General Red Sox

Reality Check

While we'd much prefer to speculate on the future of the Red Sox on the field, it is unavoidable that the off-field circus that has transpired these last two weeks are part of the discussion. Some general thoughts:

The rumors that Theo Epstein could move the the Cubs came as early as the All-Star break, and were fleshed out thereafter. Buster Olney addressed the possibility on August 24th, citing friends of Epstein who said Theo, "in years past", thought the Cubs situation a great challenge. Pardon me for being a cynic, but that's a trial balloon if there ever was a trial balloon. Gordon Edes wrote a column in late August addressing this issue. It was out there, in strong fashion. Pete Abraham wrote yesterday that "Epstein's top assistant, Ben Cherington, has been operating as the de facto general manager for several weeks and is expected to swiftly be named as his replacement.". Several weeks?! Is this just another Ownership leak to make it look like Theo checked out? Who put each of these out there? Epstein, his agent? Jon Henry? The media? Does it matter?

Another thing: we are pretty tired of the indignance of sportswriters with great access to the clubhouse editorializing about this supposed trainwreck of a team. Guys who were in the clubhouse every day, intimate with players, watching baseball 5-7 hours a day from the sidelines and the locker room, who now act like they had the wool pulled over their eyes? If these writers are as talented, hard-working, intrepid as they think they are, they would have been discussing this throughout the year since the friction was not even remotely sub-text. If they didn't notice it, it is an indictment of their own skills as reporters and writers, a testament to their laziness or lack of critical ability. Or they are simply complicit, and have no right to their indignance. This situation is a testament to the adage that everyone loves a winner. Losers, however, aren't forgiven.

One last item caught our eye, a story on ESPN's Soccernet (we are footie junkies) about John Henry's purchase of Liverpool, and we found it both unastounding and incredibly cynical. Henry says in response to a question about what he knew of that storied team (the Yankees of the EPL before Manchester United became the Yankees of the EPL), he states that he "knew virtually nothing about Liverpool Football Club nor EPL [the Premier League]". Henry may be playing dumb here, but in our mind there is a bit of revelation in this admission, and it should inform our view of this ownership: the Red Sox is not a sentimental holding for him. It is a commodity. When Henry perceives that maximum value has been extracted, he will move on. He will sell. The team is primarily a vehicle for revenue generation (and secondarily a vanity toy, of course). Henry is a financial tool, and we ought not think he is a fan like we are. He will do what he can to make the most money and he will move on, and whatever wreckage he leaves in the wake of that revenue extraction will be ours to inherit as fandom's collateral damage. Our trust has to be that Henry sees successes on the field as inextricably linked to revenues, but that may not actually be the case now or in the future. At some point maximum value will be reached, and at that point we are guessing Henry will look for another investment. We cannot expect or rely on the idea that John Henry cares about winning. He cares about money. For 8 years those two cares have been entwined. Those years will surely end.

20 replies on “Reality Check”

” Henry may be playing dumb here, but in our mind there is a bit of revelation in this admission, and it should inform our view of this ownership: the Red Sox is not a sentimental holding for him. It is a commodity.”
Quite honestly, it’s this core DNA that’s coming home to roost. The organization played for years as if every contract negotiation needed to be fought tooth and nail. It’s amazing to me that they let Damon go to the Yankees over $6M total dollars. That’s what Crawford made in one and a half months this year. When the Sox started throwing major money around, of course the vets remembered. Wakefield has never made more then $5M in any year and now he’s being derided as selfish?

Ath, Hohler’s article has this:
“Wakefield also was part of the problem. Amid a seemingly interminable quest for his 200th career victory, he went 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA in September, taxing the bullpen as the Sox lost four of his five starts. The 45-year-old knuckleballer then appeared more interested in himself than the team when he asserted in the final days of the season that the Sox should bring him back in 2012 to pursue the franchise’s all-time record for wins (shared by Roger Clemens and Cy Young at 192).
“I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record,’’ Wakefield told Fox Sports, raising eyebrows on Yawkey Way.
I have to say, I can’t really disagree with this assessment, that comment from Wake was totally arrogant – most fans wanted him to walk away, not keep chasing 200. He was tone-deaf like Henry.

“they would have been discussing this throughout the year since the friction was not even remotely sub-text”
That’s what I don’t get. Maybe Paul could better explain this to me but if I was a reporter I think the bigger “scoop” would be talking about it while it was happening rather than after the fact, right? Is it a matter of not burning bridges? A similar situation is going on with the Jets. There is obvious turmoil in the locker room, especially after they “traded” (conditional 7th rounder = a backup long snapper) Mason to the Texans, yet the GM says it’s because Jeremy Kurley (sp?) has made such a great impression as of late, lol. I get the whole sanctity of the locker room/clubhouse, but if you are going to blow up people’s spots anyway why not do it when it’s happening rather than what for the sh*t to hit the fan.
Did anyone see Big Papi on ESPN? He tried rationalizing his teams EPIC collapse by saying the Yankees only made it to the 1st round and lost, what’s the difference, more or less…When the Yankees collapsed the way they did to the Sox in the playoffs we were force fed the magnitude of the situation with no room for justification. So Papi, no excuses your team blew it and they blew it worse than the Mets. You’d trade an epic collapse for a 1st round exit in a second if you could.

“Wake was totally arrogant – most fans wanted him to walk away, not keep chasing 200. ”
Careful. He’s well-liked here. People are smaht enough to appreciate the knuckleball. And for as bad as he was, he’s still better than Lackey.
Keep in mind that Wakefield has been paid $50M for 31.5 fWAR in his career with the Sox. Lackey has made $34.6M for .6 fWAR in his two seasons with the Sox.
As far as I’m concerned, Wakefield should have a place with the team for as long as he wants. Realistically, he should get another season, especially with the state of their rotation and bullpen.

Ortiz is a guy who has yet to be asked the most basic question:
Where were you?
He spends what, 20 mins a game on the field? Pedroia isn’t in the clubhouse. Varitek isn’t in the clubhouse. Wakefield wasn’t in the clubhouse.
He’s a guy who looked past it all because he was getting his numbers. That was the leadership by example. I’m fine cause I got mine. From Henry, all the way down the line.

On Henry, given the way these things go, is there any doubt they’ll end up making hundreds of millions when they do decide to sell? The ownership group bought the Sox plus Fenway plus 80% of NESN for $700M in 2002. Ten years later, couldn’t they get $1 Billion?

James, as you continue to play armchair reporter in your preferred role of Capt. Obvious, you have failed to see that Ortiz has, in effect, been asked the question.
And he has reponded in rationalized, mealy-mouthed, BS terms.
Doesn’t his comment, “There’s too much drama here, I might think about signing with the Yankees,” tell you loads about him? What comments he has made, and by default what he HAS NOT said when given the chance, has been very telling. Clearly, he:
A. Lost his influence, became frustrated by that and responded childishly
B. Ceded his influence out of a sense of entitlement
C. Figured everything would work itself out and didn’t try until it was too late
My guess is that it’s either A or B.
There’s a great line from ‘Wall Street,’ when Bud Fox is about to get busted by the SEC. Jason Robards’ character says to him, “Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment he finds his character. That’s what keeps him out of the abyss.”
Apply that to Ortiz. He looked into the abyss, saw nothing, and folded.
His comment about considering the Yankees, frankly, makes him look like a douche.

Oof. The stuff about Pedroia and how no one spoke out for Francona is brutal.
Is this the biggest clubhouse blow up in sports history? This isn’t just fights among teammates or with a coach and player or an owner and a coach. This is an entire organization disintegrating down the line after unprecedented success. It’s like a True Hollywood Story or Behind the Music.
I officially pity you guys. And to think the off-season hasn’t even started yet.

Anyone watch the most recent video of Lucchino:
I bet he’s feeling good. He’s won in the same sense that Walter White has. The difference is he points Henry to the ledger and shows how much revenues up. He keeps printing money from the monopoly. And he knows all he has to do is put a winning team on the field. It will be interesting to see if the fans continue to show up. I bet Lucchino will have reason to keep smiling.
Bill –
Well said. I just think someone could ask him directly: Where were you? Why didn’t you say anything to your teammates?

Does anyone care that since Henry bought ‘Pool, they have completely imploded as well? They haven’t seriously threatened for an EPL title since…
Just saying. Go Fulham.

SF – funny, the article in the Guardian that this ESPN report came from paints a different picture across the pond. Reporters and fans in Liverpool feel that he is far more interested in the Sox than in Liverpool and that they only bought Liverpool as an investment since they have a much greater global following than the Sox will ever have.
Part 1 of article –
Part 2 of article –

So Henry whet on 98.5 Sports Hub this afternoon. Article claims he was listening to Felger and Massarotti and didn’t like what he heard so he drove to the station and “demanded” to be put on the air. They had a 70 min interview (boy ‘EEI must be PISSED at him that he gave his first extensive interview with the competition).
He claims he was the one that was opposed to the Crawford signing, but he doesn’t get involved with the baseball people and try to influence their decisions. He claims it wasn’t a PR move based on the 2010 season. (you have to think that will make Crawford really happy). He also claims he wants Theo back and that if Pedoria didn’t know what was going on in the clubhouse with the Texas Trio how was he to know. Felger called Pedoria a liar.
Let me preempt James, yes I know this is all spin and Henry can go toe-to-toe against most politicians, but at least he has finally talked about it to the media. The only issue I have is after everything that has come out, whether true or not, this ownership has about zero credibility right now with fans like those on this site so now when I read any comments that Henry makes I take them with a whole block of salt.
Interesting follow up to the radio appearance, he came out of the studio and addressed reporters. He claimed that he got an e-mail from Theo about the clubhouse and the e-mail said there wasn’t any issues. Was that a unsolicited e-mail from Theo or did someone from the ownership level ask Theo to look into potential issues in the clubhouse?
He was also very concerned that people think that signing Gonzalez and Crawford was a PR move, which was ironic since him storming the 98.5 studios and “demanding” to be heard was as blatant a PR move as you can have.

Not a big fan of the Owner of the company saying “hey, it wasn’t my decision, I deferred to the experts I hired”. I understand that this may be true, he may have deferred to baseball guys, but jeez, he could have at least said “I am the owner, I was convinced by a very strong case about why he was a great player, and I take responsibility since it was my approval required and I believe he will still be as good as I thought he could be”. I don’t know how this makes Henry look good at all, he is basically trying to have it both ways: he defers to the experts but at the same time says he thought it was a bad move (how convenient coming off of Crawford’s lost year!). It also can’t make Crawford feel too hot that his boss is basically telling him he’s the bum he thought he was, or thereabouts.
I am glad he defended Pedey against Felger, if he did indeed call him a liar. These press guys are vampires.

The most amazing bit of all of this is Henry has just legitimized the Sports Hub as a place where actual criticism matters (and hurts). It’s the one place in town where the team can’t control the narrative. And Felger just established himself for good. In the same week he called out NESN and Watney, he neutered WEEI. That’s unprecedented in Boston. Neither the Globe, NESN, or WEEI got, or forced, the exclusive. You do see though how much of a suck up Maz is. The yacht stuff he was helping Henry try to explain it away. Worse, they never got to the root cause of the team selfishness or how individual players were coddled by this ownership.
I find it interesting that Henry admitted only a few people would know about Theo and his meds. Yet, he stuck to defending Larry. Where the interview wasn’t great is they didn’t stay on him on that point. If it wasn’t Larry, then who? Will the person responsible be fired? Why do all breaks with the team and this ownership involve trashing the other side?
That’s where Henry was making a smart PR move, agreed BB. By showing up he catches them unprepared. At the same time, I bet he wishes he had the Crawford comments back. But that’s not a huge unforced error. He can always say Crawford proved him wrong.

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