Red Sox executive vice president and chief operating officer Sam Kennedy, in an interview on WEEI’s Red Sox Hot Stove Show, disputed the suggestion found in published excerpts from former Sox manager Terry Francona‘s that the franchise’s baseball decisions started to be shaped by marketing concerns. Instead, Kennedy stated that the Sox’ mission is defined by the team’s on-field success, with marketing (and concerns such as NESN’s broadcasting success) serving that goal, rather than vice-verse.
“Great sports organizations, great ownership groups like ours, have one goal, and that is to win baseball games. We’ve been here for 11 years together. Our group’s won two world championships, we’ve had six postseason appearances, we’ve won over 1,000 baseball games,” said Kennedy. “The business side, the baseball side and the community outreach side all need to work together to achieve that common goal of winning games.
“To be clear, the way that I view the world, I can speak for myself, is that we on the business side are here to support and provide the necessary resources to the baseball operations group to do everything in their power to field a team that does one thing, and that is win. Winning baseball games is and always has been the central mission of the Boston Red Sox since we’ve been here, and I think that John Henry and Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino have demonstrated an incredible track record of doing that. I know that I’m really proud to be a part of the organization. I know that [former GM Theo Epstein] was proud to be part of this organization, as was Tito. I certainly wish them both well.”
Asked if he’s seen a change in the team’s operating philosophy in recent years, Kennedy suggested he had not. He said that the biggest change in the organization has been its performance on the field rather than what is transpiring inside the team’s offices.
“I haven’t [seen a change in operating philosophy]. What I have noticed is a change in our winning percentage,” said Kennedy. “I think that tends to cause different folks to criticize organizations more regularly. I fully understand that and I fully respect that.
“Our job, we are here and we are paid to do one thing, and that’s to win baseball games. We know that. We take that responsibility very seriously. I grew up a sports fan, a passionate Red Sox fan. There’s nothing more important to me than to win baseball games. I think over the past several years, given that we’ve fallen short of our sort of organizational goal or mandate — which is to play baseball in October, put yourself in the postseason, give yourself a chance to win the World Series, we’ve fallen short of that, so we have been understandably criticized for a lot over the last several years. That’s on us to fix it and to recognize that we have not performed up to the very high expectations that exist in this marketplace. I assure you that John and Tom have given Larry and me and [Sox GM] Ben Cherington and our entire organization the resources to fix that and to get us back to where we belong, which is on top of the baseball world. I really believe that we have the know-how, the work ethic, the passion, the dedication to get it done. But those are just words. It doesn’t mean that much coming from me right now, other than I’ve been here for 12 years. .. We’ve tasted the champagne. We want to get back there. That’s why we’re all here.”
To listen to the complete interview, click here. Additional highlights are below:
On whether the team dismissed uniform personnel requests for more day games due to marketing and TV ratings concerns (a suggestion in the excerpt of Francona’s book): “I think it’s a little bit of an unfair characterization. We sit down with, we sat down with Theo Epstein when he was here and with Ben now, and we try and work out a schedule that works well for the baseball operation. It’s always a difficult thing scheduling, particularly here in New England with weather issues, it’s probably the most difficult thing we have to do. We would love to have more day games for kids and for families. In fact, we made it a priority to add more day games over the last several years, but there are certain logistical issues and rules with each and every date you try to schedule on.
“Do we factor in the chance for the most fans possible to see a game either in person or on television? Yes, we do. You have to take into consideration the broadcast implications and impact on a home game, which is under our control, when you’re putting together the schedule. But it’s unfair to characterize the fact that we never took any input or direction from baseball [operations]. I’m not being critical because I haven’t seen the quotes, but I know how it works in reality.”
On the team’s approach to profits: “This [ownership] group, little known fact, they probably don’t talk about it but I will, they’ve not taken one dollar – not one dollar – of profit from this enterprise. All the revenues that we’ve generated are reinvested back into the club – back into player payroll, back into renovating Fenway Park, back into the operation of the team. That’s something we’re very proud of. This group has made an incredible commitment to the fans and to the front office. It’s something that we’re very proud of. I’d ask for our fan base to keep the faith here this offseason.”
On whether the team will be more difficult to market coming off the 2012 season than the 2011 season: “The last several years have been difficult, but I think that this year, from a business perspective, will be tougher than last year, just because we had such a disappointing season on the field. Although who knows? If we get off to a decent start, we might be okay. I do think our fans will see the commitment and hopefully get behind us, but we need to let our actions speak louder than our words.”
On the sellout streak at Fenway Park, which dates to May 15, 2003: “We’re really not. But I do think that the sellout streak – I know it will end – at some point. I don’t know when. It may be this April, it may be this May, it may not. We’ll have to see. That’s up to the fans.
“We’ve said this repeatedly – it’s a streak that our fans have set. No one in sports has ever seen the type of support that the Boston Red Sox have seen during this incredible, incredible decade of the Henry/Werner/Lucchino administration. It’s humbling. Hopefully, the fan support will continue, but to be pragmatic and realistic about it, this season, it’s going to be difficult. Our fans are sort of in a wait-and-see mode. Some people are angry. Some people are upset. I don’t blame them. We understand that. We need to do a better job. We need to win baseball games this season and do it consistently. We’ll see what happens with the sellout streak, but it’s not something that keeps us up at night despite some popular opinions.”
On how sellouts are defined, and who defines the sellouts: “It’s defined when you have more tickets distributed – paid and complimentary tickets – exceed your seating capacity. That’s the definition. It’s not defined by Major League Baseball. It’s defined by individual clubs. Most baseball clubs and most other sports teams use that definition, and it’s something that the Red Sox have used for decades here at Fenway Park.”
Shortly after the NFLRA released its statement demanding an apology from ESPN, Jim Quirk, the NFLRA's Executive Director, joined Mut to talk about the statement
WEEI's Chris Price joins Mut to talk about his experience of being in yesterday's Patriots championship parade, and which New England free agents could return to play for the Pats next season.
Super Bowl champ Vince Wilfork joins the show to talk about his feelings about winning the Super Bowl and what his future holds.
Flannery joins Mut to break down the Isaiah Thomas trade to Boston and what it means for the Celtics this season and in the future. Paul also chats with Mut about the other deals that happened at the NBA's trading deadline
We talk to Chris Mannix from SI to break down the C's acquisition of Isaiah Thomas and the crazy trade deadline in the rest of the NBA.
Jessica Camerato of basketballinsiders.com joins the show to talk about Marcus Smart, the starting lineup, and trade deadline.
David Ortiz takes a few minutes to talk with Mut, Bradford, and Tomase about some of his new teammates, who Pablo Sandoval reminds him of, and the rules aimed at speeding up the game of baseball.
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are talking Red Sox spring training. and talk with Red Sox DH David Ortiz about the rules aimed at speeding up the pace of the game
Catcher Blake Swihart, one of the Red Sox top-rated prospects, sits down with Lou to talk about Spring Training and his expectations for the upcoming season
DJ Bean joins Middays with MFB to talk everything going on with the struggling Bruins
Pierre McGuire of the NBC Sports Network joins the show to talk about the Bruins' continued struggles, and what the team needs to do to improve moving forward
Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton talk with the great Jack Edwards of NESN fame to get his insight on the struggling Bruins as the chances to salvage this season continue to dwindle.
Mookie sat in with Dino, Gerry and Kirk to discuss the upcoming season and his preparation for playing in the outfield. Mookie also details one of his favorite hobbies, bowling.
All the latest stories brought to you by Kirk Minihane.
The guys kick off a free form Friday by looking at the competition in the outfield and a possible peace with Pete Abe.
On this weeks Aloha Friday, Tim apologizes to our producer Tom for not knowing who Leonard Nimoy was, Christian bashes Kanye West, and Joey makes amends for mistaking camel noises for llama noises
DJ Bean joins Middays with MFB to talk everything going on with the struggling Bruins
On this week's Fauria Five, Christian asks what the over/under on how many times Ortiz will be fined for stepping out of the batter's box this season, will the Bruins make the playoffs, will the Patriots use the franchise tag on Devin McCourty, where does Adrian Peterson play next year, and what color was the dress that went viral yesterday
We discuss the good week that was for the prosecution in the Aaron Hernancez murder trial with attorney and professor of law Michael McCann.
Dale and Michael discuss the plight of the Bruins as the trade deadline looms.
Dale and Michael go back and forth on the circumstances around Vandy coach Kevin Stallings verbally berating a player on national TV, and using harsh language like "I'll kill you"
Mikey, Mut, and Lenny are joined by the Rev girls, who are revealing the New Revolution uniform Tuesday at the House of Blues in Boston and talking about the Revs.
Mikey, Lenny, and Maggie talk Red Sox baseball with Red Sox Hall of Famer Bill Lee, who is in Florida and out of the snow that's perpetually burying the area.
Mikey gets a call from Kirk Minihane, who wants to clear the air with Mikey and get everything settled. It goes better than you think.
Boston University coach David Quinn joins WEEI’s Scott McLaughlin to discuss the Terriers’ Beanpot title and how he feels about his team as the postseason approaches. Quinn also discusses reports about NHL interest in goalie Matt O’Connor and briefly touches on a recent misstep by Jack Eichel.
After a wild trade deadline, Ben Kichen and Sam Packard breakdown the Celtics and the rest of the NBA. Then Sam yells at Ben about the use of analytics in basketball. Ben yells back.
Chris and Nate from Barstool Sports review the events of Fast Lane and Raw while discussing the potential card at Wrestlemania.
Big John can't take it anymore, JUST TALK ABOUT SPORTS!!!More from this show
Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton listen in as David Ortiz goes off to the media about the pace of game rule changes being put in place this year in Major League Baseball. They listen to David, discuss it among themselves, and talk with YOU.More from this show
Mookie sat in with Dino, Gerry and Kirk to discuss the upcoming season and his preparation for playing in the outfield. Mookie also details one of his favorite hobbies, bowling.More from this show
All the latest headlines brought to you by Kirk Minihane.More from this show
Bogaerts sat down with Dino, Gerry and Kirk to talk about the upcoming season. He revealed that he lost his confidence last season after a tough start and is looking forward to settling into shortstop in the future.More from this show