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dan shaughnessy

Red Sox sure seem to be taking their fans for granted, and other thoughts

Red Sox fans endured a fifth last-place finish in the last 11 years.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

Picked-up pieces while hoping to see Fireman Ed at Gillette Sunday …

▪ Do the Red Sox care that they’re largely irrelevant around here at this hour? Is anybody listening to the sounds of silence on Jersey Street? How long will the Sox continue to suggest they are going to do something about their roster while they do nothing? Does the team believe fans will keep filling Fenway (at the top prices in baseball) and buying NESN if it won’t pay market value to keep homegrown stars? Are we in for another long cold winter of “the Sox are in on this guy” while they merely troll the waiver wire for bargains who’ll come here for a one-year contract?

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These are things I think about while the Celtics and Bruins go into the weekend with the best records in their sports, and the potentially playoff-bound, always-a-hot-topic Patriots attempt to beat the hated New York Jets for a 14th consecutive time.

Seriously. While acknowledging that the Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots are in season, and the Sox are not, how many times have we been able to safely say that the Red Sox are the least popular team in New England? By a wide margin?

Also least accountable.

And easily most infuriating.

This well-worn sentiment regularly triggers a surge of loyalists, quick to remind, “Yeah, but they’ve won four championships … blah, blah, blah.”

Swell. Got it. But how long do the FSG defenders hold on to that? When does this ownership group get its feet put to the fire for shedding payroll and producing five last-place finishes in 11 seasons?

There are numbers that should alarm the Sox. Closely guarded NESN ratings indicate that the Sox averaged a 3 share in the market at the end of last season. That is less than a quarter of what it was back in the Manny/Pedro/Papi Golden Days. Similarly, the latest Channel Media & Market survey makes it clear that fans are increasingly dissatisfied with the way the Sox are being run. Sixty-one percent of fans polled said the Sox had changed for the worse, and only 4 percent thought things had changed for the better.

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This space has been harpooning needy Bob Kraft and his Patriots stewardship for a long time, but at least Patriots fans know that the football owner cares about his team more than anything else. Loyal fans deserve that.

The same cannot be said for the ever-expanding Fenway Sports Group. Boston’s baseball team, a cherished local institution, has become a cold parcel in a sprawling portfolio that includes the Liverpool Football Club (now for sale), the Pittsburgh Penguins, Roush Racing, the Fenway Bowl, Fenway Music Hall, various real estate ventures, and apparent new interest in acquiring an NBA franchise. The New York Post reported this week that John Henry (who also owns the Globe) is a “possible bidder” for the NFL’s Washington Commanders.

Red Sox CEO/president/mouthpiece Sam Kennedy told the Globe Wednesday, “This discussion of lack of focus or distraction comes up when we underperform at the major league level, and that is 100 percent on us … so we deserve the criticism.”

The Celtics and Bruins are at the tops of their games and the Patriots continue to give fans great reasons to care.

Meanwhile, it feels as if Red Sox fans are being taken for granted (a hike in ticket prices after the 2022 train wreck?) and have cause to feel abandoned.

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It’s time for the Sox to take steps to improve the team. Watching Xander Bogaerts sign with another team, then claiming “he was never staying here anyway” would not be a good start.

▪ Quiz: Name the four NFL players with the most career receiving yards in Super Bowls (answer below).

▪ If holding a position with the executive committee of the NBA Players Association requires you to defend Kyrie Irving, it might be time to give up your committee chair. Team-killer Kyrie is scheduled to return to the floor for the Nets Sunday against Memphis.

▪ Vikings at Bills, Nov. 13, 2022, goes into the books as one of the all-time great regular-season games. Blowing that many chances to win a game could be done only by two franchises with an aggregate Super Bowl record of 0-8.

▪ Not a great week for Tom Brady. He was named a defendant (along with David Ortiz and other celebs) in a class-action lawsuit involving the FTX cryptocurrency exchange collapse. A day later, the Daily Beast ran a piece titled “Tom Brady’s Charity Is Good at Giving Money — to His Own For-Profit Company.”

Then came a Bruce Arians interview with JoeBucsFan.com in which Brady’s former coach (now a “senior adviser” with the Bucs) suggested folks stop blaming offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich for Tampa’s scoring woes. “Nobody is going to say that Brady was playing bad, but he was playing bad,” explained Arians.

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▪ The good folks of Bayonne, N.J., last week dedicated a statue to 83-year-old Chuck Wepner, the original Tomato Can who famously knocked down Muhammad Ali in a 1975 championship bout. The Bayonne Bleeder inspired Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” franchise.

▪ In a nifty Halloween stunt, the NFL Network’s Jamie Erdahl — another one NESN let get away — dressed up (on air) as former Globie/CBS Hall of Famer Lesley Visser.

▪ ESPN “betting analyst” Erin Dolan is 26 years old and never reminds me of Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder or Beano Cook.

▪ WBZ-TV reporter Katrina Kincade, current Miss Massachusetts, tweeted, “Massachusetts is one of the only states that hasn’t won Miss America. I think of this as the 2nd Curse of the Bambino … Do I have to insert the @RedSox into everything I do? Yes. Miss America is in less than a month! Here’s to breaking the curse.”

▪ Sad to see that the Hall of Fame’s Contemporary Baseball Era Committee did not include Dwight Evans on the eight-man ballot that will be put before 16 voters Dec. 4. Based on previous veterans committee votes, Evans deserved the nod over Don Mattingly, Albert Belle, and Dale Murphy. Evans missed election by only four votes when he was last considered by the committee in 2019 and deserves another shot.

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▪ Walking in the bowels of the New Garden after the Celtics’ comeback victory over the Thunder Monday, I came across a seated David Pastrnak, who was conducting a Celtics postgame analysis interview with … himself. Pasta did both parts for NBC Sports Boston’s camera, which was set up for a one-on-one with Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla.

“It was his idea,’’ said NBC Sports Boston camera person Barry Alley. “He just picked up the mike and started doing it.”

The Celtics and Bruins are a combined 17-1 at home.

▪ Hope Mercury Morris enjoyed the champagne Thursday night when the Commanders knocked off the previously undefeated Eagles.

▪ Going into the weekend, Holy Cross (10-0) was ranked No. 6 in the country in the Football Championship Subdivision while Sacramento State (10-0) was ranked No. 2. It will make for an interesting matchup if they meet in the tournament. In 1969, when Holy Cross’s football season was wiped out by a hepatitis outbreak, Sacramento State dedicated its season to the Crusaders.

▪ In his brilliant “Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe,” author David Maraniss tells a wonderful story about former Globie and bestselling author Leigh Montville.

In 1951, when Montville was an 8-year-old boy in New Haven, he learned from a radio program that the great Thorpe was down on his luck and living in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.

“I was really bothered,” Montville told Maraniss. “I took whatever money I had — I bet it was $1.53 or something, all in change — and sent it to the address.”

Montville enclosed a self-addressed, stamped envelope (pretty good for 8 years old) and a note asking for Thorpe’s autograph. An appreciative Thorpe sent Montville two sheets of Roosevelt Hotel stationery. One featured his autograph: “Thanks, Pal, Jim Thorpe.”

Thorpe wrote a short letter of appreciation on the other sheet of paper. Being 8 years old, Montville kept the autograph and threw away the note.

“I’m told today there are hardly any handwritten letters from Jim Thorpe and that it probably would have been worth a lot of money,” Montville said this week.

▪ The Sox lost one of their great behind-the-scenes team players when former employee Debbie Matson died Monday. Matson worked for 34 years in the public relations department, overseeing press guides, yearbooks, and the fabulous “Diamond Days” newsletter, which tracked the whereabouts of former players. The Sox never had a more loyal or devoted employee.

▪ Arizona loser Kari Lake is the Curt Schilling of gubernatorial candidates. Maybe she’ll do better with the veterans committee.

▪ RIP Dick Pleasants of WGBH and WUMB public radio lore. Born in 1947 and raised in Groton, Pleasants played in the first Groton Little League game during Tercentenary Week in 1957 with teammates Bill Shaughnessy and Peter Gammons.

▪ Quiz answer: 1: Jerry Rice (four Super Bowls, 589 yards), Lynn Swann (four games, 364 yards), Rob Gronkowski (five games, 364), Julian Edelman (four games, 337).


Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at daniel.shaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.