Curtis: Between Red Sox And Liverpool, John Henry Stretched Thin
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BOSTON (CBS) -Today epitomizes just how thinly stretched John Henry is. Owning two of the worlds most valuable sports franchises makes for a strong portfolio, but also comes with massive responsibilities.
As Henry lands in Seattle to cope with his baseball team, now 11 games under .500 for the first time since 1997, he was forced to pen a letter to Liverpool fans who are enduring their worst start in nearly four decades (maybe if this sports thing fails he and Larry Lucchino can create a pen pal company).
When the Red Sox completed the biggest trade in the history of Major League Baseball, I wrote that it was the first step in the process of the team being sold. The reaction was intense and largely dismissive. The events today show just how difficult it is to own two such global franchises.
While Henry and GM Ben Cherington sit at Safeco field in Seattle deciding the future of Bobby Valentine, roughly ten thousand miles away in Anfield — home to one of the worlds most famous Soccer clubs — the fans of Liverpool are receiving a letter from Henry promising hard work and his undivided attention.
Spend more than 10 minutes on any Red Sox fan site and switch to that of Liverpool and the comments mirror each other; out of touch. Only interested in the other team. Why does he not speak? They go on and on.
These are the facts.
The Red Sox are at the apex of their value today. According to Lucchino and the rest of Fenway Sports Group they have completed the major renovations of Fenway Park (no matter what baseball move(s) you disagree with, they have done a remarkable job in remodeling the old yard).
NESN ratings are down significantly in the second half and will likely plummet in the final month of the season. In order for the team to get back to their championship roots, it must build from within and have the will power to avoid flashy high-priced free agents that got the team into this mess to begin with. In other words, the ones that bump interest in December. The Sox are at least two years away from championship contention and any future success requires a diligent and focused baseball operations unit to expedite the process.
While the sell-out streak has been fraudulent since early May, the team will likely be able to sustain it through the rest of the season. However, without massive cuts in ticket prices the season ticket renewals promise to be at an all time low for this ownership group and not even Lucchino could extend the streak through next Spring.
Liverpool on the other hand plays in a stadium that makes pre renovated Fenway look like Camden Yards. The team is the ’01 Sox only with worse characters. The fan base makes Red Sox nation resemble that of Tampa Bay Rays fans in intensity.
But most importantly, Fenway Sports Group has yet to see a profit on their purchase of the club, unlike that of the Red Sox which has at least tripled their investment.
So John Henry has two choices; he can hold on to the Red Sox and use it to help fund the needs of his soccer team, or he can lose the headache, sell the team at the top of its value and give Liverpool the massive attention it needs.
No matter what undivided attention John Henry proclaims to be giving, both Red Sox and Liverpool fans are losers in the current state of affairs.
Chris Curtis has produced 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The DA Show the last three years.
Follow him on Twitter @_ChrisCurtis.