ABC – As the Boston Red Sox stepped out into the sun Monday for their first full-squad workout of spring training, owner John Henry maintained that he’s more concerned about W’s and L’s than the team’s Q rating. “We really don’t need to be popular,” Henry said. “We need to win.” But despite winning 93 games and the American League East title for a second straight season in 2017, questions were raised about the Red Sox’s likability. Although attendance at Fenway Park remained almost unchanged, regional television ratings were down 15 percent on New England Sports Network, according to Nielsen Media data, while sports-talk airwaves were filled with the grievances of dissatisfied fans.
If you’ve ever read “Feeding the Monster” then you know exactly what I’m talking about here. In the behind the scenes book covering the inner workings of the Red Sox you read about a young Theo Epstein going to battle time and time again with Tom Werner and the entertainment side of the Sox over player personnel.
Theo wanted to build a farm system and sign smart, albeit boring, free agents to, ya know, win. Tom Werner isn’t against winning per se, but goddamnit the Red Sox needed to be sexy. He wanted more big names, more story lines.Winning be damned. The team had to be marketable to more demos with more attractive stars. Seriously. Read the book, Werner said that shit. You think hits like Roseanne just fall into place? No way. It takes years of creative genius steering the ship and shame on Theo for not listening to the Neilsen Rating System more when building his roster. Guy never stood a chance as a baseball executive going up against brainpower like Tom Werner.
Goddamnit. Can you tell I’m still bitter about the Red Sox running the best baseball mind of our generation out of town?
Anyways, if we’re going to take John Henry at his word, it seems like he may be smartening up. He’s not exactly George Steinbrenner so he’s not going to just punt on everything that doesn’t directly lead to winning. But, Henry is a smart dude, he knows that popularity follows winning, not the other way around. If the Red Sox are hammering opposing teams all summer on their way to a World Series then they’ll be pretty damn popular. However, if the team is focused on signing guys based solely on their marketability (i.e Pablo Sandoval the Panda) well thats how you find yourselves in a shit storm you’re still digging out of 3 years later.