Red Sox fans, myself included, are refreshing their social media feeds every five minutes to learn any news they can on the free agency tour de force of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a guy who has never pitched an inning of Major League Baseball.

We read that the Red Sox are “all in” on acquiring him and pump our fists like The Situation. Then we readr that the Yankees, Mets, and Dodgers are the “clear frontrunners” and try to think of a reason not to end it all. It’s an epic rollercoaster whose ups and downs are a huge factor in dictating our mood despite one underlying fact:

Everything we hear about these negotiations is, for lack of a better word, b@llsh!t.

The baseball media pushes their depthless observations as BREAKING NEWS to us info-crazed die-hards, who then use that insight-less drivel to form shortsighted opinions and lob haphazard allegations at an ownership group who is equal parts successful and oblivious.

The Dodgers just spent $700 million on the greatest player in baseball history.

The Yankees just signed the best lefthanded hitter in the game.

The entire free agent market has been stalled by one guy who has never played in the western hemisphere.

And the Red Sox wait patiently as those of us in their violently impatient fanbase gnash our teeth.

It’s the perfect recipe for a hilariously disastrous offseason.

Let’s examine the main ingredients and attempt to decipher why virtually all Red Sox fans have lost their minds.


The Reporters

Bob Nightingale wrote a sensational piece in the wake of Shohei Ohtani’s unconscionable deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ohtani’s contract is not nearly as unconscionable as the thought of me praising something Bob Nightingale wrote, but you gotta give credit where credit is due.

The Ohtani negotiations really shined a light on how useless baseball “journalists” truly are during the MLB offseason, which is really the only time of year that we actually need them for anything.

The stories that beat reporters come up with during the season are mostly nonsensical background noise that do little more than sow discontent between players, management, and fans. We can interpret 99% of the truly important storylines for ourselves during the games. And half of the remaining 1% of information, the stuff which is disseminated through the credentialed media, is strictly agenda-driven and must all be taken with a truckload of salt anyway.

The offseason, however, is a completely different beast. Free agents are beholden only to themselves during the offseason. The players go mute, and all that comes directly from the agents is dross along the lines of “I’m seeking the best deal I can find for my client and his family.”

Without the media, us fans would receive no real intelligence about which way certain players are leaning.

The problem is this: with the media, us fans still receive no real intelligence about which way certain players are leaning.

Nightingale’s column is essentially a mea culpa of how he and all other baseball “journalists” are nothing more than mouthpieces who do the bidding of player agents in exchange for whatever informational (or disinformational) nuggets those agents wish to feed them. They feed all of this information to reporters strictly for the purpose of strengthening the leverage of their clients. Since team executives are forbidden by MLB’s collective bargaining agreement to deny any “leaked” stories that hint at their potential interest in a certain player, agents have free reign to weave their own tale of how the market looks for their players … with absolutely no fear of being rebuked.

Scott Boras could say all 30 teams have expressed interest in signing JD Martinez to a 10-year, $500 million deal. No team, from the Padres to the Pirates, are allowed to retort that they have no interest in doing that deal. Any team representative who dares to comment otherwise must be dubbed by the reporter as an anonymous “team source” or, worse yet, “a party with knowledge of the negotiations,” who could theoretically be anyone from the general manager to a clubhouse assistant.

Both camps in the Ohtani sweepstakes were particularly tight-lipped at the player’s request. Shohei demanded total silence about the status of his negotiations, which really chapped the asses of the media guys who believe themselves to be the almighty gatekeepers of free agency. Ken Rosenthal, one of the three or four somewhat reliable sources out there, even had the nerve to rip into Ohtani for not allowing “the fans” to fully experience the ups and downs of the biggest decision of his professional life.

How dare he choose not to contribute to the offseason fan frenzy by authorizing his representatives to give misleading information that gives no genuine insight into what’s really happening? He owes it to “the fans” to make himself into a circus freak.

In other words, he owes it to guys like Rosenthal to make his job really easy to do.

The laptop lapdogs got so desperate that they coerced thousands of baseball fans to track a private jet from Southern California to Toronto because they thought Ohtani was onboard, destined for the Blue Jays offices to sign on the dotted line. It was somewhat poetic that the passenger actually turned out to be Robert Herjavec, since Ohtani could potentially earn enough scratch to join him on the Shark Tank panel once the Unicorn’s playing days are over.

Nightingale’s column concluded with his own pledge to try to be more of a journalist than a whore for the Scott Boras’s of the world in the future, with hopes that other baseball insiders would try to do the same. That’s a nice thought and all, but what are the chances anything about this dynamic will ever change? The current arrangement is working incredibly well for the players, and their union is way too strong to ever be compelled to remove the gag orders that silence teams during free agency.

MLB journalists work exclusively for the players’ agents in the offseason. They will never offer insightful, non-partisan analysis on where these players will actually sign. They are nothing more than purveyors of the fiction penned by the suits whose paychecks are based on how desperate they can make the teams who are competing for their clients. 

Yet here we are — the MLB fans who understand that the vast majority of information the reporters feed us is crap — continually hanging on their every tweet and falling into the same trap year after year.


The Fans

We can’t blame the reporters for not giving us accurate intelligence. They are hamstrung by the rules of the game and the manipulative tactics of the soulless brokers who control it. We’ve seen this tragic comedy time and time again for years and years.

A highly coveted star hits the market with three or four teams reported to be “in the running” to sign him. One team is reported to have “dropped out” because the numbers have become too rich for their blood. A bidding war rages on in the media (and social media) that spurs the fans of each remaining contender to wax philosophical about how great their team will look once this star player is acquired. The bidding is reported to have soared 20-30% higher than the originally projected salary, which is based on barely any data whatsoever. Then, at the 11th hour, a mystery team “swoops in” and snags the player out of nowhere.

How the hell did that happen? That team was out on the player!

It happened because the team was never out on the player. They didn’t lay in the weeds, waiting for their time to strike. They made their bids just like the other teams who were arbitrarily named as the “favorites” early on. For whatever reason, the agent chose to conceal that team’s involvement from the public and used the “favorites” as fodder to the public while the “mystery” team negotiated privately.

We know the agents control the entire process. We know that any reports of which teams have the “advantage” and which teams are “out” cannot be taken at face value. Yet we take the bait every year, with every top free agent.

And we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Red Sox fans have become so insane after three last-place finishes — sandwiched around an ALCS appearance that nobody seems to care about, for some reason — that legions of Red Sox fans renewed their demands for Fenway Sports Group to sell the Boston Red Sox after Monday’s revelation that Yoshinobu Yamamoto did not meet with the Red Sox for a second time on his recent trip to the Northeast. He met with both the Yankees and the Mets, but not the Red Sox.

This report debunked a previous report that Yamamoto met with all three teams during his trip to the east coast. Sources confirmed this. However, the sources that originally said he met with the Red Sox were proven to be wrong. Who confirmed for sure that he met with both the Yankees and Mets, but did not meet with the Red Sox?

Sources. That’s who.

A week ago, sources confirmed that the Yankees and Mets were preparing bids of over $300 million for Yamamoto, but Boston’s bid fell far short of that. A couple days later Marino Pepin, a known hack who errantly had Boston pegged as serious bidders for Xander Bogaerts last offseason, reported that the Red Sox had indeed offered Yamamoto over $300 million, with clauses and incentives to boot. Former MLB GM Jim Bowden then gave one of the vaguest predictions in the history of vague predictions, surmising that Yamamoto’s contract could potentially reach maybe as high as perhaps 12 years, or potentially 13 years, or conceivably 15 years, or perchance 26 years, or mayhap 37 1/2 years.

Where could these media giants have received that information?

From sources.

On Monday, respected MLB insider Jeff Passan (guy’s got mad sources) informed us all that no teams have actually offered Yamamoto over $300 million. Not only that, he clarified that each interested team had thus far only made preliminary offers “to ensure that they were serious,” and that Yamamoto’s agent would not be accepting offers of actual contract terms until this past Monday at the earliest. Last but not least, Yamamoto is not necessarily expected to sign with anybody until after Christmas, and may decide to hold out as late as January 4th, the final day of his posting window from Japan.

How do we know all this?

Because sources.

In other words, we still don’t know a damn thing.


The Owners

But the unabashed knowledge that we don’t really know anything hasn’t stopped a whole bunch of us from going spastic whenever we hear that the New York Yankees, the New York Mets, or the Los Angeles Shoheis have the inside track on landing the three-time MVP, Sawamura, and Triple Crown winning Japanese stud.

An embarrassingly large contingent of Red Sox fans insist that John Henry’s group has not been rebuilding the farm system for the past four years as a temporary step back before reinvesting in elite stars the way they used to, but rather has willingly scaled down to become a mid-market team. This in spite of the all-time high value of the Red Sox organization, Henry’s own personal wealth (now estimated to be over $5 billion), and the group’s ownership of at least three other sports franchises under the flag of Fenway Sports Group. 

On the other hand, optimistic fans who are invigorated when guys like Pepin, Nightingale, or even Chris Cotillo claim that the Red Sox are “legitimately in the running” for Yamamoto are just as whacked. The Red Sox have strayed from signing risky contracts for the past four years. Did you really think that was all due to some cult-like influence Chaim Bloom possessed on ownership?

Even if, like me, you feel that the Red Sox are now in a position where they are ready to reopen the checkbook for free agent stars, do you honestly feel that they will unwaveringly resume their old role as big-market bully by stomping on all comers to secure a 10+-year, $350 million+ contract for a 25-year-old who has never played in the Major Leagues? Do you feel that if Steve Cohen or Hal Steinbrenner say screw it and offer Yamamoto $450 million over 15 years, that FSG will continue to come back and outbid them?

Why do you think this? Because the Red Sox are supposed to be full-throttle this year?

Who said the Red Sox were going to be full-throttle anyway?

Craig Breslow? Sam Kennedy? John Henry?

‘Fraid not.

It was Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner who coined that slogan for this winter, and I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that the Hollywood producer/sports mogul/blithering idiot said it as a throwaway comment that was never intended to be taken by fans as a formal revision of team policy.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that the Red Sox will pay for premium starting pitchers this offseason. I believe this because it is the one huge area of need on this team. I believe this because they spent four years focusing on building organizational depth and avoiding long-term contracts. I believe this because they now have the financial flexibility and tradable assets to acquire the premium talent they need.

But I certainly don’t believe it because Tom frickin’ Werner said it.

This is the same guy who once told Terry Francona, “We need to win in more exciting fashion.”

This is the same guy who once whined to a reporter, “Why don’t you ever write about me?”

This is the same guy who somehow managed to drain all the excitement from a World Series championship celebration with the cringiest chant in the history of America.

Anybody who bases their level of excitement on what this knob says deserves every ounce of disappointment that comes their way.


The MLB offseason, like the regular season, is typically a slow grind. We want the key players to drop like dominoes on day one, but it never happens. It’s an ordeal that is particularly frustrating if you’re a fan of a big-market team that is accustomed to success. You get so sick of the grind that you beg for your team to just buy their way out of trouble, because a part of you feels that it should be that easy.

The offseason after back-to-back last-place finishes is a horror movie scenario in a place like Boston. It’s cold here in December, and the lukewarm “hot stove” of this offseason has left our passion just as chilly as our extremities. And just like Kurt Russell in The Thing, we can’t trust anybody.

The reporters are ignorant, the owners are unrelatable, and the fanbase is split down the middle. We’re all just sitting in the cold, staring at one another, sticks of dynamite in hand, waiting to pounce.

What’s that, you say? Chris Sale will be the ace next season? 




By Luke

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