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McGair: Red Sox brass enjoy attention

October 13, 2011

Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino and his fellow ownership partners have been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons this month.

Maybe in some perverse way, the Red Sox are enjoying all this attention.
Bad P.R.? Perish the thought. The bottoming out and subsequent fallout of the 2011 season has everyone still chirping even though two weeks have passed since left fielder Carl Crawford acted like a fish out of water in Baltimore, a snapshot that says it all with regards to the club’s sad regular-season finish.
The domination of the headlines and the late local news continued with Terry Francona’s ouster and Theo Epstein packing his bags for the Cubs. At a time when New Englanders should be re-routing their interest toward the Patriots and Bruins, the Red Sox continue monopolize the attention of everyone.
Back page or front page, lead story on the late local news or SportsCenter, the Red Sox have proven that they are not only in the business of winning ballgames, but also winning over the attention and adoration of the consumer. The folks on Yawkey Way want you – implore might be more appropriate – to pick up the newspaper in order to keep up to date, then call the talk shows to reveal what’s on your mind.
Seth Mnookin, the author of “Feeding the Monster,” was right all along. The Red Sox aren’t your prototypical major-league club. When it comes to seeking out media attention and formulating new revenue streams, John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner have a simple response: “Bring it on.”
Any news is good news because, dear reader, the Red Sox under this current ownership’s regime have become the equivalent of stock trading. You can’t take your eyes away for even a second, lest you might miss something.
The Red Sox are no longer on our minds only from April until October. There might be a foot of snow on the ground, but, heck, it’s perfectly kosher to talk about the Sox because Truck Day is being celebrated at Fenway Park. You know, the silly coronation in which trumpets blare as the moving van departs for Fort Myers.
We check the blogs or visit Sons of Sam Horn to see who’s added to a current thread or even started a new one. We flip on NESN in hopes that Sox emissary Peter Gammons is indulging us with his latest insider tip (wonder just how much info the Hall of Fame scribe will be privy to now that Epstein is Windy City-bound).
By fostering this type of year-round environment, Sox owners have created a setting in which everything is fair game to be dissected and analyzed. So what if the Patriots are smack dab in the middle of their season and the Bruins just raised the 2010-11 Stanley Cup champion banner?
Save for the diehards, none of that matters at the moment. What does matter is how the Red Sox plan on distancing themselves from the stench of 2011.
Is Ben Cherington the right guy to replace Epstein? Does Lucchino assume a greater role regarding player personnel? Who becomes the next manager? These are the types of questions/concerns that has everyone buzzing at moment, not whether Tom Brady can avoid getting crushed by the Cowboys’ fearsome pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, or if the Bruins, at 1-3, are suffering from a post-Stanley Cup letdown.
There might not be a NBA season? The World Series starts next Wednesday? Doesn’t matter around these parts. Thanks to the firestorm that has engulfed the Fenway offices, the Red Sox are front-and-center in the limelight. The startling Page 1 account in Wednesday’s Boston Globe in which no one came off smelling like a rose has served as food for the grist mill, a piece that has gotten plenty of mileage already and figures to continue serving as a chief reminder of how everything went totally awry.
Then there’s the backpage of Thursday’s Boston Herald, which included the following screaming headline: “Beckett Must Go,” a reference to Josh Beckett and the belief that Boston would be better off parting ways with the pitcher.
The Bruins? The team that’s actually playing games? The Herald did see fit to lend them backpage space – a small box, mind you. The Patriots were nowhere to be found on the backpage, even though Wednesdays in the NFL are typically viewed as the first day in which the media starts to preview in earnest the coming week’s opponent.
The Red Sox are still the rage even though their season has been over for some time now. One has to wonder: are all these accounts of what truly went down in the clubhouse along with the subsequent departures of Francona and Epstein no more than management’s way of making sure the Sox remain kings of the Boston sports scene?
One thing is certain through all this unrest, and that’s that the great Red Sox P.R. machine is firing on all cylinders. Sorry Bruins and Patriots.

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