October 14, 2011
Long before he joined the fraternity of Major League Baseball owners, John Henry of the Boston Red Sox made his fortune in commodities. On a subconscious level, perhaps that is why Henry felt the need to hedge when revealing his feelings about the $142 million investment his team made with Carl Crawford(notes) before the season.
In a wide-ranging (if also awkward and rambling) interview with WBZ-FM radio in Boston on Friday afternoon, Henry tried to set the record straight, he said, on topics related to manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein leaving the Red Sox amid organizational chaos. Henry basically said, "No, it's YOU in who's in chaos," not the Red Sox.
And, in the process, he added an unnecessary blight to Crawford's bad first season in Boston.
Give a listen, with audio divided into two segments, Part 1 and Part 2. (Henry sounds kind of befuddled at times. But self-made billionaires can't be too befuddled, right? Still, they'll need to get Bill Nighy for the biopic.)
Henry defended himself from charges that he or team president Larry Lucchino were responsible for information in the controversial Boston Globe "chicken, beer and pain pills story" that has been construed, by some, as part of an effort to smear Francona's reputation.
Henry also defended himself, or came off as defensive, regarding Crawford's enormous contract, which to some at the time seemed like an attempt to improve falling TV ratings in New England. Reporter Alex Speier of WEEI radio collated some of what Henry said about Crawford:
"[Crawford was] definitely a 'baseball signing.' In fact, anyone involved in the process, anyone in upper management with the Red Sox will tell you that I personally opposed that," Henry said. "We had plenty of left-handed hitting. I don't have to go into why. I'll just tell you that at the time I opposed the deal, but I don't meddle to the point of making decisions for our baseball team. ... It wasn't a PR move. Neither was the [Adrian] Gonzalez signing."
Sometimes, honesty isn't the best policy. Or maybe, the whole truth is a bit too much, so help us God. As Jeff Sullivan of SB Nation points out, Henry's intent probably was not to make himself seem not responsible for what happens to the Red Sox. It's just that Henry lets his baseball people make baseball deals. Look at it this way: Even if Henry favored signing Crawford, the same rule applies. It was still Epstein's (and Lucchino's) call.
But how is Henry saying he was against Crawford going to help Crawford now? In his own words, Crawford has been contrite about his disappointing season, even though it's safe to say he tried his best. He seems to realize that he underperformed and was overpaid. He's going to come back in 2012 and, probably, play better. Does it do him any good to hear that the team's owner isn't his biggest fan? Probably the opposite of good. And it's going to be awkwaaaaaard the next time the Red Sox have a team party on Henry's sloop.
John Henry says he's ready to start fixin' what's wrong with the Red Sox. Good, because he's done too much talkin'.
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