The Boston Globe’s in-depth article on why and how the hard-drinking Boston Red Sox collapsed has the sports world buzzing.
But if you read one article about the Sox today, make it David Conn’s feature on owner John W. Henry in The Guardian.
Here are three highlights:
The Red Sox resent the revenue sharing imposed by Major League Baseball. Revenue sharing in MLB pales in comparison to the NFL. But teams like the Sox and Yankees still have to give up a cut of their cash to smaller clubs. Writes Conn: “[Owner] Tom Werner was quite open that, as a richer franchise, Fenway resents how much money it is taxed, which is not publicly disclosed.”
Henry knew “virtually nothing” after Liverpool or English soccer before buying the club. This is a remarkable statement for an American EPL owner to make considering the fact that English fans generally resent American owners already.
Henry’s concise explanation on the philosophy that made the Red Sox great in the last 10 years: “We’ll look at stats no one else will look at, employ scouting in a way that has a compelling organisational context, question everything and everyone and ensure we have the best player development curriculum and protocols. In short, we are determined to outwork everyone else and hopefully be smarter every year.”
Beyond those three points, the piece is great because takes an outsider’s view of American sports.
Conn obviously knows little about baseball (he says Fenway has “the expansiveness of a cricket ground”). But his detachment makes for some interesting observations, like this one about Red Sox fans:
With The Star Spangled Banner sung before the game by the pure young voices of Scouts or glee clubs, the baseball frames an idealised vision of how much of middle America would like to see their country. To the English eye, the Red Sox fans, agreeable enough even in defeat, seem a world away from a sporting passion that anybody could possibly describe as more important than life and death.
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