Carl Crawford, just remember you chose to come play for the Boston Red Sox.
Red Sox fans had been watching you over the years absolutely torment our team. You stole six bases in one game against Boston one year. Six stolen bases. That is absolutely incredible. I remember watching another game in 2003, when you hit a game-winning home run against Boston on Opening Day. If there was an all-time list of Red Sox tormentors, you would have been in the top-five without much debate from anyone.
So needless to say, Red Sox Nation was celebrating when the announcement happened that you had signed a contract with the Red Sox before the 2011 season. Not only had Boston went out and traded for Adrian Gonzalez, they had gotten one of the most dynamic players in the game at that point. Things were looking great.
You struggled in 2011, we understood that. Many fans knew that Boston can be a tough place to play, and we got that. I think we were waiting for that one big moment, somewhat like when J.D Drew hit the grand slam in Game 6 of the 2007 ALCS against the Cleveland Indians. He had struggled almost all year, but one great moment overshadowed a bad season.
You never seemed entirely comfortable that year, but everyone seemed to understand. Even the Boston media, notoriously tough on players over the years, went easy on you. No one blamed you for the epic collapse. There was even an article written about how hard you were trying. We figured this year was a period of adjustment, and that 2012 would be better.
Then you got hurt. We couldn’t wait to have you back in the lineup, healthy and having spent a year in Boston so you knew what to expect — both you and Jacoby Ellsbury wreaking havoc batting leadoff and second. Boston had never seen speed like that, and certainly not recently.
We also understood that nasty incident with the fan that directed the racial slur at you while you were rehabbing. When you did come back, we were happy to see you and you played really well until you decided to get your elbow fixed. It made sense, given Boston was going nowhere that year and there was no point in ruining your career for a lost cause of a season.
Finally, you got traded. I was sorry to see you go. As an African-American who has always lived in and outside of Boston, a city known for racial issues, I was excited to see you in the prime of your career choose our city. But again, you never looked comfortable. Ever. It always felt like if this was a college and it was rush week, and you chose the wrong fraternity — almost like you walked in the wrong room.
Now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, you put down Boston constantly. You are saying how bad you want to beat them, and sweep them even (which you did not).
You called it a bad experience. Sometimes, choosing a new place of employment is not just about the money, it is about fit and how well you fit in with that company and its culture, beliefs and philosophy. People sometimes don’t do enough of that, and you didn’t.
You want to be a superstar but you don’t want any of the responsibilities that come along with that. You turned out to be one of the biggest free agent busts ever.
Too bad. We would have loved you in Boston and you would have had it easier than most. Oh well.
Remember, you chose that “bad experience”.