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Monday, February 04, 2013

Andrew Zimbalist: ‘Francona’ filled with ‘petty,’ inaccurate portrayals of Red Sox owners

Tonight’s Episode: “The Defector: Part 1” (A QM/WB Production)

Smith College professor of economics Andrew Zimbalist, in a podcast interview with Kirk Minihane to discuss the portrayal of Red Sox owners in “Francona: The Red Sox Years,” suggested that the book (co-authored by former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy) offered a dramatic misrepresentation of the strong work done by Sox owners during their almost 11 years in charge of the team.

“I felt like a lot of the book engages in these kinds of petty accusations where Francona and Shaughnessy would cite a presumed sentence that [Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino] uttered or that [chairman Tom Werner] or [principal owner John Henry] uttered. My reaction to that stuff is, ‘Come on – all of us are human beings and during the course of a week, all of us probably say a couple things we wish we hadn’t said or we wish we could have said it better,’ ” said Zimbalist. “When you’re sitting around in a meeting and you’re brainstorming about what should we do to deal with flagging ratings on NESN or issues with potential drops in season tickets or whatever the meeting might be, you’re sitting around and you’re brainstorming and you say something. It’s just trying to, it’s off the top of your head. You’re trying to have a discussion about an issue. . . .

“To take out certain things like that, to take them out of context, I thought it was petty. Some of the more strident things that were said about Henry and Werner not understanding the intricacies of baseball or that they don’t love the game, they only like the game, just seem to be me to be terribly inaccurate and mischaracterizations, and also not representative of what I think is really a terrific job overall that this ownership team has done. Obviously, any Sox fan who waited 80-plus years for the World Series know that they brought us two World Series over the course of 10 years, which is phenomenal, and except for the last few years, practically every year the postseason experience. They invested almost $300 million of their own money in Fenway Park, which is up against the plan that John Harrington had to tear down Fenway Park and build a new park that was down the street from Fenway Park, primarily with a plan that had hundreds of millions of dollars in public money as opposed to private money.

...Zimbalist added that the notion that the team’s owners do not love the game was also misleading.

“I think they’re all really smart. And I think they all really do love baseball, and I think they understand the intricacies of baseball,” said Zimbalist. “John Henry is a stats guy. John Henry brought Bill James to Boston — along with some other very good sabermetricians, by the way. John Henry understands a lot of sabermetrics that’s quite important in the game of baseball. I’d be willing to put his sabermetric knowledge up against Terry Francona’s any day.

Repoz Posted: February 04, 2013 at 06:38 AM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, red sox, sabermetrics

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   1. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:08 AM (#4361960)
I finished the book over the weekend and its not nearly as dramatic as some of the excerpts come across. Francona is pretty candid but I didn't think he was unfair toward the owners.
   2. Publius Publicola Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:37 AM (#4361964)
Why on earth did he choose CHB to co-author? That pretty much kills any desire on my part to read it.
   3. villageidiom Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:16 AM (#4361968)
Wasn't it mentioned in another thread that Zimbalist is now a paid consultant to MLB?
   4. tfbg9 Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:24 AM (#4361972)
I'm willing to say Tito knows boatloads more about baseball than JH, sabermetrically and non-sabermetrically speaking.

JH is a good owner, that's for sure.

I "got" the intro. Showing my age I guess.
   5. Dale Sams Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:36 AM (#4361976)
Smith College professor of economics Andrew Zimbalist


Relative to someone with the inside knowledge of Francona..."Who?"

John Henry understands a lot of sabermetrics that’s quite important in the game of baseball. I’d be willing to put his sabermetric knowledge up against Terry Francona’s any day.


There's something very interesting in an Economics professor singing the praises of a guy who went from "This money thing is just paper" to "We are crippled by giving this paper stuff to the likes of Carl Crawford."

and except for the last few years, practically every year the postseason experience.


Now THERE'S some selective data.

   6. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4361977)
Why on earth did he choose CHB to co-author? That pretty much kills any desire on my part to read it.


If you're interested in what Francona has to say don't let this dissuade you. Shaughnessy quotes him often and at length, there is never any doubt when you're reading Francona's words and when you're reading Shaughnessy's words. Shaughnessy's ########## comes through loud and clear in the book but it's not the majority of the text.

Wasn't it mentioned in another thread that Zimbalist is now a paid consultant to MLB?


Yes.
   7. akrasian Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:43 AM (#4361980)
Wasn't it mentioned in another thread that Zimbalist is now a paid consultant to MLB?

But just like any other paid consultant, he assures us that he gets to speak his own mind and the money doesn't affect what he says.
   8. The District Attorney Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:45 AM (#4361981)
Thread on the consultant thing is here.
   9. zack Posted: February 04, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4362102)
Zimbalist has what, a decade or more of credible analysis, usually against what the owners are fronting. These last two articles sure make him look bought but I think it would be hasty to dump him in the Haw Haw category so quickly.
   10. McCoy Posted: February 04, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4362111)
If his next article has him saying Iron Man 3 logos on bases is a good idea then we'll know he has been bought.
   11. Dale Sams Posted: February 04, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4362234)
I finished the book over the weekend and its not nearly as dramatic as some of the excerpts come across. Francona is pretty candid but I didn't think he was unfair toward the owners.


Anything on J.D. Drew? I predicted years ago that we would have to wait until this book to get the lowdown on "I gotta hangnail Skip."
   12. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 04, 2013 at 01:55 PM (#4362267)
Anything on J.D. Drew? I predicted years ago that we would have to wait until this book to get the lowdown on "I gotta hangnail Skip."


Positive on Drew. He acknowledged that he wasn't always ready to go but he was generally easy to manage, kept to himself and did a good job when he was in there. No "he wouldn't man up" type crap.

In general the people looking for salacious details and gossip are going to be disappointed. He really didn't blow anyone up, maybe Manny but even then it wasn't particularly incendiary.
   13. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 04, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4362272)
Zimbalist has what, a decade or more of credible analysis, usually against what the owners are fronting.


really, my impression of him has been 180 degrees the opposite, he has a decade of bought and paid for analysis literally trying to sell what the owners are fronting
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 04, 2013 at 04:04 PM (#4362489)

really, my impression of him has been 180 degrees the opposite, he has a decade of bought and paid for analysis literally trying to sell what the owners are fronting


I don't know what the timeline is, but way back in the day, he wrote the book on how publicly-financed baseball stadiums were a fraud. His more recent analysis does seem a lot more owner-friendly.

Has anyone read his book on Bud Selig?
   15. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 04, 2013 at 04:10 PM (#4362496)
I don't know what the timeline is, but way back in the day, he wrote the book on how publicly-financed baseball stadiums were a fraud. His more recent analysis does seem a lot more owner-friendly.

I read the book... it's extremely critical of MLB and public stadium financing. It also outlines, in detail, how wealthy teams hide revenue from MLB. I think it's the latter part that got Bud's interest.

Also, to the extent Zimbalist is no longer outspoken about stadium financing then his views are almost certainly compromised by virtue of his MLB relationship.
   16. Dale Sams Posted: February 04, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4362548)
$31???? (with tax) Jesus...even Red Sox baseball books are overpriced.
   17. Nasty Nate Posted: February 04, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4362565)
$31???? (with tax) Jesus...even Red Sox baseball books are overpriced.


Amazon has it for $15. Jeez, are you pessimistic about everything?!? (j/k).
   18. Bug Selig Posted: February 04, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4362571)
To take out certain things like that, to take them out of context, I thought it was petty.


As opposed to pulling an imaginary context out of your ass...

“When you’re sitting around in a meeting and you’re brainstorming about what should we do to deal with flagging ratings on NESN or issues with potential drops in season tickets or whatever the meeting might be, you’re sitting around and you’re brainstorming and you say something. It’s just trying to, it’s off the top of your head. You’re trying to have a discussion about an issue. . . .




   19. Dale Sams Posted: February 04, 2013 at 05:45 PM (#4362585)
Amazon has it for $15. Jeez, are you pessimistic about everything?!? (j/k).


Heh.
   20. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: February 04, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4362620)
Francona won't completely trash any players until after his managing days are over. (My guess.)
   21. DFA Posted: February 04, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4362636)
If I was in Francona's shoes and somehow an alleged issue with addiction became public knowledge, I would feel more than justified in sounding off on the ownership group. Zimbalist calling Francona "petty" is a little much IMO.
   22. Darren Posted: February 04, 2013 at 07:43 PM (#4362702)
Zimblast is trashing the idea of using public funds for stadiums here, so I don't think he's acting as an MLB mouthpiece. He's also taking a shot a guy who's currently the manager of an MLB team, which I wouldn't think MLB would like very much.

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