Money, power, and ego can build great empires, they can also
tear them down quicker than you can say Antonio Montana. You
remember the fictional character in "Scarface", who rose from
nothing to make "the world his oyster." As fast as he became
the most powerful man in the drug world, he tore it down with
his ego and drive to screw the people who tried to screw him.
The world was the Red Sox owners oyster. John Henry, Tom
Werner, and Larry Lucchino, could do little wrong in Boston as
they turned the team into one incredible brand. They branched out
into owning a racing team and a European soccer franchise. And
they helped turn their television network into a cash-cow.
The empire appears to be starting to crumble. With the historic
collapse of the Red Sox, failing to make the playoffs despite
having a nine-game lead on September 4th, heads had to roll
and someone had to pay the price. After all, when you invest
$161 in a team, you don't expect to be embarrassed and beaten
out by a franchise like Tampa Bay and its $41 million dollar
payroll and fan base that doesn't care.
The Boston Globe came out with a magnificent piece on the fall
of the Red Sox on Wednesday, which might be the first chapter in
what could turn out to be the fall of the empire. The article detailed
what many already knew about the characters on the team. They
had none. Petulant child-like superstars who had to be pacified
with $300 headphones and a trip on the owners yacht after they
were upset about a schedule change. There was the outing of
the killer J's. Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Jon Lester, who
quit on the team and their conditioning programs, drinking beer
and wolfing down fried chicken as they played video games
instead of watching the team play.
But the most striking piece of the article was the utter character
assassination and smear campaign of manager Terry Francona,
who has two world series rings on his finger and the respect
of most everybody around baseball. However, when he said
so long in his press conference, he raised a lot of eyebrows when
he said that he felt he didn't have the support of the Red Sox
ownership. Nobody's eyebrows were raised more than Henry's,
Werner's, and Lucchino's, who thought there was going to be a
clean break, one where everyone looked good. So when they
came off looking a little bad, they put their best Antonio Montana
face on and said, "If you eff with me, I will kill you."
With that, they fed the Boston Globe with information about
Francona's crumbling marriage and his use of painkillers, turning
Tito into more of a scapegoat, and perhaps making another owner
think twice about hiring him. Here is Tito, a man who baby
sat the team through the likes of Manny Ramirez and the ornery
Nomar Garciaparra, who once refused to get off the bench in
a key game against the Yankees, while Derek Jeter got a facial
and split chin diving into the stands to catch a ball. Tito protected
his players through thick and thin. He said all the right things
about the players whom the owners wrongly gave millions to
and underperformed. (JD Drew, Dice-K, Crawford, Lackey)
But forget that and his loyalty to the organization. Francona made
the owners look bad and this character assassination is their revenge.
How weak, how sorry, and how petty of this ownership group.
We've seen this before,though. Lucchino was so jealous of Esptein
and his success, he threw him under bus, too, feeding a paper
information and mocking Esptein anonymously because he
never even played baseball at Brookline High School.
Don't eff with Henry, Werner, or Lucchino, or they will make
you pay. Behind their smiles and self-promotion, these guys
have wicked mean streaks like Antonio Montana. If you eff with
them, they can make your life miserable. They are trying to do
that with Francona. Soon enough, though, their empire will
crumble. It happens to most of them, sooner or later.