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Deep Thought: remember when Frank McCourt tried to buy the Red Sox?

Apr 21, 2011, 10:30 AM EDT


Frank McCourt’s turmoil has contributed to a state of affairs in which a team that should have a tremendous financial advantage over all of its competitors has basically punted that advantage. Given their attendance, market size and revenue — as cash cow regional sports network would make perfect sense for them — the Dodgers truly could be the Yankees or the Red Sox of the West if run properly. Now? Receivership.

And I’m reminded that McCourt could have been the actual owner of the Red Sox. He grew up a Red Sox fan. The basis of his recent fortune was South Boston waterfront property that once was thought to be the perfect home for a New Fenway Park. He was in the bidding to buy the Red Sox when they were sold to John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino. We’ve seen how fragile baseball ownership groups and their bids can be. It wouldn’t have taken much to throw that out of whack and have given the Red Sox to McCourt.

What happens if Frank McCourt takes over the Red Sox in 2002? Here’s a few ideas that spring to mind:

  • Given how quickly he dispatched Paul DePodesta in L.A., I’d guess he doesn’t hire a young, stat-savvy GM like Theo Epstein in Boston (and certainly not Epstein himself given that the basis for his hiring was his experience with Larry Luchino in San Diego).
  • Given McCourt’s demonstrated penchant for choosing leverage in the interests of short term cash flow as opposed to investment for longterm stability, you figure that he doesn’t create a beast like Fenway Sports Group to expand and enrich the team’s power and holdings.
  • Given his ownership of that waterfront property, he doesn’t invest in the renovation of Fenway Park, instead choosing to build a new ballpark. A new ballpark that could very well have taken years to build if it ever did get built, and in the meantime would mean that Fenway would fall into disrepair or something close to it. Best case scenario, the Red Sox are playing in a new retropark now and Fenway is rubble.

Maybe McCourt’s vision, such as it was, would have worked better in Boston than it did in L.A. Maybe the Red Sox would have still won two World Series on his watch and served as profound competitive threat to the Yankees, thereby causing them to increase their payroll as they did.  Maybe, with McCourt driving the bus in Boston, Red Sox Nation explodes in the way it did over the past decade and still helps create the Yankees-Red Sox hegemony with which we are familiar.

I just kinda doubt it.

  1. Panda Claus - Apr 21, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    If Frank owned the Red Sox they’d probably be in last place… wait, never mind. Yeah, I know, a cheap shot.

  2. Jonny 5 - Apr 21, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    He probably would have made Manny “happy” and he could have retired a Red Sox .

  3. kirkmack - Apr 21, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    Maybe he wouldn’t have had to spend so much money on the mentalist that sent happy thoughts so they might win? They could have just given the person season tickets, right?

    • dlevalley - Apr 21, 2011 at 11:11 AM

      No, he would have stilled hired the mentalist, He just would have been closer to the team, so his good vibes would have been more effective.

      • kirkmack - Apr 21, 2011 at 11:55 AM

        That was my point.

  4. yankeesfanlen - Apr 21, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Even as a member of the opposition, there is no doubt that the tension between the two teams would have been maintained, but possibly the suspense minimized, if the Red Sox were under McCourts control. The “hegemony” is not 10 years old, it’s 100.
    Here’s a story from Roger Kahn’s excellent “October Men” chronicling the 1978 Yankees:

    “After the [final game of the season] loss, Zimmer wept, and then driving home to Florida, suddenly pulled his car to the side of the Interstate. stepped outside and howling upward. “Bucky …Fuckin’… Dent?”.The skies, being heedless, made no reply.”

    The best teams need strong, dedicated owners.

  5. umrguy42 - Apr 21, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    I’d like to think that my Cardinals would have won the ’04 World Series :p

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