The Red Sox are a public trust. They are the heart and soul of New England. They are as important as any local institution. And last night they changed hands for the first time in 68 years.
Michigan-born, Yale grad Tom Yawkey rescued the franchise in 1933, and now we have unknown men named Henry and Werner taking charge of this most-cherished local team.
I wish I felt good about this and I hope I’m wrong. I wish I could get on the bandwagon and believe good things will come of this. Maybe John Henry and Tom Werner will be the best Boston sports owners since Walter Brown. Maybe they will build a new jewel of a ballpark in South Boston and reward us with a string of championship teams in the next decade.
But forgive me if I don’t trust these guys. Any of them ever been to Durgin Park? Any of ‘em know that the L Street Brownies swim in the ocean on New Year’s Day? Any of them know the meaning of Curt Gowdy and “Hi, neighbor, have a ‘Gansett?” Any of them know who hit Tony Conigliaro with that spitball in 1967? And that the pitch was thrown Aug. 18, a Friday night?
Shame on John Harrington. The cowardly little accountant had a chance to do something great and important here. This is the man who befriended Mrs. Yawkey all those years ago and - on that relationship alone - became CEO of the Red Sox and a Big Player in Major League Baseball. The record will show that when it came time to step up, Harrington caved to commissioner Bud Selig and the Lords of the Sport. He chose to serve the Boys in the Club rather than loyal, long-suffering, top-dollar-paying citizens of Red Sox Nation.
John Harrington and the Yawkey Trust win. You lose.
Joe O’Donnell and Steve Karp should be the new owners of the Boston Red Sox. They were the answer to every question. They have money. They have great reputations in the business community. They can get things built. They love New England. They grew up as Red Sox fans and share the blood type that flows through the veins of Red Sox Nation.
But Harrington didn’t want the local guys. He was no doubt worried that O’Donnell and Karp would make him look bad. On Monday, he extended Aramark’s concession deal for eight years, totally neutralizing O’Donnell’s alliance with the limited partners from Aramark. This was downright dishonest. You don’t make that kind of side deal when you are selling a team in an open bid.
So now we have this band of carpetbaggers, taking charge of our most cherished institution. Your Red Sox have been used as a pawn in the big league chess match between Major League Baseball and the Players Association. In the end, Bud Selig decided that putting a “team player” in Boston was more important than letting the Red Sox fall into the hands of a reputable local group.
A Red Sox season ticket-holder last night told me, “They took my lifetime love of the Boston Red Sox and put it in the Dumpster. They may as well have put it in a toxic waste site. This is the biggest New England bag job since Ali-Liston in Lewistson, Maine. Truly awful.”
Selig can be forgiven. He’s putting the overall good of the game ahead of what’s good for this signature franchise. It’s OK with him if we become the Kansas City Royals of the East. Makes us closer to Milwaukee.
The same cannot be said for Harrington. When he had his chance to shine, he sold out New England.
A book could be written about the sale of the Red Sox. What happened to Chuck Dolan? He had the most money, but Selig never wanted him. There was a problem with the Dolan family ownership of the Cleveland Indians. And baseball doesn’t trust billionaires who care only about TV programming.
Meanwhile, Selig was encouraging O’Donnell/Karp and Henry/Werner to join forces. They did join, and for a few hours, we had the ideal solution. The O’Donnell/Karp-Henry/Werner merger solved the problems of local ownership and the Big Fix that Bud was promoting. But in the end, O’Donnell and Henry could not agree on who would be the man in charge. When you are signing players to $160 million contracts, you need one person to be the final word. O’Donnell and Henry both wanted the voice.
So O’Donnell pulled out. And then Henry and Werner came up with the $700 million and became the favorites of Harrington.
They bought the limited partners. They’ve already got the votes from MLB. So local stadium-builder Larry Moulter was right when he went on “Sports Final” and said, “The fix is in.”
This was a bag job from start to finish. Bud got his man. The Trust got its money. John Harrington secured his fraudulent place in the Men’s Club of Major League Baseball. And the Red Sox were turned over to people who don’t know Fenway Park from Jellystone Park.