Larry Lucchino on D&C: Terry Francona’s perceptions ‘mischaracterized’ by Dan Shaughnessy
|02.13.13 at 11:17 am ET|
Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning, and much of the conversation centered on Terry Francona‘s book that paints Lucchino in an unflattering light.
Lucchino said he decided not to read the book — at least for now — and minimize his comments about it. Told that it doesn’t seem to be his nature to avoid addressing an issue like this, Lucchino responded: “Sometimes my nature doesn’t always lead me to the right place. But I think in this case it makes perfect sense.
“I certainly have heard a little bit about the book, so I know some of its themes. If I did read it, I would probably find that it’s even more disappointing than I’ve heard, that it’s highly selective. It’s history as translated and written by Dan Shaughnessy, so it gives a certain Shaughnessy twist to it — I think many of us know what that can mean.
“It seems that if I did read it, the probabilities of my making some intemperate remark or getting involved in some collateral discussion of it would prevent me from doing my job right now. I’ve got a full plate of things. The 2013 season is a demanding one and has been. The offseason’s been demanding and there’s a lot for us to do. I just don’t need — and I don’t think the franchise needs — a debate of what’s right and what’s wrong. As I said, it’s highly selective.”
Added Lucchino: “I’m not a bully. I don’t think I behave that way. You can talk to lots of people who will I think give you a slightly different impression.”
Lucchino acknowledged he was disappointed that some discussions he believed were private were referenced in the book, but he expressed a bigger concern with how Shaughnessy “mischaracterized” Francona’s perceptions.
“Certainly a lot of the things we talked about we did not anticipate would be the subject or be material for a book afterwards. That’s a little troubling,” Lucchino said. “But I have fond feelings for Tito. I have good memories about what happened. I understand that he left feeling a certain way about the organization and about us. But I believe he has said a whole number of positive things since then. And I just prefer not to get into a kind of discussion about how Dan Shaughnessy translated a lot of these things and characterized them — or in my view, mischaracterized them.
“I’ll give you an example: One of the themes of the book, I’m told, is that we care more about money than winning, we are more about marketing and ratings and money and the profits that will be generated from baseball than the winning. I think that’s silly. I think it’s wrong. Look at our track record. We’ve had the second- or third-highest payroll in baseball for years. We’ve won more games over our first decade than any team in baseball except the Yankees. Our payroll’s been higher than any team in baseball except the Yankees. We’ve reinvested not just into the ball team but into the ballpark, into scouting, player development. It seems to me that the body of work demonstrates that — and we have not taken one penny of profit distribution out of this club. Everything we’ve generated from these activities has been reinvested in the team, in the payroll, in the scouting, player development, amateur signings, foreign signings. We have taken the revenue that we have generated and put it back in this team, for the success of the team, the preservation of the ballpark. And I think that speaks for itself. I don’t need to be out there saying, ‘My goodness, we care more about winning than money.’ It should be self-evident. It should be clear from our track record.”
Lucchino scoffed at the implication that he and the other Sox owners — John Henry and Tom Werner — do not “love” the game.
“One can be a little defensive when that kind of silliness is thrown about,” Lucchino said. “I’ve been in baseball for other 30 years. I walked away from a legal profession. And I’ve played the game my whole life. Here I am being defensive. I don’t want to do that. Listen, my career is what it is. And my love for the game is what it is. I’m not going to try to explain it to anyone. That’s another impression that comes from the book that’s a little misleading.”
Lucchino also took the opportunity to again deny that he and the other owners had anything to do with the Boston Globe story that embarrassed Francona after the 2011 season.
“There’s one other misconception in the book that I do know about that I would like to mention. And that is this erroneous notion that somehow we — John, Tom, myself, somebody in the ownership group — [were] responsible for slamming Tito on the way out by disclosing private, negative information about him. That just didn’t happen,” Lucchino said. “We’ve said it over and over. The reporter who wrote it acknowledged that to us. Terry Francona has said it. It’s a scurrilous kind of gossip that shouldn’t be credited. And I’m glad I have a chance to I hope put it to bed. … It just is not true.”
Added Lucchino: “[Francona] doesn’t believe it was us. He personally has said that since the book has come out. As I said, oftentimes things get translated by Dan Shaughnessy. And we all know Dan is a distinctive kind of negative, wise-guy style. He’s not likely to win any prizes for American history. … I’ll take what Tito’s said recently as a better measurement of how he feels.”
On the Red Sox being predicted to finish at or near the bottom of the AL East: “I’m OK with that. My sense is that the expectations, or the prognosticators or the pundits, whatever, they are more often wrong than right. It’s a very complicated game, very difficult to project success. I can only point back to the last couple of years and the kind of success they predicted for us in 2011 and the catastrophe that it ended up being. So, I take it with a grain of salt. I kind of prefer being the underdog, being the scrappy, hard-charging team that people don’t expect much from. I think that’s maybe a bit of a competitive advantage. If we fall into that category, so be it. I just don’t think that these preseason guesses are likely to mean very much.”
On David Ortiz being slowed by a heel injury: “I’m encouraged that he kept up with his rehab over the offseason. He’s had some agility drills that he’s demonstrated to our medical team, the current condition. And as long as he’s ready to go when the bell goes off on Opening Day, that’s good enough for me.”
On the team’s strategy regarding free agents, and in particular a player such as Josh Hamilton: “When it comes to Hamilton and any sort of large-ticket free agent, we have shifted our focus a bit, to be sure. We’ve been obvious about that, and I think I’ve spoken publicly about that. We are highly skeptical of long-term deals. I think the body of evidence in baseball over many, many years demonstrates the inefficiency of those things, and the ineffectiveness of those kind of contracts. So, we will be careful. But we will never exclude the possibility of some exceptions to the rule. I think we have to keep all avenues open. There was discussion about Hamilton. But when it became clear that it was likely to be a five-, six-, seven-year contract, we thought there was a better way to redeploy the money we had saved from similar long-term contracts.”
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