Thank goodness for a new week. Could last week have been any worse for Boston sports?
Let’s review. First, the City of Boston reneged on its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Then the NFL upheld Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged role in Deflategate. And then the Boston Herald broke the news that Red Sox CEO and president Larry Lucchino is stepping down at the end of the year. Fortunately, the Red Sox won a few games. The way they had been playing one would have thought they were a last-place ball club. Oh, they are a last-place team! Last in the American League East and tied with Oakland for last in all of the American League.
Long hot summer? Boston redefined the term in one July week.
Boston’s bowing out of the bidding for the 2024 Olympics was embarrassing for the city and for the U.S. Olympic Committee, which pulled the plug on July 27 because of fierce grassroots opposition to hosting the quadrennial spectacle. In addition to fears of traffic nightmares and inferior infrastructure, opponents worried that taxpayers would be stuck with the bill for any cost overruns. And we all know that cost overruns are more than likely in a major construction project. Can you say Big Dig?
For once, a politician listened to the drumbeat of the citizenry. Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he would not sign a contract obligating the city to cover any overruns. Pols usually embrace the opportunity to be involved with something as big as the Olympics, but Walsh wanted more time to study the financial implications of such an undertaking. Wise move. Reports put the cost of the Sochi winter games in 2014 at $50 billion.
Bostonians rallied against the Games from the moment the USOC chose the city last January over Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington. They became even more disgruntled when they perceived a lack of transparency in the workings of organizing committee, Boston 2024. The USOC should have understood all this a lot earlier than it did.
This debacle is a wakeup call to all who believe state and municipal government should bear the cost of expensive facilities. The new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox must have received that message by now. They were dreaming when they presented their initial proposal for a stadium in downtown Providence. They completely underestimated the ensuing uproar from taxpayers still hung over from the 38 Studios mess, a colossal failure that will cost Rhode Islanders more than $100 million. So stiff was that opposition that the General Assembly adjourned without dealing with the issue.
Brady’s suspension was just the latest fumble by the NFL in the wake of the AFC Championship and allegations that the New England Patriots quarterback was involved in deflating footballs to suit his preference for a softer ball. After a 10-hour hearing in New York on June 23, Commissioner Roger Goodell finally ruled that the initial penalty, a four-game suspension for Brady, would stand, costing the QB about $2 million in salary. Brady and his legal team have taken the case to federal court.
Nobody looks good here. Game officials who couldn’t keep track of the balls; equipment guy who ducked into a restroom with the balls; Brady, who has vehemently denied the charge but is still branded a liar in the national media; Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who rejected the allegations, recoiled at the penalties (Brady’s suspension, a $1-million fine and loss of two draft picks), paid the fine and then lambasted the league after Goodell’s decision last week; Ted Wells, lead investigator for the league, and Goodell, the boss who let this thing drag on way too long. The first full week of training camp is underway, and the case still percolates. Unbelievable!
Lucchino’s departure is a mild surprise. He has been with the Red Sox since 2002, built three World Series-winning teams and oversaw the refurbishing of Fenway Park. All that after building Camden Yards in Baltimore and laying the foundation for Petco Park in San Diego, winning a World Series with the Orioles and taking the Padres to the World Series. But the Red Sox look like they will finish last for the third time in four years, not a good thing and perhaps reason for principal owner John Henry to ease him out. Who knows?
Lucchino still has his hands full with the Pawtucket Red Sox. He is part of the PawSox ownership group, and with the death in May of Jim Skeffington, another of the owners and the point man for the stadium project, he has had to get more involved here. In addition, he will turn 70 on Sept. 6.
This week can’t be as bad as last week was, right? Oh, the Red Sox led off Sunday with a 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay.