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Enough with the Fenway 100 celebrations

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  September 26, 2012 10:02 AM

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Sprinkling the infield while stashing away the term "simultaneous possession" for future use ...

First, the disclaimer: we all love the 2004 Red Sox. We love what they stood for, represented, accomplished. The 2004 Red Sox will always be locked in the most secure of vaults, right there with the 2001 Patriots.

But celebrating the eight-year anniversary is a little silly and cheapens the value of that season.

Mercifully, the 100-year anniversary season of Fenway Park will come to a close on Wednesday night, the Red Sox playing their final home game in what has been a train wreck of a year. It certainly feels like the Sox have set baseball in Boston back a full century. Recognizing the 2004 Red Sox is a nice idea on the surface, but Tuesday night's ceremonies at Fenway Park further amplify what has a been a core problem for the Red Sox under this ownership and administration.

The Sox don't know when to stop. They don't know when to say when. Pedro Martinez has been back to Fenway Park so many times this season that the visits suddenly don't seem so special, and celebrating anything at Fenway these days seems forced and foolish.

On the baseball side too, remember, the gluttony is what did the Red Sox in.

Slightly more than six months from now, the Red Sox will return to Fenway Park for their first home game of 2013 . Presumably, the Sox will do so with a new manager, a reshaped roster, a new outlook. By then, with the 100-year anniversary of Fenway behind us, maybe the Sox can once focus on winning their next championship instead of celebrating a past one.

As we all have come to see and learn, the NFL officiating is a joke. For anyone to compare practices in the NFL to those in the business world is sheer stupidity for one very simple reason: the NFL is thriving. There is no real need to nickel and dime on-field personnel. Refereeing in the NFL is clearly a special skill, and the league's inability to recognize that is insulting to players, coaches and, most of all, fans.

We've said this before and we'll say it again: many of the owners in professional sports - from football to hockey - routinely exploit their fans. They treat you like addicts. They know you will not walk away because you cannot and do not want to, and that is hardly your fault.

That is the definition of ruthlessness.

Why are some fans so concerned about the role of Rob Grownkowski? When Wes Welker was relatively invisible in the early part of the season, there was reason to wonder. The New England passing game wasn't exactly flourishing. But whether Gronkowski caught passes or not, the Patriots' offense was generally quite effective against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, quarterback Tom Brady looking sharp and confident.

All of that suggests that complaints about Gronkowski are coming solely from the fantasy geeks who drafted him in the early rounds.

Until Tyler Seguin announced that he was headed tom Switzerland, the idea of NHL players traveling overseas during the current lockout seemed entirely conceptual. But the idea of Seguin suffering some sort of significant injury playing for anyone other than Bruins should put a pit in your stomach for obvious reasons.

Seguin was the No. 2 pick in the draft. He is a dynamic talent. He is the future of a Bruins franchise that needed years to get back to this point, and now he is going to be out there putting his health at risk for someone else.

How can anyone feel good about that?

Another disclaimer: we all like David Ortiz, appreciate what he has given the Red Sox, understand what he means here. But can we stop with this notion that Ortiz is somehow being disrespected? In a recent interview with the Boston Herald, Ortiz said that the prospect of signing a long-term deal with the Red Sox was more about "respect" than it was about money, and we all know that those words are synonyms in the world of professional sports.

Here is what Ortiz continues to miss: the Red Sox have shown him respect. Ortiz is the only member of the 2004 Red Sox who is still here. Based on 2012 salary, he was the highest-paid player at his position in the game. Ortiz was a free agent last offseason and no one offered him a better deal than the Red Sox - at least as far as we know.

With Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez now out of the picture, the Red Sox must give serious consideration to bringing back Ortiz next season for no other reason than the fact that they need power bats (particularly from the left side) in the middle of their lineup. But the Red Sox absolutely, positively do not owe him a multiyear contract, particularly when Ortiz has missed the last two months with an Achilles injury.

If Red Sox truly did not respect Ortiz, he would have been gone a long time ago.

Shocker of shocker, former Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne estimated that "80 percent" of the team in LA was using performance-enhancing drugs at the height of the steroids era. In his book, Gagne says he had "intimate" understanding of what his teammates were doing to gain a competitive advantage.

And if the Dodgers were at 80 percent, well, isn't it reasonable to assume that every other team was somewhere close?

Including the Red Sox?

So the Patriots are 1-2. Big deal. The loss against the Arizona Cardinals was far more shocking than the loss to the Ravens, who were in the AFC title game last year. Baltimore was at home. On national television. The Patriots were an underdog heading into Sunday night, however small the point spread. Against the Cardinals, New England was a two-touchdown favorite at home.

Is there cause for concern with the Patriots? Not yet.

But if they lose at Buffalo on Sunday, let's renew the discussion.

Tony's Top 5

Favorite blog entries

5
The final chapter on Teixeira and How Red Sox pitchers work the strike zone Jan. 7, 2009 and July 17, 2009. Some actual reporting – an obsession with Mark Teixeira and the art of pitching.
4
For 2011 Red Sox, there was plenty of blame to go around Oct. 1, 2011. The disgraceful collapse of the Red Sox stoked the fire in all of us.
3
Behind Garnett and James, Celtics and Heat are digging in June 4, 2012. Improbably, the Celtics pushed the Heat to the limit.
2
Thrill is back for Patriots Jan. 30, 2012. Another Super Bowl has even Bill Belichick musing.
1
You’ve got to believe June 15, 2011. On the morning of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, we all had reason to believe.
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Updated: Mar 1, 07:24 AM

About Mazz

Tony Massarotti is a Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. A lifelong Bostonian, Massarotti graduated from Waltham High School and Tufts University. He was voted the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year by his peers in 2000 and 2008 and has been a finalist for the award on several other occasions. This blog won a 2008 EPpy award for "Best Sports Blog".

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