Red Sox Confidential

By Doug Bailey | Boston Magazine |

Along with the daily media meeting, I also attended a weekly gathering related to the renovation of the ballpark, as well as to real estate and neighborhood issues. You don’t tend to hear as much about these kinds of things as you do about where the Sox are in the standings, or who’s drinking beer in the clubhouse, but believe me, the team is sensitive to how its business dealings are portrayed in the press.

By early 2005, the new owners were ready to commit to staying in Fenway rather than building a new stadium. But the issue was complicated because the team felt the infrastructure around the park needed substantial — and expensive — improvements. It was a delicate topic, one that still reverberates, because the Sox ownership badly wanted to appear accommodating, wanted to showcase the hundreds of millions of its own money it would be putting into the renovations, while at the same time downplaying its desire for public contributions. They were well aware of the beating Robert Kraft had taken in the press when he tried to obtain taxpayer dollars for a new stadium for the Patriots. Just broaching the topic in the city, we knew, could set off a flurry of negative press and publicity for the Sox, even though the team had finally broken the curse and won the World Series. So how to proceed?

In 2000 — before the Henry/Werner group bought the team — the state legislature had approved spending more than $300 million on improvements around the park as part of the then-owner’s plan to build a new stadium. That plan fizzled, and with it the public funding, but now Henry, Werner, and Lucchino wanted to either revive the state’s financial incentives package or quietly win a new round of funding. The finesse with which this had to be accomplished could not be overstated. There were some around the table at these meetings who argued vociferously to simply tie the Fenway Park commitment to public funds. In other words: “We’ll only stay and renovate Fenway if we receive taxpayer assistance for infrastructure improvements.” Lucchino overruled them. The Red Sox would make the commitment to Fenway Park regardless of the infrastructure issue. Gradually, a media plan emerged: The team would guarantee that baseball would be played in Fenway on its 100th anniversary in 2012; highlight all of  the money the new owners had already spent — and were going to spend — on improving the park; and extend an offer to help the state with infrastructure improvements. Implicit in that offer, of course, was that the state would kick in money, too.

The whole thing was going to be laid out at a press conference at Fenway on March 23, less than a month before the start of the 2005 season. It was a solid plan and might have gone off without a hitch, but it was nearly sunk when an overeager associate decided to give an exclusive advance to Globe columnist Joan Vennochi in a wrong-headed attempt to win some positive press. Joan is a friend of mine and a true baseball fan, but she is a fierce opponent of public financing for professional sports teams. In fact, she’d been one of Kraft’s most dogged critics during his quest for taxpayer money to build a stadium in Boston. When the paper hit the door that morning, you didn’t even need to read the column to know what it said. The headline told it all: “No Public Money for Red Sox.” It would take months to recover from that blunder, which seriously set back the club’s plans for taxpayer support. In the end, the team got less than $100 million.

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images Sport

  • 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!