What do you do when you’re a newspaper that owns part of a baseball club? Why, you cover it to death, sell trinkets, medallions, and framed photos of covers, and generally try to do everything in your power to make the Red Sox the most important story in the city. But being the paper of record doesn’t always make you right. Here are five examples of Globe misfires.
"AFTER READING WHAT YOU WROTE, I LOST ALL RESPECT FOR YOU" - Red Sox manager Terry Francona to controversial Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, according to Feeding the Monster
“Fenway for free,” by Stan Grossfeld. July 13, 2006
It was a cute idea, and a fine fluff piece to fill space on the last day of the All-Star break. But something about this cheeky exposé of resourceful teens finding ways to sneak into Fenway Park struck us as a little fishy. Their exploits were documented in detail by the camera-toting author — and witnessed by several bystanders clearly visible in the photos — but the cops and security guards who ring the Fenway perimeter never noticed the commotion?
“Hit the road with Sox and get ...”, by Sasha Talcott. May 3, 2006
Much has been made of the Sox’ savvy in raking in revenue. And when they announced this spring that the team would be getting into the travel business, offering “Red Sox Destinations” packages (for $500 to $1000) which lure fans to away games with plans that include lodging, game tickets, and the chance to mingle with players, it seemed innovative, if, at this point, a bit unsurprising. What was surprising was the Globe — whose parent company, the New York Times, owns that infamous 17 percent stake in the team — splashing the story, complete with snazzy graphics, on the front page. Full disclosure was made, of course, but seldom has the conflict of interest been so stark. Even Dan Shaughnessy was appalled, taking his employer to task the next day for “a Red Sox infomercial … guaranteed to embolden those who believe the Globe is part of a Red Sox Cartel.”
“Let's iron out some of this dirty laundry,” by Dan Shaughnessy. October 30, 2005
Despite some serious trepidation about the working environment on Yawkey Way, Theo Epstein was all set to re-up with a three-year contract. Dan Shaughnessy thought so too. “The news conference should be at Fenway tomorrow afternoon. Halloween. No tricks. No boos.” But he didn’t stop there. The rest of his column was pure poison, a series of digs at Epstein — taking him to task for not respecting his elders, reminding readers that it was Larry Lucchino who’d “discovered” the Sox GM and who “held his hand and drove him places during his Wonder Years” — that confirmed Theo’s worst misgivings. As Mnookin reports: “After reading Shaughnessy’s column, Epstein sat down and wrote John Henry an e-mail. The next day, Epstein wrote, he would resign as general manager of the Boston Red Sox. ‘I have a huge pit in my stomach,’ Epstein wrote. ‘But it’s nowhere near as big a pit as I’d have if I’d already signed a contract.’ ”
“Sulking shortstop does not want Sox series ring,” by Steve Silva. February 25, 2005
Steve Silva does not write for the Boston Globe, but his fan site, BostonDirtDogs.com, is owned by Boston.com, the Globe’s online presence. When he posted this “scoop” — that Nomar Garciaparra, angry about being traded in the middle of the ’04 season, didn’t want the World Series ring he had earned — his purported source was a fan at Cubs spring training in Arizona who claimed the shortstop said, “I don’t want it. They can keep it.” As Bruce Allen at Boston Sports Media Watch later discovered, the single, unverified e-mail Silva used as his source was in fact a hoax, “done on purpose … to see what Silva would do with the information.” The item was later removed, and Nomar got his ring. But, as Allen writes, the questions remain. “Though the Boston Globe seems to want to distance themselves from BostonDirtDogs, the fact of the matter is that Steve Silva is a Boston.com employee, represents Boston.com, and should be held to the same standards as other reporters and columnists. Claiming that he’s ‘just a blogger’ just doesn’t cut it.”
“Yawkey Way: bring in best,” by Will McDonough. December 2, 2001
The late, legendary columnist is entitled to his opinion, of course. But this piece, in which McDonough exhorted John Harrington to sell the team to suitors Joe O’Donnell and Steve Karp “because their local roots and financial stability” were best for the team, was emblematic of a Boston media (and political) landscape that was heavily in favor of the hometown boys in the months leading up to the sale. Indeed, O’Donnell and Karp might have been fine stewards of the team and its legacy. But in the end, Mnookin reports, they weren’t inclined to pony up enough of their own fortunes to make the sale. Meanwhile, it’s fairly clear that the once-vilified Henry-Werner carpetbaggers have acquitted themselves quite admirably — what with a revivified Fenway park, three straight playoff appearances, and one World Series trophy. (And now the Globe owns part of the Sox, so everyone’s happy.)
Some Globe stories to look for in the future …
“Can you see me? I’m waving. Can you see me?”, “Cell phones and Sox tickets — A match made in Heaven,” and “401(K) or Red Sox collector Coins: Which investment is right for you?”