Larry Lucchino was in full spin cycle last week at the Valentine’s Day Massacre wake. He was eager to “reset” and not interested in discussing the disaster of 2012, which he—more than anyone—created.
Not so fast, Larry.
“We’re not going to get into this issue or that issue, this grievance or that grievance. We don’t necessarily feel that’s necessary or appropriate to do any of that. As Ben said, we pressed a reset button… We’re not going to go into that dissection of the year. “
Not so fast Larry; before you hit that “RESET” button, we ARE going to dissect your performance, since you were the prime architect of the 2012 debacle.
Although the President/CEO put Cherington, his caddy, up to reciting Lucchino’s party line—WE share the responsibility—to allow him to hide behind that alibi, let’s remember that:
- Cherington reports to Lucchino and, while many media writers say that Ben is just a puppet on Larry’s right hand, we can say, for certain, that, like most of us, he must support his boss [publicly].
- Despite all the happy horseshit about group decisions and collaboration, Lucchino was proud to be known as the guy in the Front Office who was “running” the Red Sox. He appeared to relish his role as Cardinal Richelieu, whispering his Master Plan to King Luis XIII, played by John Henry.
- John Henry was a laissez-faire, hands-off owner. He liked the idea of being the benevolent patron of the Red Sox and the fans, but his personal inclinations ran to avoiding feelings and emotions, because they were unpredictable, messy, illogical, and could result in his nightmare: chaos.
Team owner John Henry, for the second consecutive year, did not make himself available to answer questions about firing a manager. He did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Although he may be growing a pair and emerging as an independent General Manager, who can be the “spearhead” [and not just the shaft], Cherington appeared to be under Lucchino’s thumb during the winter of 2011-12, when Valentine was hired and the team went bargain basement for veteran starters to fill the #1 and #2 slots in the rotation.
Once Larry Lucchino was told by owner John Henry that he could run the Red Sox, the CEO has increasingly inserted himself into all aspects of the operation; he has become a case study in the dangers of micro-managing, or meddling.
There appears to be a correlation between the increase in Larry’s micro-managing and the number of Red Sox losses. The more he meddles, the worse things get.
How did Mr. Lucchino learn so much about baseball that he can run a team all by himself?
“After law school, Lucchino practiced law with the Washington, D. C. law firm of Williams & Connolly. The founder, famed litigator Edward Bennett Williams, had ownership interest in both the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Orioles.
Lucchino’s law practice at Williams & Connolly included a substantial amount of work for those two sports teams. Through that work he ultimately became President/CEO of the Baltimore Orioles and later, the San Diego Padres, and the Boston Red Sox.
He was a lawyer who worked for a team in the NFL and MLB, where his boss has some ownership. In 1988 the Oriole’s management appointed him President/CEO of the team.
When the world’s greatest defense attorney owned the Orioles, it was the best run team in baseball. It won consistently and with dignity. It ran smoothly and did things “the Orioles Way,” which is to say the right way.
Lucchino didn’t run those Orioles. He held EBW’s coat, and wasn’t named president and CEO of the team until after Williams’ death.”
With the dismissal of Valentine this week, everyone in the Front Office, including Lucchino, recognized that Bobby was absolutely the wrong fit for the 2012 Red Sox; he was such a bad match for a modern MLB team that Lucchino was willing to pay Valentine off, giving him the $2.5 million for NOT managing the Red Sox anymore.
Yet, attempting to “move right along” at the “Sox Fire Valentine” press conference, Lucchino said:
“If you’re going to look at factors that contributed to the dismal season of the Boston Red Sox in 2012,
the nature of the managerial search in November of 2011 is pretty far down the list, if it’s even on the list at all,”
Not so fast, Larry. We can certainly understand why the way you tampered with the process resulted in the hiring of Valentine is “is pretty far down the list if it’s even on the list at all,”—but, it IS near the top of most media commentators’ and Red Sox fans’ lists.
To downplay his role in ramming Valentine into the job, Lucchino had the nerve to point the finger at his boss, John Henry: Lucchino said that, although Valentine was a friend of his, he is a closer friend to John Henry.
Spreading the blame: “We thought the decision was a sensible, rational one last year and that what we were looking for at the time seemed to be what Bobby Valentine presented,” Lucchino said.
“That’s why in the end it is important to build consensus in the choice,” he said. “That’s what we tried to do last year and that’s what we’ll try to do again.” Lucchino’s concept of “consensus” goes like this:
- I decide what’s right for the Red Sox.
- I convince John Henry that I am right, since I am “running “the team.
- I tell Cherington to implement my plan, which the owner has approved.
- If things work out, I take the credit; if not, I can spread the blame.
Perhaps Mr. Lucchino learned one thing from the aborted manager search: do not attempt to shoe-horn your candidate into the job.
“The search will have the same structure as it had last year. Ben will be spearheading it. This will be Ben’s second search instead of his first search. I don’t necessarily think it’s going to be that different. It will be headed by Ben and the baseball operations people, but there will be collaboration with the owner, the chairman and the CEO on any final decision.”
Notice that Larry is attempting to say that Ben was the guy who spearheaded the hiring of Valentine? Also, notice that he is making sure that Ben will be the fall guy, if the next manager fails?
The structure is irrelevant; what is important is that Larry let his subordinate Ben and his baseball operations staff run the search without his interference. Once the candidates have been narrowed by the GM and his staff, it will then be appropriate for the Owner, Principle Partner, and their employee President/CEO to interview the pool of finalists selected by Cherington.
While the stake holders, Henry and Lerner and their employee, Lucchino certainly have a role in the process, since the manager will report directly to the GM, unless the suits have a very compelling reason to reject a candidate, they should allow Ben to hire a manager that he can support, this time.
Unfortunately, somebody in the Red Sox organization [likely the one with the biggest ego and biggest mouth] has tipped off the media that the team “really” wants to hire former pitching coach, John Farrell, to manage the team.
This puts Toronto at an advantage that allows them to think that they can extort a player [or prospect] for the rights to bargain with their current manager. [Wonder if they would take a Minor league journeyman Carpenter?]
BEN: Toronto wants to replace Farrell with Sandy Alomar; give them nothing. Proceed with your interview process and wait them out. Based on his managerial track record, is he really the “must have” guy out there?
LARRY: You barged into the hiring process last time and forced your GM to hire a manager that he did not want and Cherington stood back and let him fall. Your ego is that super-sized gorilla in your mind; focus on learning to tell it to stay away from the Fenway Zoo.
JOHN: Buy one of Larry’s promotional “bricks” with Valentine’s name on it and shove it in Lucchino’s mouth, sideways, and tell him you are running the Red Sox and remind him that he is your employee.
Or else, your inability to run the Red Sox like professionals will ruin this venerable franchise.