John Henry got an earful at Monday’s Winter Classic, where the Red Sox owner was booed by fans early and often, heckling him everywhere from the parking lot to the stands at Fenway Park. In confronting Henry, Red Sox Nation did little to sugarcoat its collective angst, issuing a stern ultimatum to pay Rafael Devers or risk losing them as paying customers.
Then, a mere 48 hours later, as if summoned by the baseball gods themselves, Jeff Passan tweeted the news Red Sox fans had been waiting for all offseason.
Could it be a coincidence? Sure. After all, the decision to sign Devers to the largest contract in team history had to be weeks, if not months in the making. Though you have to admit, the timing is suspicious, arriving out of thin air just days after Henry’s icy reception at the Winter Classic, showered by boos in his home ballpark, of all places.
There’s no doubt ownership was influenced, consciously or not, by public opinion, wanting to make it up to fans after the embarrassment of losing Xander Bogaerts, who, throughout his decade-long stint in Boston, was the team’s heart and soul, leading the Red Sox to World Series glory in 2013 and again five years later. Whether it was input from fans that pushed it over the top or Chaim Bloom finally coming to his senses, locking up Devers wasn’t just the right move—it was the only one, a desperately needed win for a franchise that, for all its championship pennants and Duck Boat parades along the Charles River, has struggled both in developing and keeping homegrown stars.