Thursday, February 14, 2013

Boston Red Sox should move on from spin doctor Larry Lucchino

FVP favorite whipping boy Larry Lucchino met the media today at Fort Myers as the Season of Damage Control continued for the Boston Red Sox. Lucchino spoke at length today, touching on various topics from the farcical sell out streak to the 2013 outlook, the all important marketing campaign (note the sarcasm) and Terry Francona's book. The bottom line in the FVP offices? Every time this guy opens his mouth, he talks down to the very educated fan base. He's comes off as the know it all boss we've all worked for that went down with a sinking ship. If John Henry and the brain trust on Yawkey Way truely want to regain standing with the fan base, the answer is clear, Lucchino must go.

The foolishness of the "sellout streak" appears to be over, perhaps a year or more too late. Lucchino spoke at length on this, still defending the spin that went on. "I know there's been a battle of definitions going on out there. I'll say a couple of things about it. One is we took the definition that was in place when we got here," Lucchino said. "We didn't gerrymander a new definition. We took the definition that was in place and had been in place 10, 20 years before us and was commonplace among many clubs in baseball.

"And then there's a dictionary, literal definition that some have taken. But I would just point you to one fact. Over the last 11 years, and I checked this this morning in anticipation this might come up. We have sold -- sold -- roughly 36,200 tickets [per game]. Our capacity over that time has changed. That capacity is something like 36,300, something like that.

"We have sold 99.6 percent of the available seating capacity over the last 11 years, and our comp tickets are among the lowest in all of baseball. We talk about having more people in the ballpark than there are seats for them. That's been the operating definition. You can choose a different one and say it doesn't fit it. But the truth is we've sold 36,170-something tickets over the course of the last 11 years, and that by itself -- put aside definitions or semantics -- that by itself is extraordinary. Selling 99.6 percent of the tickets is extraordinary."


Larry, Larry, Larry, tsk tsk tsk. It's not extraordinary sell a large number of tickets to the secondary markets like Ace Tickets. Granted, it's smart business, but once it's clear the market has dried up and there's empty seats in the building, the continued advancement of the streak is foolishness. It insults the fans who can see the seats are empty. Lucchino's continued defense of the position and the pounding on the definition of "what is a sellout" shows he clearly feels the fan base will drink the kool aide. At least he's finally admitting that it's over, so we can at least move on from this fiasco.

As far as the 2013 on the field product, Lucchino says "I actually like being the underdog. The fact that the media and the sports pundits pick us in the lower reaches of the American League East is in some ways challenging and comforting to me. It wasn't that long ago [Spring Training of 2011] when some people in this room talked about the greatest team of all time, a 100-victory season and all of that. They were wrong then and many of them are wrong now."

It's comforting? You like being the underdog? So the Boston Red Sox, foil to the great New York Yankees, have turned into the Houston Astros, or the Florida Marlins? Red Sox fans pay the highest ticket prices in MLB, and Lucchino is comforted that the pressure is off and the Bosox can tread water at a mediocre level?  Red Sox fans expect the team to compete with the iron of the American League, not be a developing mid-level squad struggling to be .500.

The marketing slogan, no doubt a subject near and dear to chief spin doctor's heart, is "What's broken can be fixed."

"It's a marketing slogan, but I think this one has the added virtue of being true and transparent that we know that the last year and the final month of the preceding year were the beginning of a very downward trend for this franchise -- a historic collapse, a disastrous 2012," Lucchino said. "That it was no secret that things needed to be repaired, reset, rebuilt, reloaded, whatever words you want to use, and acknowledging it was probably an honest way to start the season."

The fact that the front office has chosen to market the collapse of 2011 and the suckage of 2012 in their marketing for 2013 is disconcerting to be sure. A better way to go may have been "starting anew" or "fresh beginnings", anything but reminding us that the Sox finished last in 2012.

"We are in it to win. We have spent our money. We are concerned about generating revenue," Lucchino said. "We are not embarrassed or apologetic for that, but the revenue goes into the ballclub. It goes into the payroll. It goes into the amateur signing bonuses. It goes into the machinery of the club. It doesn't go out into private bank accounts."

"We're not the largest market in baseball. As a television market, we're, like, 22nd in terms of all TV homes. But we overproduce, generate revenue beyond that television market size and use that money to go into the franchise.

Hold up, hot shot. The Boston market is the number seven market in the US. So, this means ol' Larry's lips are moving and he's up to his old tricks, spinning the facts to make the team look good. Zero credibility.

Lucchino appeared on Dennis and Callahan earlier this week, where he discussed the Terry Francona book. He's maintained he hasn't read it. Yet he's got plenty of points to discuss about a book he hasn't read.

“I’ll give you an example: One of the themes of the book, I’m told, is that we care more about money than winning, we are more about marketing and ratings and money and the profits that will be generated from baseball than the winning. I think that’s silly. I think it’s wrong. Look at our track record. We’ve had the second- or third-highest payroll in baseball for years. We’ve won more games over our first decade than any team in baseball except the Yankees. Our payroll’s been higher than any team in baseball except the Yankees. We’ve reinvested not just into the ball team but into the ballpark, into scouting, player development. It seems to me that the body of work demonstrates that — and we have not taken one penny of profit distribution out of this club. Everything we’ve generated from these activities has been reinvested in the team, in the payroll, in the scouting, player development, amateur signings, foreign signings. We have taken the revenue that we have generated and put it back in this team, for the success of the team, the preservation of the ballpark. And I think that speaks for itself. I don’t need to be out there saying, ‘My goodness, we care more about winning than money.’ It should be self-evident. It should be clear from our track record.”

Charging fans to be members of Red Sox Nation. Bricks. The continued pandering to pink hats to separate them from their money. Astronomical ticket prices. A fixation on spin and damage control in order to preserve the brand. Wait, there's more.

“There’s one other misconception in the book that I do know about that I would like to mention. And that is this erroneous notion that somehow we — John, Tom, myself, somebody in the ownership group — [were] responsible for slamming Tito on the way out by disclosing private, negative information about him. That just didn’t happen,” Lucchino said. “We’ve said it over and over. The reporter who wrote it acknowledged that to us. Terry Francona has said it. It’s a scurrilous kind of gossip that shouldn’t be credited. And I’m glad I have a chance to I hope put it to bed. … It just is not true.” Lucchino said.

Thought you didn't read it, Larry.

It's simple, this guy is a slick talking lawyer who believes he can tell the fan base what to think, and we'll lap up everything he says like he's Bill Belichick or something. (kidding, kind of) He's the face of the Red Sox, and in the words of John Henry, Lucchino runs the Red Sox. If the folks down on Yawkey Way are serious about creating a new image for the Bosyton Red Sox, the answer is clear. Lucchino must go.


  1. Impressive writing. The whole site/blog too.

    - Pewsterbaby a.k.a. N.Y.C. Exploitation Writer a.k.a. Brooklyn Matt


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