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.