By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
At 11:20 Sunday night, Boston went to bed thinking the Pittsburgh Steelers would be considered the biggest embarrassment from another remarkable sports day in the City of Champions.
About 40 minutes later, John Henry and the Boston Red Sox outdid Mike Tomlin and company in a big way.
That is one hell of an accomplishment.
News broke just after midnight that the Red Sox fired President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, less than 12 months after winning a World Series. The team officially announced the decision Monday morning, but said they would not hold a press conference to address the matter.
Does it get more cowardly than firing someone in the middle of the night and refusing to talk about it the next day?
The Red Sox will need to retool for 2020 and it became clear that Dombrowski wasn't the man for the job. He needed to go, but he didn't deserve to go like this.
Henry and the Red Sox disgraced themselves with their handling of Dombrowski's departure. They look like an organization that wants to run and hide from the fallout of a disappointing season.
Make no mistake about it: the timing behind this news was strategic. John Henry knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted to bury this story.
Dombrowski's firing has been in the works for weeks, if not months. Henry said in spring training that he planned to give Dombrowski a contract extension this year, a promise that never materialized.
Just over a month ago, Dan Shaughnessy wrote in The Boston Globe, owned by Henry, that he'd be "shocked" if Dombrowski returned next year, saying he had become "increasingly isolated...and has few friends inside Fenway’s walls."
Henry knew he was firing Dombrowski. You think he just walked into Fenway Park Sunday night and decided that would be the night to fire the GM?
He probably had September 8 circled on his calendar in red ink for weeks. He was going to axe Dombrowski in the wake of the Patriots season opener.
As Tom Brady was tearing apart the Steelers, Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy were settling the family business. Moe Greene picked the wrong guy to mess with, Carlo got put on a flight to Vegas, and like Tessio, Dave Dombrowski wasn't off the hook.
In Henry's mind, the timing couldn't be any better.
Fire Dombrowski minutes after the Patriots game goes final, after New England goes to bed, and the blowback will be softened in the afterglow of the latest great night in Foxboro. A midnight Monday morning news dump? PR experts around the nation smile and nod approvingly.
Why address the matter the next day? The statement will do the trick. If you don't talk about it, it didn't happen, right? Nothing to see here.
John Henry gave Dave Dombrowski $240 million to build the best baseball team he could, and Dombrowski took Henry's money and flushed it down the drain. In the end, that got him fired.
But the way he got fired? That's a joke.
The Red Sox tried to bury this story, but there's no hiding from this mess. With the handling of Dombrowski's dismissal, they ended up disgracing themselves even more than they have on the field this season.
And that sure is saying something.