John Henry Reaffirms Plans To Keep Red Sox, Denies Moves Made For PR Reasons
Red Sox Owner John Henry today "in his most uncertain terms yet" said that he has "no plans to sell the team," according to Scott Lauber of the BOSTON HERALD. Henry, who was "making his first public appearance since the end of last season," met the press at the team's Spring Training facility in Ft. Myers and said, "As long as we can do it, the three of us are committed to being here. These thoughts that we're somehow selling, those are just not true." Lauber notes the Dodgers last year sold for $2.15B, but Henry said he and Red Sox Chair Tom Werner "have made a lot of money over the years, so that doesn’t drive us." Henry “rejected the notion" put forth by former GM Theo Epstein and former manager Terry Francona that the team’s “shift in philosophy was related to ownership's preoccupation with marketing the Red Sox' brand and hiking TV ratings on NESN.” Henry: "I have to laugh because that is just laughable. It’s ludicrous to say that we signed any player since we've been here for PR purposes. I don't think anybody would assert that, and if it's asserted, it's just ludicrous." Although the Red Sox have “appeared allergic to contracts in excess of three years” since the end of last season, Henry said that the team “will remain active in the free agent market” (BOSTONHERALD.com, 2/11).
HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL: In Boston, Nick Cafardo noted while the Red Sox' season-ticket renewals are 10% "behind last year," the team is "enjoying a boost" of 8% in ticket sales for Spring Training games at JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers. Red Sox VP & COO Sam Kennedy "feels all the games at JetBlue Park will be sold out" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/10). In Boston, Joan Vennochi wrote under the header, "Selling The Red Sox." Vennochi: "The battle to win back the hearts, minds, and wallets of Red Sox Nation is underway." The Red Sox brand is "hurting, and the owners know it." Fixing it means "fielding a likeable, competitive team and selling it to fans." But there is a "new urgency to exciting longtime fans." The Red Sox are "victims of their own success," as the team's ownership "came to expect adulation." But over the past 18 months, they "learned just how tough a town Boston can be for losers." Winning is the "best revenge and ultimate marketing tool." Also, while community outreach "has always been part of the Sox strategy," it now is "taking on new twists." Baseball HOFer Jackie Robinson's son, David, "joined the Sox in visiting Boston middle schools to celebrate his father's legacy during Black History Month" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/10).