These are the stories that irk me to no end. While speaking to the media this morning in Fort Myers, FL, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry revealed that he was fined $500,000 in November of 2009 for comments he made to the Boston Globe about MLB’s revenue sharing system. Henry said he believed the system was flawed and it needed to be changed to a system that promotes reduction of operating budgets for uncompetitive teams. Apparently, the MLB believes that an honest owner is a threat to the league and deserves to be fined…are you kidding me?
Change is needed and that is reflected by the fact that over a billion dollars have been paid to seven chronically uncompetitive teams, five of whom have had baseball’s highest operating profits. Who, except these teams, can think this is a good idea? While the Red Sox are in the 16th largest media market we’ve found a way to be very competitive even though we are funding other teams. At the end of the day, the small market clubs still cannot begin to compete with the Yankees and have a very hard time competing with the teams that are struggling to pay them so much. Consequently, a system that directly impacts competition has to replace the current system, that hoped to, but ultimately did not cure competitive imbalances. – John Henry in 2009
Henry was making a legitimate point. He wasn’t directly insulting any particular person or team, nor was he threatening or demanding anything. Last time I checked, America has this little thing called free speech. It becomes a different story if Henry were to attack a person or the league in a vicious or unproductive way, but to point out a flaw in a system in an effort to promote change is extremely healthy for the MLB. As a matter of fact, without owners and fans speaking out against certain rules or policies, nothing would ever change.
Recently, Hank Steinbrenner ranted about the same topic, making a similar point that Henry made in 2009. Whether you love or hate Steinbrenner, he doesn’t deserve to be fined any more than Henry did. There is no word on whether he was issued a fine for his statement, but if he is, it is a disgrace, just as Henry’s fine was in 2009. Bud Selig needs to take a good look at the league and take owner’s comments into consideration when reviewing the rules and regulations every season, not spend all of his time finding ways to fine owners for telling the truth.
Well, Bud, if you were looking for owner silence, you’re getting closer. Henry now refuses to speak about revenue sharing because he doesn’t want to be fined again. You have successfully taken away his right to speak honestly and openly about the league. Mission accomplished. Change in baseball is now becoming less and less likely thanks to you.