The ax was expected to fall on Dave Dombrowski at some point, but after midnight, less than an hour after the Patriots opened their season with a win over the Steelers? Now that's a surprise.
But the writing was on the wall for the embattled president of baseball operations of the Red Sox, who saw almost nothing go right for the team after it rolled to a World Series title in 2018.
And though he claimed to be "surprised" he might be on the hot seat as recently as a couple of weeks ago, when you look at his myriad questionable-at-best moves over the last year, it's easy to see why the team is parting ways with Dombrowski. Here are some of his biggest missteps from the past 12 months:
Going without a closer entering 2019: Not forking over big money for Craig Kimbrel in the offseason? That actually turned out to be a smart decision. The former Sox closer signed a three-year, $43M deal with the Cubs in June and has managed to rack up a 5.68 ERA in 21 games -- and oh yeah, he's on the injured list right now. But after Kimbrel and Joe Kelly both left in free agency, Dombrowski basically did nothing with the Boston bullpen.
He struck out with Adam Ottavino and others in free agency, then hoped Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier and company would be able to get the job done. There's no point even mentioning Tyler Thornburg, who's one of Dombrowski's biggest misses in Boston. The Red Sox have 28 saves and 27 blown saves this season, a big reason why they could be eliminated from AL East contention as soon as Monday.
Re-signing Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce: Eovaldi and Pearce were among the feel-good stories of the 2018 postseason, but that didn't carry over into the new year. Eovaldi inked a four-year, $68M contract in December -- a big deal for a pitcher with a lengthy injury history -- and he lasted just four starts this season before needing yet another surgery. He's back now, but he also owns a 5.77 ERA in 19 games.
Pearce has fared even worse. Instead of going after more bullpen help, Dombrowski signed the World Series MVP to a one-year, $6.5M deal in mid-November, and Pearce has delivered a grand total of one home run and a .180 average in 29 games.
Extending Chris Sale: Chris Sale still had a year left on his contract when the Sox signed him to a five-year, $145M extension in spring training. The lefty got off to a bad start after the Sox brought him along slowly during spring training, and his season ended prematurely when his injury issues cropped up again. And while Tommy John surgery has been ruled out for now, Sale's health issues are a gigantic question mark for the team's presumed ace.
No backup plan for Dustin Pedroia: What was the Red Sox plan at second base this season? 120 games from Dustin Pedroia? Eduardo Nunez as a backup? Pedroia played six games -- potentially the last games of his major league career -- and Nunez was released in midseason.
Trading for Andrew Cashner: With the Sox scuffling and in desperate need for pitching help, Dombrowski went out and picked up... Andrew Cashner. The righty had a 3.83 ERA for the lowly Orioles, but he's been a disaster in Boston, with a 6.28 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 15 games.
To be fair, those moves aren't the only reasons that the defending champs find themselves eight games out of the second wild card spot with 19 games to play (we're looking at you, Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello). And Dombrowski has also made many good moves over his tenure in Boston.
But when a team goes from 108 wins and a World Series to out of the playoffs despite one of the best offenses in baseball and the game's biggest payroll ($228M), a change has to be made. And in the dead of night Sunday, that change was Dombrowski.
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