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The streak ending and other random thoughts

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  April 11, 2013 01:40 PM

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It was very healthy thing that the Red Sox did on Wednesday when they finally put aside their creative accounting and admitted the Fenway Park sellout streak was over.

It was the latest sign that the organization after several years of near delusional entitlement finally gets it.

It started last August when they traded Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers. That was acknowledgment that making big headlines in December is not always a good way to build a good baseball team.

It continued when they fired Bobby Valentine and his coaching staff and replaced them with a group of professionals whose goal is to make the team better and not stab each other in the back.

Then the Sox spent their money wisely, remaking their roster with a large group of solid free agents instead of one or two big-name stars. They vetted those players carefully, too, recognizing that their market is different than others and that some personalities are better fits than others.

Along the way, GM Ben Cherington hired several long-time scouts (Eddie Bane and Tom Kotchman) and former players (Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez) to help advise him. It was a sign that he would factor in the opinions of experienced people instead of over-relying on statistical data.

Now the Sox are dealing with Fenway Park and hopefully turning it back to a place where people come to watch baseball instead of one more stop for tourists after they get done with the Freedom Trail.

The streak had become embarrassing instead of something to be proud of. Now, finally, the Sox are admitting that they can't sell every seat and sending a signal to actual baseball fans they they can show up Fenway on most any day if they feel like seeing a game.

You don't need to go to some on-line scalper, get a ticket from somebody at work or win a raffle. You can just go, and odds are you might even sit next somebody who really wants to be there, too.

You know what else would be healthy? The Sox should skip playing "Sweet Caroline" the next time they're getting thumped at home. Send another signal that winning games matters, not singing songs. The sellout streak was a relic from another time. So is that song. It's time to create new memories at Fenway and not cling to old ones.

The people who are showing up at Fenway Park now are there to watch baseball, not boast to their friends on Facebook that they were at the game. Folks like that probably do not want to sing some cheesy song when their team is getting cuffed around.

It would be a good message that every game is important and wins and losses do matter. Because for too long they really didn't.

The Sox and were resting on the glory of those two titles and assuming everything would be fine because they were so special. For several months now, they've been changing that attitude and it's refreshing to see. Being humbled can be a great cleanser.

The Red Sox aren't there yet. But they're sending a well-balanced, professionally run team onto the team who will play the game in front of fans who are there because they want to be there, not because it's cool to be there.

That's a heck of a lot better than what had been going on. And in the end, that will lead to a new streak.

Meanwhile:

The big test for Jose Iglesias is what happens now. He can't go back to Pawtucket and pout his way to .220 with an occasional double. Iglesias needs to show the Red Sox every day that he's the shortstop of the future.

The guess here is that Joel Hanrahan will be fine. But his struggles in two games at home are a sign that it was wise to keep Andrew Bailey around.

In the end, the Jackie Bradley Jr. debate at the end of spring training will look foolish. He did exactly as hoped and helped the Red Sox win some games early. Then, predictably, the league caught up to him. Now he'll probably stick around until David Ortiz comes back and then return to the minors.

Bradley will have helped the Sox when they needed help, they won't lose a year of control and he'll be better for the experience. It'll work out fine.

And anybody who thinks that getting sent back to the minors will somehow damage Bradley's confidence has never met the man. He'll be OK.

As Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston pointed out the other day, Ortiz has a clause in his contract that guarantees him $15 million in 2014 if he spends 20 days or fewer on the disabled list with his pre-existing Achilles injury. Otherwise he gets $11 million.

Wanna bet Big Papi is back before April 20?

Rest in peace, Dave O'Hara.

Koji Uehara is on an all-time run. Here are his stats since last Sept. 1, counting spring training: 27 games, 24.1 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 34 K.

Want to read something unique? Check out this terrific story on Mariano Rivera by former ProJo Red Sox beat writer Dan Barbarisi.

Would love to hear the verbal jousting between Dustin Pedroia and Terry Francona when the Sox play in Cleveland next week.

The amazing part of Daniel Nava's story is not that he was once the manager of his college team and was purchased by the Sox for $1 from his independent league team. It's that once he realized he wasn't good enough to stay in the majors, he made himself better.

Nava was not a good outfielder when he made his debut in 2010. He is now, to a point where the Sox would use him in right field if needed. Nava also improved how he hit from the right side and got a lot stronger, too.

The story now is not his unlikely path to the majors. It's that he's a legitimate player. Nava is 30, too. Most players are done with their development long before then.

It has been great to see the number of comments on the blog increasing now that the season is here. Thanks so much for reading, it is appreciated.

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