By: Chad Smith
There have been rumblings among the media in Boston the last few months about how the Boston Red Sox could be for sale. On Thursday an article on foxbusiness.com by Charlie Gasparino had sources saying that Fenway Sports Group has put out feelers to see what they could get for the Red Sox organization. Whether or not they sell the team remains to be seen, but as of right now just about every Red Sox fan is holding their collective breathe in hopes that a sale of the teams does in fact happen. John Henry has denied that the Red Sox are for sale saying that they were doing estate planning and finding out what the value of their different entities.
John Henry bought the Red Sox in February of 2002, and from then until 2007 (pre second championship) John Henry was one of the best owners in baseball. The Sox won two World Series breaking an 86 year drought, the farm system had been rebuilt, Fenway Park was renovated, and the Red Sox for all purposes were finally a head of the Yankees as a baseball team. At that time John Henry cared more about his baseball team the Boston Red Sox, then his business the Boston Red Sox and his portfolio. After winning a second World Series something changed on Yawkey Way. John began to expand his business by forming the Fenway Sports Group, buying a 50% stake in Roush Racing, selling bricks, caring about the sellout streak at Fenway, and making his biggest purchase in buying Liverpool soccer club in excess of a billion dollars. Clearly at some point Henry’s focus shifted from caring about the baseball team to caring about the baseball business. Since that shift in philosophy circa 2008 the Red Sox have won 0 World Series, 0 ALCS, 1 ALDS, and have missed the playoffs the last two years (I’m including this season). This organization has been trending backwards in a free fall demander the last few seasons that Red Sox fans do not care about the team or going to Fenway.
I went to Fenway the day they dumped Beckett, Gonzales, and Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers. My friend and I had bought tickets the night before not knowing any of this would happen and tickets in the outfield only cost us $7.89, $13.00 if you include stubhub fees. In 2007 you couldn’t get standing room only tickets for less than $30-$40 no matter who the Red Sox were playing. More disturbing than the price of the ticket is the fact my buddy and I made fun of this team the whole time and everyone around us was laughing, and when I asked people what the score was no one knew because no one cared. This was the first sports game I had been to in Boston and not been engaged in the game and knew the score. This ownership group has clearly lost the fan base, because no one in Boston thinks the owners care about the team.
The biggest the problem with the Red Sox is that right now the business people aka Larry Lucchino is influencing the baseball decisions and John Henry is letting it happen. Theo Epstein was able to keep Lucchino out of baseball decisions until the last few years of his tenure. When you look at the majority of Epstein’s tenure with the Red Sox he signed guys that would fit in the club house and make the baseball team better on the field. The last few season the Red Sox signed huge contracts to guys like Carl Crawford, a 30 year old speed guy that once his legs go he’s useless, and John Lackey, a 30 plus year old guy who has elbow problems. Those weren’t typical Epstein signings. Last October John Henry broke into 985 The Sports Hub radio studio and essentially said that Carl Crawford wasn’t a baseball signing. The business brains at the Red Sox saw the TV rating on NESN slipping and wanted the baseball brains to make moves that would increase the ratings, but while these moves were being made to increase TV ratings the clubhouse was going down the toilet.
In the past year the Red Sox have dumped over 200 million in salary, gone from the best team in baseball to the laughing stock of baseball after a chicken and beer filled September collapse, ran a two time World Series Championship manager out of town, proceeded to slander that two champion manager on his way out the door, force another manager to go insane, and have alienated an entire fan base. This ownership group has clearly lost their way and it’s time for them to sell and give the Red Sox franchise their soul back.