​Francona Rips Red Sox Owners For Choosing Image Over Baseball

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January 16, 2013
Also: Boston Red Sox, Francona Rips Red Sox, Francona: The Red Sox Years, Rips, Terry Francona

Terry Francona, the former manager of the Boston Red Sox, rips team owners for focusing too much on image and not enough on playing baseball, according to new book scheduled for publication on January 22.

One of the pages from the book explains how Theo Epstein traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed Carl Crawford following pressure from Boston Red Sox owners to build a “sexy team.”

It appears that merchandise and ticket sales would carry a lot of weight and importance with the team.

Epstein, who left as general manager after the 2011 season to become a Chicago Cubs executive, said Boston owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino made the team’s image a priority, which included merchandise and ticket sales to carry much of the weight and importance of the team.

The book is called “Francona: The Red Sox Years” and is co-written by the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy and is scheduled for publication by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

“They told us we didn’t have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle,” Epstein is quoted as saying. “We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We’d become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be.”

On Nov. 2, 2010, a group gathered at Fenway Park to review results of that $100,000 marketing research project the Red Sox had commissioned following declining ratings of NESN, the regional sports network partly owned by the team. The books stated the marketing report said: “(W)omen are definitely more drawn to the ‘soap opera’ and ‘reality-TV’ aspects of the game … They are interested in good-looking stars and sex symbols” — a reference to All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Gonzalez and Crawford were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer along with Josh Beckett after the Red Sox fell out of contention.

Francona left after the 2011 season, when the Red Sox lost 20 of their last 27 games, becoming the first team to lead by nine games in September and not make the postseason. He worked for ESPN in 2012. Cleveland hired him in October as its manager.

Francona said owners refused to let the Red Sox play day games on final days of homestands because of television.