could take two games and we certainly want to live up to our commitment,” as Blake put it.
That’s all well and good, but why didn’t the Sox “sit down and discuss it” before making the original decision to cancel the game? If media scrutiny wasn’t a factor, why did Boston deem its field fit for play only after Walsh expressed dissatisfaction and the Boston papers were ready to make noise?
While the field concerns may have been legitimate, the Red Sox certainly could have employed a more responsible and transparent decision-making process in their treatment of the situation to avoid the flip-flop, along with the confusion and hard feelings that it caused.
Having said that, what’s important at this point is that the Sox eventually made the correct decision and the Crimson will take the field at Fenway today. As Walsh put it, “I’m very excited. It doesn’t matter what happened or how it came about.”
And of course, we should be somewhat lenient when dishing out criticism towards the Red Sox. After all, it only took them a day, rather than 86 years, to figure out where they went wrong this time around.
—Staff writer Loren Amor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.