Naturally, Tuesday at Fenway Park should have been about the Red Sox.
The team was playing in its home opener where it welcomed back some past greats to participate in the 2018 World Series ring presentation ceremony, but instead the hour-long ceremony will be remembered for the appearance of the Patriots, who were also honored for their Super Bowl LIII win over the Rams.
Over 20 players emerged from the Green Monster following both national anthems to a raucous applause that was the louder than any other point in the ceremony, and it got even louder when it was announced Rob Gronkowski would throw out a ceremonial first pitch along with Julian Edelman and Stephon Gilmore. Edelman capped the thing off by throwing a ball into the roof box seats after chest-bumping with Mookie Betts.
As for the game, it wasn't much better for the Red Sox as Chris Sale struggled and they fell 7-5 to the Blue Jays, falling to 3-9 on the year.
Football is king in New England, and it’s been that way for years. The Red Sox know this, which is why they should have held off on honoring the Super Bowl champions for another day.
Back in 2005, the Red Sox and Patriots were both coming off championships and at the home opener Bill Russell, Bobby Orr, Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour threw out the ceremonial first pitches. The other Boston sports teams were incorporated, but it wasn’t all Patriots, and it was also a different time. Coming off their first World Series win in 86 years, the Red Sox were close to the No. 1 team in town.
Things have changed drastically in the 14 years since, which is why the Red Sox should have had Tuesday be all about them and only them. That is what they did in 2014 when they received their rings for the 2013 World Series. That ceremony was centered around the team and the 2013 Boston Marathon.
It’s not like the Patriots would have been upset if they weren’t invited for the home opener, and there was perhaps a better opportunity in a few weeks when the vast majority of the team would be in town for the start of voluntary offseason workouts that begin April 15.
So, why exactly were the Patriots invited Tuesday?
“We are part of what is obviously the greatest time to be living in Boston,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said on Dale & Keefe Tuesday prior to the game. “The envy of the rest of the country. … They are going to be part of the ceremony because we share in their success. … As soon as we won the World Series we sent out the invitation.”
Again, the Red Sox didn’t need to do this now.
They could have very easily have waited for a later date to make Tuesday all about the Red Sox and what they accomplished in 2018. But, instead it was Gronkowski’s first real public appearance since he announced his retirement a few weeks ago, and this was another reason why the Patriots stole the show.
While it never is a factor because of scheduling, imagine if things were reversed — would the Patriots ever invite the Red Sox to be honored on a night where they were raising a Super Bowl banner at Gillette Stadium?
Not in a million years.
The Red Sox were honored in Foxboro days after their World Series win last November before a Sunday night game against the Packers, which is what the Red Sox could have done for the Patriots. A late April night game against the Tigers or A’s would have worked just fine.
Tuesday’s ceremony was supposed to be a reminder of what the Red Sox did last year, but instead it was really a reminder of how much more popular the Patriots are than the Red Sox.
Mission not accomplished.