The social media team for the Boston Red Sox was so awful on the first day of September that it could have been mistaken for the product the organization has put on the field in 2020. Even the people handling Twitter for the MLB team knew they were batting below the Mendoza Line for the day because they shut down one of their accounts altogether.
The Boston Red Sox picked the right season to not try
Historians may look back on 2020 two decades from now and congratulate the Boston Red Sox for their timing. That doesn’t mean that the Boston fan base will consider their approach to the pandemic-disrupted season as anything less than unconscionable.
Principal owner John Henry telegraphed what was in store when he told reporters at the end of last season that the club needed to pare payroll in 2020. The Red Sox had already exceeded the Competitive Balance Tax salary threshold in two straight seasons. Doing so again in 2020 would result in MLB hitting them with the steepest penalty.
That made for an agonizing offseason as fans realized that the Red Sox did not intend to keep outfielder Mookie Betts, potentially the face of the franchise for the next decade. The Red Sox traded Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, adding pitcher David Price to the deal to dump half his salary.
It worked. According to MassLive.com, the Red Sox came in $18 million under the $208 million ceiling before being prorated for the shortened season. Once the calendar flipped over from August to September, it became an official season in the eyes of MLB and took Boston off the hook. There will still be a penalty if the Red Sox go over a $210 million payroll in 2021, but it will be less severe than they would have faced this summer.
The Red Sox are guilty of tone-deaf tweeting
The Boston Red Sox would have to go on a six-game winning streak at the start of September just to be considered abysmal. They ended August with a 12-23 record, dead last in the American League East and just half a game better than the league-worst Los Angeles Angels. The pitching staff’s ERA of 6.06 is more than half a run per game worse than any other team in the majors.
The team’s social media staff tweeted an image of the “reset” button on a keyboard. The image was captioned “ifkyk,” which is shorthand for “if you know, you know.” The message was obviously a celebration of the Red Sox clearing the Competitive Balance Tax hurdle and having their payroll tax reset to zero.
Predictably, the response of Red Sox fans was less than enthusiastic. Someone had the good sense to take the tweet down and replace it:
The new tweet read: “You ever miss with a tweet? Same.”
As make-up calls go, that was still a little clunky and not sufficiently apologetic over the lack of sensitivity toward suffering fans. But it was at least a bit of a mea culpa.
And, as it turned out, it wasn’t the team’s worst tweet of the day.
They managed to make a bad day on Twitter worse
As is the case with many businesses, the Boston Red Sox have – or perhaps had – more than one Twitter account. They had been using the @SoxNotes handle to distribute statistics and information. According to WBZ-TV, that account was operated by Red Sox senior manager of media relations and baseball information Justin Long.
Well-known Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy saw the tweet in the main Red Sox account before it was deleted – by the way, isn’t detweeted a better word? – and posted a response.
“This is supposed to make fans rejoice?” he asked on Twitter. “Wheeee! We junked this whole season but look at our payroll flexibility!”
All things considered, it constituted a fair comment from a veteran observer. Less than an hour later, however, the @SoxNotes account responded to Shaughnessy with three words: “You’re the worst.”
Not long after that, someone in the Red Sox organization realized that the response was out of line. Not only was the tweet taken down, but the account was deleted.
The bottom line is that the team may be able to erase tweets. But the Red Sox won’t be able to do anything about the stench of their 2020 season.