At first, John Henry's purchase of Liverpool FC seemed like nothing more than a side story. Some small bit of news to keep people occupied between Patriots games during the long baseball offseason.
But, of course, when it comes to the Red Sox, things are never that simple. When large amount of money is changing hands from John Henry to someone not directly involved in keeping the Red Sox on the field and winning games, there will be, inevitably, someone who asks why it's not going to Cliff Lee. Or Carl Crawford. Or Jayson Werth.
Would they have a point?
So let's get this out of the way first: Baseball is a business. I know everyone hates to hear that, but it's true. So we can't make it a simple matter of "because John Henry has $500 million lying around, he can spend $500 million on the Red Sox." The Sox' budget has always been the amount he and the ownership group are willing to spend in order to ensure a certain profit margin.
Now that being said, the Red Sox are already a pretty well-established group bringing in pretty big money, so maybe it wouldn't be outside the realm of reason to see Henry divert some money to Liverpool to get them up-and-running. Should we be worried about that?
Again, no. Remember, NESN ratings and merchandising were down this year, and the Sox missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006. This is not a product that can necessarily simply rest on its past laurels-the Sox fanbase has shown itself to be fickle enough that an 89-win season can hurt returns. They might not necessarily spend more money given how much of a role injuries played in the season, but there's no reason to expect them to spend less. Or even less than they would have if Liverpool was still languishing under Tom Hicks.
History bears this out, too. Consider 2007. The Sox were coming off a disappointing season with no trip to the playoffs. The ownership made a significant purchase in the Roush Fenway Racing group (if not nearly so significant as Liverpool), and then went on to give the Sox their highest payroll ever at $143 million.
So don't fret, Sox fans. You might see a few more Football at Fenway events before too long, but it's not likely to cost you anything in terms of Red Sox free agent signings. The worst that could happen is that you may start liking Soccer.