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Chaim Bloom Bleeds Out

The Red Sox can finally start acting like a baseball team instead of a tech startup.

Fenway Park Mayors Walkthrough
He’ll be fine, folks.
Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The most egregious lie Chaim Bloom’s supporters tell is that he was hired by John Henry to do “a job” that was somehow less than Chief of Baseball Operations for the Boston Red Sox, in that Bloom was supposed to prioritize rebuilding the farm system, and whatever else happened, well, just happened. As long as the minor league system continued to be strengthened, the argument goes, Bloom could not fail, but could only be failed, be it by fans, players or ownership who didn’t grasp the genius of his grand design, were impatient about seeing it through or used one-off failures to diminish the entire project. People embraced his technocratic approach as if he was a rockstar startup CEO, where repeated failures, rather than been seen as demerits, were treated as proof of concept, not unlike Thomas Edison’s 9,999 aborted attempts to make a lightbulb. To hear them tell it, Bloom wasn’t just merely running the team, he was creating a whole new paradigm for what it meant to run a team, and anyone who didn’t understand? It was their fault.

You had to believe, and, after February of 2020, I stopped believing. When Bloom offloaded the single best player the Sox had produced in nearly a century for peanuts, I was out, even if it was obviously a condition of him taking the job. From that point on, Bloom, neither a player nor an owner, was the main character of the franchise, evoking devotion and disgust in equal measure as he set about his business. Not entirely unlike Theranos, where Elizabeth Holmes convinced people she could create a miracle machine to analyze a single drop of blood, and became a temporary avatar of the capacity of human innovation, the project was fatally flawed from the start. Everyone who hand-waves the Mookie trade as John Henry’s decision is missing the point. When you’re the Chief of Baseball Operations, you’re in charge of everything, and not simply maintaining the architecture of your futuristic dream design. You need to sweat the small stuff, the single drops, and Bloom proved himself, over and over, to be almost comically incapable or unwilling to do so.

To be abundantly clear, if Bloom had spent even a little more time focusing on the big-league roster, he’d still be in the job today, but the Matt Dermody game, the Kyle Barraclough game, the $1 tickets versus the Yankees in September, the likely three last-place finishes in four years — it adds up. Henry wanted to save money, sure, but not at the cost of being embarrassed, and Bloom’s Sox humiliated the owner more or less once a month during the 2023 season due to incredibly basic oversights, like not having enough pitchers to play a baseball game. Somehow the Chief of Baseball Operations eluded scrutiny for it, again and again, until, yesterday, Henry had enough.

To be blunt: Bloom was bad at the job, so he lost it. It doesn’t make him a bad person, and it doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying hard or that he didn’t do some good things, but he was arrogant and sloppy and had almost nothing tangible to show for nearly four years in charge. Even the minor league system, as good as it is, would have grown back organically to a sustainably healthy level without Bloom. So what did he really do that can’t be easily replaced by the next McKinsey rockstar wunderkind, other than create a cult of personality strong enough to send the fanbase into a prolonged, exhausting internecine struggle? I’m really not sure.

The Bloom fans will likely spend today spitting outraged takes and the next few years taking victory laps whenever Roman Anthony hits a homer, as if every GM-type doesn’t build upon the work of their predecessor, but this is good for everyone, Bloom included. The Red Sox will be better and he’ll be better off, not leastwise because he won’t be infantilized by his own rabid fans, who insisted his glaring failures were just the misunderstood quirks of a genius. Running a baseball team is an incredibly hard job, and it’s not surprising that, in his first time out, he wasn’t able to keep everyone on the same page. Theo Epstein was the special case, not Bloom, but if and when Bloom catches on elsewhere I suspect he’ll have cleaned up some of the obvious flaws from his approach here. It’s all part of the business. He’ll be alright.

On a personal level, I’m just thrilled that the man who traded Mookie is no longer in charge, so I can go back to enjoying the Red Sox without a quarter of the fanbase pissing on my leg and saying it’s raining. The whole project was sabotaged from the start, and now that it’s over, we can start again. The last two years haven’t been fun. They have been, in fact, aggressively off-putting. My blood has run cold for nearly four years now, but you’d only need to analyze a single drop to know that I still bleed the Sox through and through. No matter where you stand on Bloom, you probably do too. That should be what unites us, not divides us. I think the next guy will do just that.