Red Sox Confidential

By Doug Bailey | Boston Magazine |

It’s also expensive, from buying the club to fielding a team that can compete with the Yankees. So it’s understandable that marketing the Sox and finding new revenue streams consumed Lucchino and his business-side minions in the early years. I remember seeing a high-definition telecast of a Sox game for the first time on NESN and remarking to a marketing executive that the picture was so clear you could make out individual blades of grass on the field. “Yup,” the exec responded, smiling broadly, “and we can put a corporate logo on every one.”

The grass was always a big deal with the press. I once got a call from a Globe reporter who wanted to do a lawn and garden feature and needed some secrets from groundskeeper Dave Mellor on how he keeps Fenway’s grass looking so green. The reporter happened to catch me as I was meeting with team executives in a suite overlooking the park one day in early April. I could see Mellor and his crew on the field — currently brown like spring grass everywhere in New England — working to ready Fenway for Opening Day. Someone was spraying a liquid, transforming the dingy grass into a healthy-looking green. Paint, I thought to myself. That’s the secret.

SOME OF THE EARLY FUN and thrilling discovery from that first year came to a screeching halt with the sudden and disastrous end to the 2003 season, when the Sox lost yet again to the Yankees in agonizing fashion. After that, 4 Yawkey Way — the team’s corporate offices — became more serious, and Rasky Baerlein’s role in working with the club grew more solidified.

Each day, I took part in a “media” meeting in Lucchino’s office. We’d review the morning’s news coverage and plan press strategies. I looked forward to these meetings and enjoyed the back-and-forth with Lucchino and his team. I found Lucchino nothing like his reputation as a hard-edged, demanding, volatile taskmaster. That’s certainly been the picture painted of him lately, with many observers speculating that he drove Theo Epstein from the club. Lucchino did sometimes come across as tough, but for the most part he would invite criticism (he once whacked me with a rolled-up newspaper when, after he asked for a constructive critique on how he’d done with a speech, I sucked up and complimented him), seek input, and gather all available information before making decisions. He could be impatient and railed against the slowness of progress or the inability to complete certain tasks on time. But it didn’t appear to me that people were afraid to speak their minds. No one cowered in his presence.

Actually, I saw evidence of an outsize temper only twice. The first time was when we were driving to an appointment with Mayor Menino and Lucchino was certain I had taken a wrong turn and he was going to arrive late (I hadn’t and he didn’t). The second time was in August 2005, just after the Sox had backed out of a trade with the Colorado Rockies, a move that made the club look bad to many observers. My understanding was that it was Epstein himself who’d wanted to back out of the deal, but that he and Lucchino had cooked up a face-saving cover story that involved upper management supposedly overruling the trade. Soon after, I was in Lucchino’s suite overlooking the park during a rare weekday afternoon game, watching Epstein being interviewed on TV about the deal. Epstein put the blame for its collapse squarely on Lucchino’s shoulders, which sent the CEO into red-faced paroxysms. Lucchino apparently wasn’t expecting to be so directly and completely thrown under the bus. The issue would soon rise again, just after the season ended, and become the centerpiece of Epstein’s decision to abruptly quit the team on Halloween of 2005 (the famous gorilla-suit escape). When Epstein agreed to come back three months later, one of his conditions was that Lucchino’s daily media meetings be shut down. Epstein had always had a standing invitation to attend those meetings but never came, apparently believing we were spending our time devising ways to bolster Lucchino’s image and undercut his. Clearly, factions were forming on Yawkey Way, roughly around one group that felt Lucchino had amassed too much power and was butting into everything, particularly baseball operations, and another that believed Epstein was more lucky than talented and owed his entire baseball existence to Lucchino. The conflict led to some tense moments and intensified the club’s already ingrained obsession with unauthorized leaks to the press.

  • mark

    It’s not often that you get to write your own epitaph. Congratulations, Doug, you’ve done it.

    Now, about your other soon-to-be former clients…

  • Lee

    What’s with the jarring edit after the Henry playmate sentence. Looks like an entire paragraph or more was left out.

  • nadiam

    Wow. You must be massive.

  • holden

    reading this was like witnessing a slow death

  • bob

    I’m not a Sox fan – came to this article from Deadspin link – so no ax to grind. However, I’m curious as to why this clown would think that anyone would believe any of what he writes when he essentially admits that his entire job is to spin (aka, lie!). What an awful guy.

  • Bobby

    I am highly skeptical of this story. I don’t believe any of it.

  • Ewillr

    As a transplanted Massachusettsian, I was enthralled reading this piece. I wonder why there was not more focus on the baseball, especially 2004 and 2007. You tip-toe towards that when you wonder which RS player may be taking steriods – more of that would have been better. But, I miss the Red Sox and this has satiated my need for a baseball fix. Thanks

  • Bo

    Pretty Lame. “Tells all” certainly doesn’t mean what it used to. You get more on Twitter.

  • Ryan

    Doug, you come off as incredibly pompous and self-serving in this article. Absolutely nobody cares that the dirt they gave away wasn’t actually from the field. Or that the grass is painted. Or that John Henry may or may not have dated/partied with a playmate. This is a self-serving article that will only self-serve you in preventing you from gaining employment. You may have thrown your PR career away to reveal close to nothing. No one read this article and came away thinking anything different of the Red Sox.
    In summation, you’re awful.

  • Mark

    Did I just read an article, or was I sitting at a bar listening to some drunk guy brag about how he is supposedly the “guy-behind-the-guy” and was once somebody? A weird, rambling, disjointed musing that lacks a lot of things including purpose, audience, and the line “I tied an onion to my belt because it was the style at the time.”

  • Chris

    This was quite the tell-all haha. Sounds like this guys is actually still working for Larry! Besides trying to make himself look like he made the redsox who they are, I really don’t see the point to this article.

  • S

    No ax to grind. Actually, think it’s pretty cool.

  • doug

    Doug Bailey initials = D.B. = Douche Bag

  • fred

    That was the Diet Coke of juicy sports tell-all stories. Just one calorie, not much juice!