Red Sox Ownership Fighting The Perception That Focus Lies Elsewhere
If there is "one characterization Red Sox ownership resents, it's that they're absentee overseers who'd rather wear scarves to soccer matches than engage in running their biggest investment," according to John Tomase of the BOSTON HERALD. Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino and Fenway Sports Group co-Chairs Tom Werner and John Henry on Thursday "suddenly appeared on the field during batting practice" before the team's game against the Orioles in Baltimore. Lucchino "recognizes that the brand isn’t what it was two years ago," as ticket demand "is down." Tomase writes, "The stench of last September permeates every level of the club." The team is "two further years removed from success." Lucchino said, "The brand, a significant component of it is on-field success. We’ve taken a few hits, but there are still passionate Red Sox fans everywhere." He added, "We have to be sure we remember the cynical jaded media does not speak for . . . they don’t necessarily capture the voice of the fanbase." Lucchino: "Every franchise, every brand goes through rough times. ... If it’s broke, we’ll fix it" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/17). Lucchino yesterday on WEEI radio added, "We’ve had a long run of success. We’ve created very high expectations for the franchise. Sometimes those high expectations are not met, and the result is a reduction, a hit to the brand and to the team and to the fan base" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 8/17).
MEDIA'S ROLE: ESPN BOSTON writes Lucchino wants to dispel the notion that ownership is "not fully invested in the Red Sox." Lucchino said, "These guys are present. They are involved in the governance of the club and to suggest otherwise, as many people have done with this notion they're more focused on other things besides the Red Sox, is just misleading the public." Lucchino also said that he "blames the media 'a little bit' for exaggerating the drama surrounding the Red Sox this season," and added that the "notion that intense coverage of the team might play a factor in making Boston an undesirable destination for players is not a new one." Lucchino: "My sense is that has been the conventional wisdom for a long time, that certainly years before we got here and it was something we were determined to change." He added that the team "also has tried to make it more attractive to players by upgrading the training facilities at Fenway Park." But he said, "What we haven't had much luck at is improving the media coverage" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 8/17).
MOVING FORWARD: In Boston, Nick Cafardo writes the Red Sox owners "have been accused of being disengaged and aloof," but on Thursday they "were very much interested in the current state of the team and disappointed with the way things have gone." It "seemed as though they wanted to show their critics that they do care, as they engaged with their employees during batting practice, around the cage, and in the dugout." Cafardo: "Some will think it’s too little too late. Others will simply wait to see what they do about this 2012 failure after the 2011 failure and the 2010 failure." If the owners are "disengaged, as some charge, they do not act that way." In fact, they have been "far more visible than ever the last few weeks." Cafardo: "Now, it appears, with the team at a low point in this 10-year ownership, they realize they need to be more interested and more hands-on" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/17). In Florida, David Moulton writes under the header, "Will The Real John Henry Please Stand Up (And Fix This Fenway Mess)." Moulton asks, "Did someone kidnap Boston Red Sox owner John Henry?" The Henry "that owns the Red Sox would never agree" to the meeting with the players that took place (NAPLES DAILY NEWS, 8/17).