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Crawford reminds Red Sox of bad old days

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  August 23, 2013 09:38 AM

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"That was just a bad experience. I definitely felt like I had a chance to get a fresh start. With a new team, new atmosphere, new environment...I want to win all three games. Bad" - Carl Crawford - to the Los Angeles Times

Bad.

That's the most concise word to describe his $25-million-plus ride with the Red Sox in 2011-12. Crawford's interment in Boston was the biggest season-and-a-half free-agency bust in the history of history of baseball.

He made Jack Clark look like a steal.

The numbers, or lack thereof, that Crawford produced during his stay in Boston were anemic at any price: a combined .260 average, 14 HR and 75 RBI with .711 OPS in Boston over parts of two seasons.

Worse, he swiped only 23 bases during his 161 games in a Boston uniform.

On May 3, 2009, Crawford stole six bases against the Red Sox in one game while playing for Tampa Bay.

No wonder Red Sox fans were furious at the guy after he left.

Before the blockbuster Red Sox-Dodgers trade in 2012, the Red Sox were five years removed from their last World Series title. They also appeared about 86 years removed from their next World Series title. The Red Sox were 13.5 games out of first place when the big deal was made, looking up at the Orioles, Rays, A's and Mariners [among others] in the American League wild-card race.

They were a train wreck, struck by the Titanic and set ablaze by the Hindenburg.

Perhaps Crawford's presence in Boston was doomed from the start. In the aftermath of the 2011 season, Team/newspaper owner John W. Henry told Felger and Mazz during his infamous drive-by appearance that he opposed Crawford's seven-year, $142 million contract because the team had too many left-handed batters.

Not even Henry, who made his initial millions in futures trading, could have predicted just how awful Crawford's term in Boston would turn out to be for everyone involved.

Dealing Crawford, along with Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick "Just Call Me Shemp" Punto to the Dodgers a year ago Sunday was the biggest short-sale in Red Sox history.

The Red Sox dumped $262.5 million [give or take a few dollars] of contract liability, picked up a slew of no-names [sorry, Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa just aren't doing it for me], and got to hit the re-set button on the franchise's future.

When Ben Cherington announced the deal, he was alone at the table meeting the press. Larry Lucchino may "run the Red Sox," but he was conspicuously absent from the spotlight the day this gutsy, trans-formative and ultimately successful. deal was made.

This deal was, as we noted at the time, an organ transplant. It fundamentally altered the trajectory of this franchise and gave the team a new chance on life - at least within the next five years.

While Beckett had dynamited whatever bridges he had in Boston with chicken-and-beer laced TNT, he did have a track record of success with the Red Sox and was the anchor and ace of the staff during the 2007 World Championship season.

Beckett and shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who was part of the deal that brought him and Mike Lowell from the Marlins, are now with the Dodgers.

Ramirez is finally realizing the lofty expectations Red Sox fans heard were inevitable for years during his development. He's batting .348 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 62 games with the Dodgers.

While the Red Sox got the long-term short-end of that deal, they did get a World Series title from it - since both Beckett and Lowell were indispensable in Boston's 2007 title run. Since the Red Sox have won only two world championships in the past 95 years, any deal that made one of those possible was worth the price.

Gonzalez as was equally hyped as Crawford, but put up some solid, if not spectacular numbers in Boston. Crawford remained silent about "never smiling in Boston" when he played in Boston. Gonzalez complained about travel, among other things, and just brushed off the end of 2011 as "God's will."

Neither had the ability to succeed in a city where interest in its baseball team actually became more intense when it lost.

And Red Sox fans had not watched Gonzalez tear the team apart as Crawford had done during his days with the Devil Rays Rays in Tampa Bay. For the better part of the first decade of this century, thousands of Red Sox fans and tens of Rays fans in St. Petersburg would watch as Crawford drove balls off the wall, stole bases at will - especially when Tim Wakefield was pitching, ran down balls in the gap and generally caused mayhem.

He was the coveted left fielder that would follow in the footsteps of Teddy Ballgame , Yaz , Jim Rice, [maybe Mike Greenwell?] and Manny Ramirez. Even his lack of a throwing arm wouldn't be an issue due to Fenway's short left-field porch.

Crawford failed in Boston at every level. He didn't hit, he didn't lead, he didn't run, and, worse of all, he didn't car. There are no feel-good moments about his days in Boston.

His Red Sox highlight reel would still leave you with five seconds to kill on Vine.

We'd call that Crawford's "reality distortion field" - which is how Apple founder Steve Jobs often viewed the world according to Walter Isaacson's brilliant biography. Jobs' "reality distortion field" led to some of the world's most innovative consumer products and helped to revolutionize how we communicate, entertain ourselves and interact.

Crawford's "reality distortion field" has left him confused, angry and with a boulder on his shoulder. He has played only 88 of 127 games this season, hitting .288 with 11 steals and only five home runs. He's got four more years at $82.5 million left on his deal.

Ouch.

Thanks, again, Magic.

Boston loved Crawford and he never loved Boston back. No. 13 jerseys were flying off the shelf long before he got to Fort Myers. Even Batman himself, Ben Affleck, went bat [bleep] crazy when he met Crawford at Boston hotel in December of 2010, after he had signed with the Red Sox. Affleck ran up to Crawford shrieking and waving his arms before asking Crawford to pose with him for a photo.

"Are you kidding me? Are you (bleeping) kidding me?" Affleck said, Crawford and agent Brian Peters told USA Today at the time. "We got Carl Crawford. Man, (bleeping) Carl Crawford."

Carl (bleeping) Crawford indeed.

Crawford got countless ovations, encouraging cheers during games during those rare moments when he got on base and pretty much escaped the nuclear fallout of 2011 - save for those who wished/hoped he had gotten another step on Robert Andino's low liner back on Black Wednesday/Thursday in 2011. When things fell completely apart during the Bobby Valentine Error, he was given no more or less heat than anyone else.

Did Crawford expect love and kisses in Boston after hitting .255 with 11 HR and 56 RBI in 2011 and a .282 average in 32 games in 2012?

Crawford maintains the fans and media were against him from Day One and never gave him a chance to succeed.

From the perspective of the Red Sox, it doesn't really matter how well the Dodgers have fared since last year's organ transplant. Usually, transplants are a one-way street. There's no way to even imagine what the Red Sox would be like if Crawford, Gonzalez and Beckett were still on the team's payroll.

Imagine Crawford coming to the plate, standing still, taking as many pitches as needed, then either walking back to the dugout or to first base. Or Gonzalez, strolling up the line after each hit that doesn't rattle off the wall or find the gap. Or Beckett, who's out for the season after surgery, waddling by the clubhouse and cracking open a few cold ones while John Lackey is trying to get his career back on track.

With all three pouting, bitching and moaning along the way.

The 2013 Red Sox have 28 come-from-behind victories and have personified the old "never say die" [except when Ryan Dempster hits A-Rod] mentality.

The post-August 2011 and 2012 Red Sox never broke a sweat, unless Beckett or John Lackey were making a dash to the beer cooler or Gonzalez was taking his hacks with his Wiffle Bat or planking in the "Fan Cave."

So, Crawford really wants to beat the Red Sox three times this weekend.

Wants it "bad."

If the Dodgers this weekend put forth anything close to the effort Crawford delivered while playing for the Red Sox, carry all the passion he had in Boston and maintain his focus like he did during his days at Fenway, the Red Sox and their fans should have nothing to worry about.


Don't forget to visit our Obnoxious Boston Fan blog. As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or e-mail me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com.


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