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 and some semblance. Wooten not meant literally between here and seems like a -- minute Simpson list. Yeah -- done kilo home theater zimbalist is a sports economist and professor of economics at Smith College last week you were not at peace for the Boston Globe title. Fred -- is petty payback. The Sox owners who is critical of former Sox manager. First book -- recently released best seller next things on bass and discussing the same -- choice today into how are you. What are you good thank you I guess my first question would be with the op Ed in the globe is that something you pitch the -- 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 it 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 bulk. And I felt it was unfair. I by the way did not choose the title which puts a different title. The title as. Physical level but I certainly wrote the piece side I felt like. Hole a lot of the book. Engages in. These kind of -- accusations. I think it it -- Woodward were Francona and Shaughnessy who would site. Are presumed. Sentence. -- -- -- -- org or Werner 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 the problems a couple of things we wish we -- federal we wish we knew we could have said that better. 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 flagging. Flagging it ratings on on SN 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 -- something. It's just trying to you know you -- it's also top of your head that you're trying to have a discussion about issue. All and be Francona seems to have or Shaughnessy I don't know if you -- at the time was talking different called and he took notes it was refreshing Francona what's. Exactly how that happens but this pick out certain things like that taken out of context. I thought it was petty and it's probable -- the -- -- the more striking 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 -- any -- 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 year policies and experience. They invested almost 300 million dollars of of their own money renovating Fenway Park. Which is up against the plan that John Harrington had to. Tear down Fenway Park in and building new Parker down the street from Fenway Park primarily with hundreds of millions of dollars of public money is supposed to private money. And of course Boston although it provides market. It is not one of the biggest markets in baseball probably ranks if you if you look at all the indices and you combine them that we don't want uses to evaluate the economic war of both of host. Town -- city. Probably around a tenth of eleventh. Largest market overall. -- and yet there are there playing with the second highest payroll in baseball avalanche 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 type found it difficult you know Francona after all -- was was manager three years and then all of a sudden he has a bit year there's -- school in September. He himself has personally bad year which you know start with the -- marital separation. Rumors rumors of affairs. Probable addiction -- certain certainly serious problems with painkillers. And -- going on in the clubhouse is pretty clear that he loses control it just seems to me that he's trying to. To deflect 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 if you were told that 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 through my work with visually baseball. And of course I live in 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 lips are after all really Smart and I think that they'll 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 guy John Henry brought told James to Boston. Along with some other very good shape arbitration by the way. John John Henry understands a lot of Saber metrics that's quite important for the game of baseball. And I'd be willing to put his Saber metric volatile against Terry Francona is any day. Asserting your paper -- -- course -- respect. Many more hours. On the field but John Henry has I'm sure they're watching exit Francona knows that every doesn't put. That's not the point. These guys understand baseball its leaders say they don't understand each intricacies of the game. And it and they each bring in the look at it what I think it's a very important it is is that they complement each other make no law 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 -- stretcher EC Henry's on a minor league team too big -- seems Warner obviously. Went image routine that you write something obstructing. Why are they secret that Fenway for every play if they don't love team. Watch all games on key to an Arab -- -- -- the Sox news I guess my question will be how do you know. Those things are true about these guys. Because let's CNET and and sometimes. Small lose sleep -- such as -- Are you suggesting I'm having a relationship. Is going to -- 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 them about in the morning and public in my conversation by saying. You Dylan 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 you know we're probably -- in the ninth inning and he gave up three runs and I just I can't believe that happened. And that's not verbatim but it could kind of general description of hoping 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 -- was of course not but I do know that happens and I knew I do know that that's the sign of of a baseball fanatic. Or certainly somebody who loves his team economy is 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 have a Francona. And Demi that is something exists and if you. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Or for part of the game myself with them yes either either the field seats sure. Upstairs and so and yes and it's also true for worked with many other owners. Feel -- you should have mentioned maybe in the opposite gender 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 dolby and follow my work and would have respected. What I said no but I've consulted with -- Major League Baseball. I think if I had a business relationship where there were you know writing checks and I certainly would have Republicans 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 diet which changed a short email with -- Larry Lucchino or -- can remember. -- that it was on email exchange where I expressed some disgruntled and develop. The belt was coming out. Did you when you -- let me ask you this before 24 in the -- ultra quick did you read the entire book before -- wrote the op -- Quickly only because there was an interest -- all of the stores are being told. Right. Were you aware the legacy you look at it I mean -- Francona is one of the guys -- when -- the book. What strikes me a lot is -- a big -- Theo is now Francona is critical to but a lot of the 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 -- -- -- Part of 400 page study the -- refers to a -- of section players. Already which are well aware that I agree with you mean it's crazy I mean the television companies should be doing exactly that I really not a problem with that. But I probe might I guess my thing is it you know feel so much a factor that request. The -- is the also the severed his relationship with the result Antonio has so after after being brought into baseball but Larry Lucchino. Had some conflicts with Larry -- 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 the Lexington -- that. That he's a villain here I'm and Adam -- even saying that Terry Francona -- a villain I write that 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 an interview was -- and it was inaccurate and it was -- to the -- What do you think the proper role I guess I would ask of an owner is in Major League Baseball today ownership group beat 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 -- -- 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 cause significant distraction. And that's. At the root of what went wrong in 2011. And to me it's. It's just nonsensical. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- And and the manager -- matter. But what what an owner doesn't any team if the owners doing the job properly. Is to. Be an overseer it's still make. Long term strategic -- could medium term gesture should -- decisions it's too. Allocate and invest money in in building the club in building a public relations have been renovating that this stadium. That's that's political donor does a good owner doesn't do what Mark Cuban dozen -- and the fans in and standard. And in the in the stands and and -- the periphery or doesn't do what George Steinbrenner Ted Turner used to doing cold down by the manager -- -- -- -- -- player out of the game. Or impetuous it would 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 vouch for every single. Every single day in the summertime but as far as I know. We're in no -- or or are everywhere. Over in England -- doing doing Liverpool a C business day would watch the games on television. And 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 that's the investment. At the doorstep of the -- in September is system the dots. Can you can do it both ways only you say that it did you know you can't give the specific instance with that I guess so that's thing can you give me specific. Instance where Francona is reputed troubles. -- 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 court heard stories about it -- 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 and drinking beer and an eating French Fries or whatever was during the games. So that that to me is a pretty clear signal. 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 -- as opposed to the collection 25 individuals. And I think that that's pretty clearly. At. The the the problem of of what the managers to investment manager has to either looked after that control themselves. Or he's going to be talking to the general manager or to the president or to the owners can get them to do it and none of those things happened. Okay just before the -- Quincy where you've been paid by Major League Baseball in the past but not never by the Red Sox organization that's correct. -- -- appreciate your time thanks a lot from --

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