In a move I didn’t think possible, the Boston Red Sox saga became even more surreal yesterday when Principal Owner John Henry showed up at the 98.5 The Sports Hub (or as WEEI called it “CBS Radio”) and responded to being asked why he was there with:
“Well, when you’re misleading the public, you should be challenged on some of the things you’re saying so I’m here to challenge some of the things you’ve been saying.”
And they were off.
I’ve listened to the interview twice now and read just about every local writer’s interpretation of it and yet I’m still not completely sure how I feel about it all.
Some thoughts in a not particularly well-formed presentation:
* While he sounded a little shaky at the beginning (really “pissed” is probably a better word than shaky) he settled in and, in my opinion, spoke as honestly as he could about what has been going on.
* I believe him when he says the leak didn’t come from him or Tom Werner or Larry Lucchino. History might give us reasons for not completely trusting them in regard to leaks, especially LL, but in this case there is too much damage being done to their brand. It makes no sense to me unless I’m going to admit that Lucchino is more driven by spite than he is success. They need to hire a new manager and, apparently, a new general manager well within the next six months. Leaking this kind of information is going to make many the potential candidate tell them to stick it and I don’t think any of them are stupid enough to do that.
* Having written that, I would still like to know why JWH kept insisting the Bob Hohler has said the leak didn’t come from them because, as far as I can tell, he hasn’t said anything of the kind. (Along these same lines, why hasn’t Hohler come out and said “No, I didn’t say that”? No one will make me believe that Hohler isn’t following the fallout from his column in the obsessive way my Aunt Mary used to follow her “stories” on television.)
* While I think Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti asked some good (and tough) questions, I don’t understand the arrogance behind being a horse’s ass right to someone’s face. They insulted him many times, whether it was speaking sarcastically about his falling the day Tito resigned, or the digs about his wife…I don’t know how JWH didn’t punch one of them right in the face…or pay someone to do it. (I need a job, Mr. Henry, and I’d be happy to help!)
* Oddly enough, as rude as they were to his face, they were cowards as well because they waited until he left to start ripping him apart. So while I give JWH credit for speaking out I also question his choice of people to speak out to. He could have used anyone on either radio station, he didn’t have to pick two of the biggest jackasses in Boston.
* While he never came right out and said “Theo’s gone” (and actually answered “No” when he was asked straight up “Is Theo gone?”) he definitely made it sound like it will be so and he also sounded like he wasn’t happy about it. He didn’t get into specifics, saying it was disrespectful to Theo and the Cubs to do so, but barring some weird ass stuff (that we all know could possibly happen) we have lost our general manager.
* I think JWH was being sincere. He came out and admitted that he was against the Carl Crawford signing (and then said he trusts “the baseball people’s” decisions on such matters)…much to the dismay of many who think that admission will turn Crawford sour on the team. It’s fair to note he said the same thing about the Josh Beckett trade while also noting that Carl Crawford already knows that the team hired a private investigator to follow him while they were doing their due diligence on him. The fact that the team signed Crawford should be proof enough that, ultimately, Henry was good with the deal and I’m certainly not worried that this revelation is going to make Crawford decide he wants a trade (the most common over-reaction I’ve read about what JWH said).
* He defended his team, saying that the reason for the collapse was the starting pitching failed and that clubhouse issues being written about have been blown up and taken out of context (Heidi Watney is on record as saying the same thing). Felger came out and said that he, and Dustin Pedroia, were lying to protect the team and his response to that was to say “So everyone is lying except the media?”…point, John Henry.
* JWH didn’t sit there and say that there is nothing wrong with the team. He said there are issues that need to be addressed and that it is something they would do privately. Of course for many, including the two people he was speaking with, anything short of public floggings wont’ be good enough.
Were I one of his advisers, there is no way I would have suggested his going on this show to defend his team’s, wife’s and partners’ honors but as a fan, I’m glad that he did. The silence from Yawkey Way went on too long and someone needed to speak up. For the record, I’m becoming more convinced that most if not all the unnamed sources involved with the team in Bob Hohler’s piece were members of the media. They’re the ones who claim they’re so close to the team that they know things they can’t talk about. Feels like they started talking when the season ended and did it anonymously instead of through their own columns so they don’t get blacklisted by the team next year.
It was interesting to get feedback yesterday from NON Red Sox fans about the interview. It was almost unanimous from the folks who contacted me that they thought JWH’s appearance was a tremendous mistake. I suppose on the surface that makes sense. I can see why people would be saying “What was he thinking?” but the reality is if he didn’t do it things wouldn’t settle down they would just fester and there needed to come a point when someone on the team just said “Enough, let’s get this out there”. There are plenty of Red Sox fans who not only didn’t think he should have said anything, but thought everything he said was bull. I’m not one of them. I think there are some people who choose to not be happy or, in this case, not accept anything that is presented to them unless it’s negative. I can’t live like that. Life is too damn short for me to be that cynical. I think JWH spoke as sincerely as he could and I’m happy that it’s out there.
All I ask of now is an end to the Theo Epstein drama so this team can start to move forward. This town needs to get past all the crap and start thinking about what is going to happen in 2012.