David Ortiz, better known as Big Papi, made his first appearance at Fenway Park since being shot in the Dominican Republic in June.
USA TODAYWho’s ready to have their name sullied, their reputation bloodied, and their self-esteem battered and bruised?Oh boy, do the Boston Red Sox have a job for you.This is a franchise that has won four World Series championships in the last 16 years, and yet, is looking for their fourth different GM in a decade.The Red Sox make late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner’s trigger finger look like a squirt gun.The Yankees have won only one World Series championship in 20 years, and GM Brian Cashman has been on the job 22 years and going strong.The Red Sox’s World Series drought lasted 45 weeks and one day when Dave Dombrowski found out he was fired.The Red Sox fired the man during the second inning of their Sunday Night game against the New York Yankees. They announced it five minutes after midnight. When most of the New England media were covering the New England Patriots’ NFL season-opening victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football.Oh, and 19 hours later, trotted out David Ortiz to make his first public appearance since the assassination attempt on his life, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and thanking the Red Sox and the fans.MORE MLB: Astros put together historic stretch of dominationPLAYOFF PICTURE: Updated look at division, wild-card racesSorry, we still haven’t forgotten that Dombrowski has been fired, and would are waiting for answers.Yet, there have been no press conferences.No response from ownership.Not even from owner John Henry, who happens to own the Boston Globe.The Red Sox thanked Dombrowski for the three consecutive division titles and World Series championship in the 292-word press release and congratulated him on his career in Boston, but not a single word publicly on why he was fired.Did the Red Sox even tell Dombrowski himself why he was fired?”I think they told me Sunday, since there had been so many rumors, that it was better to stop the speculation, ‘’ Dombrowski told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. “The speculation created internal anxiety for some people internally. “The reason was that they were going in a different direction. Not much more than that.”Come on. You don’t fire a man with a year left on his contract for missing the postseason one time.You don’t fire a man because he dished out $213 million in free-agent contracts to struggling and injured pitchers Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi when ownership is the ones who signed the checks.You don’t fire a man for having a depleted farm system when you brought him in to specifically win a World Series championship, which he delivered.No, there have to be other reasons, and the Red Sox aren’t talking.There have been reports that Dombrowski didn’t have a warm and cozy relationship with his co-workers, in particular Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy. Dombrowski denied the rift last month to USA TODAY Sports, but the whispers prevailed before the firing, and became stronger afterwards.There were rumors he isolated himself from everyone but assistant Frank Wren and Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, but curiously, Wren and La Russa remain employed, and neither have been told they aren’t coming back in 2020.There is word now from Red Sox executives that they are changing direction, plan to cut payroll, let All-Star slugger J.D. Martinez leave if he opts out of his contract, even let reigning MVP Mookie Betts walk away as a free agent (if they don’t trade him first), and didn’t believe Dombrowski was capable of pulling it off.And there always is the wild innuendo, even smear campaign, that bubbles beneath the surface spread throughout baseball circles but never proven, as factors in any firing.Whatever the true reason, the Red Sox aren’t publicly talking about it now, won’t the rest of the season, and likely never will.So, in the meantime, everyone suffers.The Red Sox, who can’t keep a GM without firing him like Dombrowski, embarrassing him like Ben Cherington, or making life so miserable that he resigns like Theo Epstein, now look to have all of the stability of an out-of-town newspaper stand.Dombrowski, the architect of two World Series championships in his career (Marlins in 1997), four pennant winners (2006 and 2012 with the Tigers) and seven division titles, now looks like someone with the people skills of Sarah Huckabee Sanders.It could all be cleared up, nice and tidy, if the Red Sox ownership would simply talk, answer the questions the best they can without destroying a man’s legacy, and be done with it once and for all.Instead, they leave the dirty work to manager Alex Cora, who hasn’t even been told yet whether he’s coming back in 2020.“Unfair or fair, I don’t know,’’ Cora told reporters, when asked why he should have the responsibility of speaking for the entire organization. “The team already sent a statement. They wanted to make sure we appreciated what Dave did as an organization.“I know that for some people, it’s probably not enough. For others, maybe it is. …I don’t think they have to go into details. The organization just decided it was time to move on.”With only four different skippers since 2004, who would have imagined that being manager of the Red Sox would have more job security than your boss?“You look at [Dombrowski’s] track record, and you’re like, ‘Wow,’ ‘’ Cora said, “but ownership decided that’s where we’re going. And you’ve got to respect that.’’The Red Sox now are looking for someone who can cut their $239 million payroll, rebuild a farm system, and still compete with the Yankees in the AL East.No matter who interviews for the Red Sox job, they’ll want answers on what led to Dombrowski’s firing, and inquire about their own fate if they happen to miss the playoffs, or God forbid, have a losing season.BOB NIGHTENGALE: More columns from USA TODAY’s MLB insiderLet’s see, the Red Sox demoted Cherington because he was too conservative even though they won the 2013 World Series, and Dombrowski was too aggressive when winning the 2018 World Series.So just what do you want?Maybe the Red Sox don’t have to tell us the real reasons they fired Dombrowski, but they sure the heck better tell his replacement.If not – caveat emptor, buddy.And if you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, feel free to give a shout-out to Dan Duquette, Epstein, Cherington and Dombrowski.They’ve got their own stories, too.Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @BnightengaleAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide