WEEI>On Demand>>20 Minutes of Silence with Kirk Minihane: Baseball economist Andrew Zimbalist discusses Red Sox ownership

20 Minutes of Silence with Kirk Minihane: Baseball economist Andrew Zimbalist discusses Red Sox ownership

Feb 3, 2013|

Baseball economist and Smith College professor Andrew Zimbalist joins Kirk to discuss his recent Boston Globe column defending the record of the Red Sox ownership group from some of the charges raised in "Francona: The Red Sox Years."

Transcript - will not be 100% accurate

It's cool it's. Owens. Witten not meant literally Beasley here. Seems like the grueling minutes instantly. You -- done to it resemble a Sissy sports economist and professor of economics at Smith College last week you were not at peace for the Boston Globe title. Franklin is -- payback. The Sox owners who is critical of former Sox manager. First book his recently released best seller makes things on -- and discussing the same top fifty choice today and for how are you. What are you good thank you I guess my first question would be with the up in the globe is that something you pitch the globe that they come to you and I guess what made you feel compelled to write it. Call I don't think I've felt compelled to write and I had to read the Sports Illustrated piece like sort of Reading some of the coverage in the Boston media started to go to look at the ball. And I felt it was unfair. -- by the way did not choose the title which -- go to different title. The title as. Physical level but I certainly wrote the -- side I felt like to. Hole a lot of the book. Engages in. These kind of pity accusations. I think it you -- -- aware of where Francona and Shaughnessy who would -- I presumed. Sentence. Lucchino -- or aware or Henry -- And my reaction to that stuff is c'mon all of us are human beings and during the course of the week. All it was probably say a couple of things we wish we have Federer we wish we knew we could have said that better. And you know when you're going when you're sitting around the meeting you and your brain -- about what should we do -- to deal with -- you know play game. Flagging it ratings on on session or issues with. Potential potential drops in and season tickets or whatever the whatever the problem might be you're sitting around in your brainstorming -- -- say something. It's just trying to -- you know -- it's also top of your head that you try to have a discussion about issue. All and be Francona seems to have or Shaughnessy I don't know if you Shaughnessy of the club was talking different called and he took notes it was refreshing Francona -- Exactly how that happened but -- -- pick out certain things like that taken out of context. I thought it was petty and it's some -- the the views divorce strike and things that would set about. Henry and don't Warner not understanding the intricacies of baseball or that they don't love the game they only like two game. Just seem to me to be. Terribly terribly inaccurate and then missed characterizations. And also not. Not representative. Of what I think is really terrific job overall that this ownership team has done. You know obviously and the -- and -- -- and who waited eighty plus years for World Series you know that they brought us two World Series. In the course of ten years. In which is probable and except for the last two years practically every your post season experience. They invested almost 300 million dollars of of their own money in renovating Fenway Park. Which is up against the plan that John Harrington had to. Tear down Fenway Park in and build a new partner down the street from Fenway prior primarily with hundreds of millions of dollars of public money is supposed to private money. And of course Boston although it -- market. It is not one of the biggest market in baseball probably ranks if you if you look at all the industries and you combine them that we don't want uses to evaluate the economic course of -- of host. -- -- -- Probably around -- tenth -- eleventh. Largest market overall. And it and yet there are there playing with the second highest payroll in baseball or -- or four years. So I think that you know that this is an ownership group that has done really well and by Boston and I I just pride found it difficult you know Francona after all -- was was manager three years and and all of a sudden he has a -- year there's a school in September. He himself has personally bad year which you know start with the a marital separation. There are rumors rumors of affairs. Probable addiction certainty certainly serious problems with painkillers. And that's going on in the clubhouse is pretty clear that he loses control it just seems to me that he's trying to. It deflected the culpability to deflect the blame. From himself and the owners and frankly I think it's an appropriate. You've worked with Major League teams. In the past correct. I I have and I've worked with that I continue to work with the commissioner's office -- you -- -- -- this ownership group and are never been paid by the Red Sox toward November has got to know all the ownership groups are virtually all of them do it through my work with visually baseball. And of course Livan western Massachusetts are probably see this ownership group more often and proceed. Other ownership just -- -- it but it never did it but it's. Individually and look at Henry in the Keeneland where I guess in your interactions with that do you. Our -- -- after all really Smart and I think that they all really do love baseball and I think they understand the intricacies of baseball you know it's it's a little bit ironic. John Henry it is business stats god John Henry brought Bill James to Boston. Along with some other very good shape arbitration by the way. John John Henry understands a lot of Saber metric so that's quite important for the game of baseball. And I'd be willing to put his Saber metric -- up against Terry Francona is any day. Asserting your paper Francona of course -- respect. Many more hours. On the field but John Henry has I'm sure they're watching things that Francona noted every doesn't put. That's not the point. These guys understand baseball its leaders say they don't understand the interest intricacies of the game. And and they each bring in -- look at it what I think it's a very important it is is that they complement each other and they get along well. It's not ownership group that the cute with each other that's not to say there have been disagreements of course there have every every team has internal disagreements. But they get along really well to this day I think that it's a great partnership. Amongst them and -- about respect all have a great deal. Right in junior op Ed piece in the globe. The notion Henry and Werner all of baseball's head stretcher EC Henry's on a minor league team to big league seems Warner obviously. Went to major to -- rewrite something that struck mean why they -- that Fenway for every play they don't love team. Watch old games on -- and narrow the talent and lose sleep on the Sox news I guess my question will be how do you know. Those things are true about these guys. Because let's see that and and sometimes. Small lose sleep whether -- -- with that. Are you suggesting I'm having a relation to this point guards yeah I want -- so so so what might happen and that is probably happened two or three. Maybe four times over the years that. I have some business I don't do it related to Major League Baseball that I'm talking to him about in the morning and probably get my conversation by saying. You Dillon and the first thing out here is. -- last night. But I chose to come and usually you know did you did you see that we know we're brother relief pitcher in the ninth inning and he gave up three runs and just start temple -- -- that happen. And that's not verbatim that is kind of a general description of something that over the course of the last ten years I've heard that several times from them. The white blood noted that happens every time that the Sox lose of course not but I do know that happens and I knew I do know that that's the sign of of baseball fanatic. Or certainly somebody who loves this team -- to me it just struck me is really peculiar to say that they don't want baseball. Would you say though it's fair to say I guess coming from your perspective though that you have a relationship with these owners you didn't travel -- Francona. And -- that is something exists and if you. I don't have a bit of a -- and -- good -- sure I have a different relationship he sat with them for games for instance in their and their -- with this on the. Or for part of the game myself with them yes either either the field seats sure. Upstairs I have so and yes and it's also true for worked with many other owners. -- feel -- he should have mentioned maybe in the opposite -- relationship with the owners seem like the owners and you don't have a Francona. I don't know if not necessarily get credit I had a discussion would. With the Boston Globe and I think that people who booed -- and follow my work it would've respected. What I said no that I consulted with eventually baseball. I think if I had a business relationship where there were you know writing these checks and I certainly would probably -- an obligation to disclose. Did you discuss the book with these guys after it came out in between when you wrote the op Ed piece. I think I hate speech changed a short email with beaver Larry Lucchino or -- can remember. Yeah that it was on email exchange where I expressed some disgruntled and develop. The -- was coming now. Did you when you -- let me ask you this before 24 in the -- ultra quick did you read the entire book before looking -- -- Quickly only because there was an interest -- all of the stories are being told. Right. Were you aware the legacy you look at it I mean -- Francona is one of the guys -- when you're the book. What strikes me a lot is what a big factor Theo is now Francona is critical to but a lot of criticism. Comes from Theo Epstein I mean the TV marketing stuff that's stories from feel he was in the room there. Where you can talk you talk commit more recent study that was commissioned and when they've -- there's a part of -- -- under the -- refers to a need to have section players. Already terrible either way I agree with you mean it's crazy you mean the television companies should be doing exactly that I really not a problem with that. But I -- -- I guess might -- is it you know feel so much a factor that request. Theo is -- also the severed his relationship with the Red Sox -- has so after that after being brought into baseball but Larry Lucchino. Had some conflicts with Larry Lucchino over the years. I think that there's probably some some residual tension there. And so yes I noticed that I I don't have any need to independently isolate Theo Epstein that it. That is a villain here I'm and -- I even saying that Terry Francona as a villain I write that the Terry Francona felt the need. To vindicate himself after are some of the stories that came out. During and after the September shuffled in 2011. And I think that motivated good part of the sport and -- and to me it was -- and it was inaccurate and it was unfair to the owners. What do you think the proper role I guess I would ask of an owner is in Major League Baseball today ownership group -- the. Yes that's another thing of course that came out in the book and came around the Sports Illustrated piece which is this notion that what was -- in 2011. Was not something in her friend called his personal life and it was not a third factor but it was that. That the John Henry and Tom Werner and Fenway sports group bought Liverpool football club. In the Premier League in England and that created -- significant distraction. And that's. At the root of what went wrong in 2011. And to me it's -- it's just nonsensical. I need -- first of all the guy who's who's running the day to day operation of the team -- not Hendry does not -- merged -- -- you know along with along with the GM and -- all sorts of -- -- -- all sorts of other people. And and the manager -- matter. But what what an owner doesn't any team if the owners doing the job properly. It is to. Be an overseer it's still make. Long term strategic Corey could medium term picture should -- decisions it's too. Allocate and invest money in in building the club in building a public relations and in renovating that this stadium. That's that's what a good owner does a good owner doesn't do what Mark Cuban dozen -- and the fans in and standard. Standard in the stands and and -- the periphery or doesn't do what George Steinbrenner -- -- used to doing cold down by the manager problem DePaul player out of the game. Or. -- it was quick fire managers every three weeks. That's not what a good owner does and as far as I know and I can't I can't coach for every single. Every single day in the summertime but as far as I know. Win no werder or or everywhere. Over in England -- -- doing doing Liverpool a C business day would watch the games on television. In they would stay in regular touch with Larry Lucchino. And I just. You know unless somebody can come forward and say here's a specific instance where they didn't have their eye on the ball and it caused the problem. I just don't believe that as an issue and certainly that notion that you would you would put a little pool and some investment. At the doorstep of the Sloan in September is system the dots. Can you can do it both ways only you say that it did you can't give a specific instance with that I guess so -- -- can you give me specific. Instance where Francona is reputed troubles. Hurt the Red Sox -- September 2000 overly specific and instance. Where where his personal troubles that right. Well I know because there wasn't. In the clubhouse -- heard stories about it but I read what you know the whole piece in in the Boston Globe that that talked about. The players. Playing. Playing games in the clubhouse drinking beer and and eating French Fries or whatever was during the games. So that that to me is a pretty clear signal that. The that the clubhouse. Is is not focused on what it needs to be focused on the team has bought behaving. In a team like ways that -- as opposed to the collection 25 individuals. And I think that that's pretty clearly. At. That the the the problem of of what the managers don't -- the manager has to either looked after that control himself. Or he's got to be talking to the general manager or to the president or to the owners and get them to do it and none of those things happened. Okay just before the sure -- where you've been paid by Major League Baseball in the past but not never by the Red Sox organization that's correct. Our injury appreciate your time thanks a lot from --

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