When Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig put together the three-way franchise deal of 2002 under which Jeffrey Loria sold his Montreal Expos to MLB, took over ownership of the Florida Marlins, and in which Marlin owner John Henry then purchased the Red Sox from the Tom Yawkey Estate, a couple of other names appeared in the deal, which threw chills down the spine of real baseball fans. Those names were Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, who became Henry’s partners in owning and operating the Red Sox.
It was the combination of Werner as majority owner and Lucchino as team President who looted, decimated, and left the San Diego Padres franchise for dead, ten years earlier. It seemed a mystery how Commissioner Selig and the membership committee could even consider letting Werner back in to an ownership position. I guess the billions he made in producing and then syndicating Cosby, 3d Rock, Rosanne, Mork & Mindy, etc., provided a little bit of leverage. Had I made a prediction, I would have thought any influence he or Lucchino would have would be disastrous for the Red Sox.
But, giving him the credit he is due, it was Lucchino who hired the young and unknown Theo Epstein, and the rest was history, with Boston winning two World Series titles over eight Henry-Werner-Lucchino-Epstein-Francona years. Then the roof fell in, as we knew it would.
Forgetting the most successful era in Red Sox annals, after a late season collapse like no other in history, Epstein and Francona were politely shoved out the rear door. There, the politeness ended. The Boston Globe (which has a 16% ownership interest in the Red Sox and which obtained insider info apparently from some or all of those other owners mentioned above) printed an insider expose’ of the goings on behind clubhouse doors, that thoroughly trashed Terry Francona, one of the great managers in the game, one of its good guys, and the shinning light in the managerial history of the Red Sox.
All of this has accomplished three things:
1. Having hired Theo Epstein as their new GM, the Chicago Cubs are now in a position to finally reward their faithful with on-field excellence, and maybe a trip or three to the World Series;
2. Some other team yet unknown will reap the benefit of Francona on the bench calling the shots. Which ever team lands him will be set as a contender for the next decade; and
3. Red Sox fans now suffer from acute schizophrenia, as Dodgers’ fans have for the past couple of years. On the one hand, they love their BoSox, but their overriding feeling is that ownership has betrayed them, and they should not benefit from their misdeeds. How could they let Francona and Epstein go? How could they supply such dissension-producing fact or fiction to be put in print? How could they betray their fans so horribly? How?
Until I was nine years old and the Dodgers moved west to Los Angeles, my favorite team was that far-away Boston team, my father’s hometown team, and Ted Williams was my favorite player. Over the years while my allegiance has always been with the Dodgers and Angels, when they were out of it, and especially as they battled the n y yankee scumstripes, I always felt that little twinge that was pulling for Boston. That feeling now belongs to Tampa Bay.
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