What a homestand.
When the Red Sox arrived at Fenway Park on Aug. 14, they were just another last-place team trudging toward a breakup dinner in Cleveland after Game No. 162 on October 4.
Now they are energized by upheaval. They are a house of change and fear, and it’s making them play a little better.
No one knows what’s going to happen. People have lost their jobs. People are afraid they are going to lose their jobs. The only certainty is uncertainty. And that is a good thing.
The Sox are enjoying a late-August, garbage-time surge as everyone auditions for a new baseball boss.
Ten days ago John Farrell was manager of the Red Sox, Ben Cherington was the GM, and Larry Lucchino was believed to still be somewhat involved in the final days of the 2015 season. Now Farrell is battling Stage 1 lymphoma, Cherington has been replaced, and a declawed Lucchino wanders the corridors of Yawkey Way bumping into the ghost of Theo. It’s a dream for chairman Tom Werner.
There’s no more “John, Tom, and Larry.’’ Now it’s just “John and Tom.’’ Lucchino is a buffer and piñata no more.
The Dave Dombrowski Era has begun and life will never be the same around Fenway.
“It’s been a whirlwind for sure,’’ acting manager Torey Lovullo (hope the Sox have bumped his pay) said Sunday before the final game of the bizarre, 6-4 homestand.
“It’s been a crash course for me . . . Some days were great, some days were unpredictable, and some days were a complete surprise . . . I want to make sure I’m consistent with my actions. We need to stay united through some tough times and not look past the game, and I think our guys have responded to that.’’
While Lovullo spoke in the second-floor media room, Farrell sat in the manager’s office below and talked about his first week of chemo. He’s feeling the effects of the powerful drugs that are battling his cancer. His thick hair has been cropped short and he says he figures it’ll all be gone in about a month.
Farrell knows he’s one lucky guy. This would have been a lot worse if his cancer hadn’t been detected during a hernia surgery in Detroit at the beginning of the month. Farrell said he planned to be back at Fenway when the Sox return from their road trip through Chicago and New York.
Dustin Pedroia (hamstring) was scheduled to make the Sox trip to Chicago, even though he’s been ruled out until September. Pedroia admitted most of the Sox players didn’t know who Sam Kennedy was when the new team president came down to the clubhouse to announce that Dombrowski was in, and Cherington out, on that fateful Tuesday night last week.
“Yeah, that was kind of a surprise,’’ said the de facto Sox captain.
“No one had any idea,’’ admitted the self-effacing Kennedy. “I delivered the message to the coaches and it went well, so I went into the clubhouse and did the same thing. I was like, ‘Hi, I’m Sam Kennedy.’ It was very presidential.’’
More surprises are in store. The baseball ops guys (they are dressing much better since Cherington departed) don’t know if they’re going to have jobs. Farrell, Lovullo, and the coaches don’t know if they are going to have jobs. Same goes for the players. And that includes the likes of Pedroia, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, and Pablo Sandoval. There is no certainty at Fenway now. Only uncertainty.
It’s probably a good time to be Jeremy Kapstein (he’s the ubiquitous guy wearing the Logan Airport headphones behind home plate). A veteran Lucchino operative, Kapstein is old-school baseball and has a history with Dombrowski.
Things are a little more dicey for the quiet man in the silo in Lawrence, Kansas (Bill James) and the army of sun-starved analytic savants who’ve steered the SS Red Sox into an iceberg.
Certainly one has to wonder about the future of Jerry Dipoto, a stat guy who split from the Angels because manager Mike Scioscia didn’t want to manage by mathematics. Dipoto got a three-month contract from Cherington before Dombrowski came on board (versions of the Cherington departure timeline are conflicting). It’s hard to figure where Dipoto fits now.
With Dombrowski at the helm, the Sox legion of overhyped prospects should be in lease-don’t-buy mode. Dombrowski has no pride of authorship with the raft of Sox futures and historically has been quick to part with “potential” in exchange for established big league talent.
Oh, and you can expect a Red Sox ace starting pitcher by next April. With Dombrowski on board, the Sox will junk the preposterous “We don’t need an ace and we don’t pay for pitching over 30” philosophy. Dombrowski this week said, “Normally if you’re going to have a world championship club, you need to have a No. 1 type of guy.’’
Amen. No more reinventing baseball for the Red Sox. One hundred fifteen years of history can’t be wrong.
Bottom line: The Sox went 6-4 on their historic homestand. They are better today than they were 10 days ago. Dombrowski is a great hire and there should be more accountability on and off the field at Yawkey Way.
They hit the road Monday night in Chicago, then start playing teams that need to win: the Mets at Citi Field on Friday and the Yankees back here at Fenway next Monday night.
Let the auditions continue.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Shaughnessy.