The Strange Dealings of Globe & Red Sox Owner John Henry.

2009 11 15_3933The owner of the Red Sox also is the owner of the Boston Globe. You’re probably saying to yourself so what. It’s really no big deal that the Globe’s sports department will always paint the Red Sox a rosy red, after all it is only a game, so whether it tells the story from a Red Sox perspective rather than a neutral view no one really cares because, as homers, we’re glad it is cheering for the team the same way as the rest of us even if to do so it has to distort the news to keep in the good graces of the owner.

Lately it seems that there’s more to the dual ownership than just telling us stories about the players and the outcome of the games on the field. It is that the Red Sox are more than just the team we all want to win; it’s really a business for its owner. He is using the team to make money for himself but also doing it in a less than salubrious way.

He’s doing the same thing with the Boston Globe. He has installed a new CEO,  a guy named Michael Sheehan. Mike tells us flat out that the Globe is in business to make money, or as he said about the owner: “He’s all business.

John Henry, a great America name making one think of Patrick Henry, is the owner I refer to. He not only owns the Globe and Red Sox but also the English Premier team the Liverpool Football Club which finished second last year in its league and the Roush Fenway Racing Group which races in the NASCAR circuit. This is all part of the Fenway Sports Group  which also owns 80% of NESN.

Looking at the assets owned by John Henry he’s done a clever thing. He owns the sports teams and the main media entities that cover them. He insures himself control over the news that will come out about his teams. He may not directly interfere with it but everyone knows what the boss owns and there is the desire in most to please the boss. Nothing wrong with that as long as the public, by that I mean the sports fan, is willing to pay for the entertainment that John Henry provides and the newspaper he produces.

However, there is something wrong when a person like Henry who is making mega dollars is allegedly involved in a no-bid deal that is rushed through a Boston city agency, the Boston Redevelopment Agency (BRA), just prior to the end of a mayor’s administration that has the City of Boston surrendering to him city property in perpetuity at a price that seems grossly below market rate.

It’s fine for Henry to make as much money as he can. But when he allegedly uses his ownership of the icon upon which the Red Sox Nation worships to extract an unfair deal from the people of Boston one has to step back and wonder what the man is all about. Does he have any loyalty to Boston or is he just using it as a vehicle to enrich himself?

Reports have come out that allege he may be indifferent to the citizens of Boston but mainly concerned only about what is best for him. The BRA despite being asked by the State’s Inspector General to hold off on a vote to give away public property around Fenway Park rushed through a sweetheart deal for John Henry. Now one would hope a man interested in the City of Boston would not be interested in such a deal. You’d hope he would want everything to be above the board and done in an orderly manner and not squeeze every last nickel from the city’s taxpayers. But that seems not to be the case when it comes to being all about business.

Now this is something the Boston Globe would normally be all over: a no bid contract thrust upon the people without notice or a right to be heard surrendering the rights of ownership to city property to a private enterprise in the waning days of a mayor’s term. Yet it ignored it for the most part. All that came from Morrissey Boulevard where the Globe resides was the sound of silence.

Obviously, one can serve only one master. When it comes to deciding between the public weal and its boss, the Globe quickly knew on what side its bread was buttered. It served us poorly in this matter.

John Henry is a rich man. The silence of the Globe shows that it will let him wheel and deal freely. In one way his Globe has become a mouth piece for the Red Sox nation allowing Henry to conduct his business dealings with impunity.

I understand the Globe people holding their tongues to hold onto their jobs. I understand that the goal of rich people like Henry is to get richer. What escapes me is how that greed makes one willing to tarnish one’s reputation by engaging in transactions that leave a sour taste in people’s mouths. Even though the Globe was muzzled, the news about the deal got out.

Why did Henry want go along with a tricky procedure that left many to question it? Was he indifferent as to how he’d be viewed by the citizens of Boston? Or did Henry think he could keep it quiet forever with his control of the Globe?

This is a telling time for the Globe. It has shown it has lost its liberty to criticize its boss. Will the hard hand of John Henry bring it to its death or should the Globe demand, as Patrick Henry did, that John Henry give it liberty or give it death (shut it down).


7 thoughts on “The Strange Dealings of Globe & Red Sox Owner John Henry.

  1. Contrary to popular notions John Henry not Ortiz bats in the clean up position. He has taken the hometown team and turned it into goldmine.
    This latest bit of skullduggery shall have a prominent place in the Boston Hall of Shame. And we thought John Harrington and Buddy LeRoux were good a ripping off the taxpayer.
    The writing went up on the left field wall when they silenced the “peanuts a dime three for a quarter” huckster and John Henry took his place squeezing every penny out of the fan.
    A sucker is born every inning.
    The last occupant of the fifth floor in City Hall got the specially made Louisville Slugger and the Boston taxpayer got just the shaft.

    Indictments should be hit out of local courthouses with a fungo bat.
    The four BRA members that abetted this knavery should do the right thing and resign forthwith and the walk up and down Landsdowne and Jersey Streets resign draped in hairshirts.

    The legendary John Henry drove steel through rock to help built the country this John Henry drives a spike through the wallet of every working stiff that would like to take his family to the park in search of some long lost American values that once were found at the house of the hometown team.

    I wonder what Brudnoy would think of this plunder at the public trough?

    1. Hopaling:

      You know there had to be a quid pro quo for the deal Henry received. The last minute rush to get the deal through the BRA demands investigation. I’m sure with a little researched much could be found out. What did the BRA members get? But we can’t expect our local prosecution teams to look into the Red Sox. First of all the Globe would destroy them; secondly the Red Sox Nation would rise up.
      This applies equally to all the sports teams. Consider this, Aaron Hernandez who has been indicted for two murders in Boston would never had to have faced those charges if he didn’t go off and get himself indicted for another murder in Bristol County. The Boston cops just didn’t investigate the case. No use going after a popular tight end.

  2. The probation officers are on trial for an invented quid pro quo ( hiring friends of the legislature) whereas Henry engages in an obvious quid pro quo with Menino and it is ignored. Henry is enriched by this shady activity and the former Mayor gets fawning coverage. The taxpayers get the shaft. Your assessment is 100% correct. Shouldn’t Menino and Henry face an investigation? If Turner is indicted over one grand and Speaker Flaherty is prosecuted over a few free tickets why isn’t an arrangement involving millions subject to scrutiny? This is yet another example of the wholesale dishonesty on the part of the press. Is it also a message to Walsh to play ball or else? Could Walsh file suit to void the deal as a violation of the public notice requirements?

    1. NC:

      Absolutely right. But if there is anything that calls out for an investigation it is that transaction. Where are the federals in this case where I’m sure with a little digging, not much, that they could find some people gained a lot from the deal. But in your wildest dreams could you imagine the US attorney or state prosecutors investigating the Red Sox and Globe owner. Henry can act with impunity in Boston; he’s got his young wife using the Globe as a play thing.

      I’m not sure whether the BRA must do any public notice prior to its decisions; I’m not sure whether it is subject to the laws governing the need for public officials to do things in open but it seems that it should be. My sense of the BRA has always been that it does deals behind closed doors with the people who run it hiding in the dark. Walsh’s audit of it showed it has been absolutely corrupt. But don’t hold your breath expecting anyone to investigate our saintly Red Sox or John Henry; the Globe would murder them.

  3. Mr. C., a terrific post! Proving once again the value of your blog specifically , and the value of the responsible, in-depth blogosphere generally.

    Enjoying the warm, stiff breezes and overcast skies on the coast this week in your neck of the woods,


    1. GOK:

      Thanks. There’s an old saying that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. I just try to pry open the ongoing ball game among our media and officials just a speck so that a few will see not is all that it appears to be. I’d enjoy the weather more if I wasn’t nursing a sciatica problem – I used to think people who had that problem complained too much — no longer. I’m groaning all day long.

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