The new owners were ushering in a change, from cosmetic to substantive, to both internal culture and the public’s expectation, to transfer negative energy into positive, to convert the collective unconscious from “cursed” to “winners.”
In short, the new ownership, like Ben Gurion, rebuffed the naysayers who cited a history of failure, and planted a seed of success.
What about us? Beyond metrics and measurements, how are we breeding a culture of success? In 2011, the Red Sox looked to match the New York Yankees dollar for dollar. They spent highly, attracted big-name talent and summarily endured one of baseball’s great collapses in the season’s final month. In 2012, they crashed and burned to finish with the American League’s worst record.
The team cleaned house, traded expensive talent and aimed to rebuild. This time, however, leadership paused. What went wrong? How could a team of all-stars fail so badly? Where were the leaders? Where were the optimists who could right a listing vessel?
The team’s investigation discovered something missing in the Red Sox’s clubhouse: character. A foul culture had permeated the dugout. A sense of self-satisfaction and bloated contracts conspired against passion and aspiration. Simply put, the Red Sox players as a collective cared more about their salaries and lifestyle than about winning.
Before the 2013 season, the Red Sox brought in midlevel players at midlevel salaries. More than talent, these players were known for their optimism, community-mindedness and team spirit. They were players others listened to and wanted to play with.
Though perhaps not as talented as their 2011 peers, this Red Sox team was a collective band of individuals who genuinely enjoyed each other’s company and took interest in the success of one another.
“Perhaps most invigorating about [Ben] Cherington’s construction of the Red Sox’s 2013 roster was his insistence on obtaining players who were known for both talent and character,” wrote NESN.com scribe Ricky Doyle. “It resulted in the most likable—and, obviously, successful—Red Sox team in years.”
Happy holidays to all of you!