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A well-run team

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Dick
Flavin

The Boston Red Sox are the most successful team in baseball. They have won the World Series four times in this young century -- that's more than anyone else.

But do the Sox qualify as a dynasty?

Not really. For one thing, they haven't won as many as two championships in a row. The Celtics were a dynasty; they won 11 times in 13 years in the '50s and '60s, eight of those times in succession. Now that's a dynasty! In baseball, the Yankees won the World Series four straight times in the '30s, five times in a row from 1949-53, and another three consecutive times from 1998-2000. So give them credit (but you don't have to give them love).

If the Sox don't qualify as a dynasty, they do qualify as the best run organization in baseball. No one else in this century has their record of success. Only the Red Sox have won four times in the 21st century. They have won their championships under three different managers (Terry Francona, 2004 and 2007; John Farrell, 2013; and Alex Cora, 2018), three different general managers (Theo Epstein, 2004 and 2007; Ben Cherrington, 2013; and Dave Dombrowski, 2018), and two different chief executive officers (Larry Lucchino, 2004, 2007, and 2013; and Sam Kennedy, 2018).

No player or uniformed person has been aboard for all four championships; David Ortiz (2004-13) won three rings, and Dustin Pedroia will get his third ring as a member of the 2018 team, but he was on the disabled list for all but three games and was ineligible to play in this post-season.

There is only one common thread that stitches together all four champion teams -- the owners. The John Henry/Tom Werner tandem has been in place since the beginning of the 2002 season. There has been some turnover among the limited partners who have invested in the team, but not much. The ownership group has been extremely stable and it deserves great credit for what has been accomplished in the past 17 years.

When principal owner John Henry held his first news conference as the ball club's main man he said, "When you bid on the Red Sox, the challenge you're undertaking is nothing short of winning the World Series." To those of us who were hardened by disappointment year after year, it sounded like pie-in-the-sky fanciful thinking. "Just wait until he's been around a few years," we thought. "He'll learn soon enough the true meaning of despair and heartbreak." But after he'd been around a few years there was a fancy trophy from Tiffany's touring the countryside for all to see close up and to pose for pictures with. Now a fourth such tour is getting under way.

Neither Henry nor chairman Tom Werner was new to the experience of team ownership when he took over the Red Sox, and that helped. Henry had owned the Florida Marlins (he'd also been a limited partner of the New York Yankees. Ah well, we all have skeletons in our closets.) And Werner had been majority owner of the San Diego Padres. In addition, the third member of the triumvirate that took control, Larry Lucchino, had vast experience and a winning record as president of the Baltimore Orioles, who won the World Series on his watch in 1983, and as CEO of the Padres, who made it to the Series for the only time in their history under his leadership in 1998.

It would be foolish to say that no mistakes were made along the way (Hello, Pablo Sandoval), but the owners have been willing to admit them and to move on. Just think, only one more season that they'll be paying millions of dollars owed to the chubby Sandoval. There was the great collapse of 2011, and that was compounded by the horror show of 2012 starring Bobby Valentine. Then, they managed to bounce back and win it all in 2013.

We shouldn't forget that in 2001, when the bidding for the Red Sox was under way, this was the only group that was committed to retaining and restoring Fenway Park. Twenty years ago, the place was filled with history, but its charm was largely obscured by the fact that it was tattered, torn, and just plain tired. Now, it is all spruced up and it is baseball's great crown jewel, prized and envied by all. The owners of the team did that. It took careful planning, years of hard work, and piles of money, but they did it. Just like they said they would.

Then of course there is the Red Sox Foundation, which, since 2002, has made donations to over 1,700 charitable organizations and worthy causes and has been named the "Best Sports Charity." The ownership did that, too.

But it's the team on the field that matters most to Red Sox Nation, and in a day and age of free agency and high turnover, that team keeps rising to the top. Talk about an embarrassment of riches.

What of the future? Well, the chief executive officer, Sam Kennedy, has been with the team since the current ownership took over; he was well trained by his predecessor, Lucchino, but he's his own man and now he has a championship under his belt. In addition, he grew up only about a mile from Fenway Park, so he understands what the Red Sox means to this part of the world. The president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, is one of the most respected baseball executives in the land, and Alex Cora is the manager with the magic touch. Kennedy, Dombrowski and Cora all possess different skills but they have one thing in common: they were all hired by the guys who pay the bills, the owners.

Hiring the right people is one thing. What's really important is trusting them and giving them room to do their jobs. That's what John Henry, Tom Werner, and their partners have done. The results speak for themselves.

I'd say we're in pretty good hands.

Dick Flavin is a New York Times bestselling author; the Boston Red Sox “Poet Laureate” and The Pilot’s recently minted Sports’ columnist.

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