Baseball games are won and lost on the field. You can spend all the money in the world to put together a super team, but that doesn't guarantee success. At the end of the day, you have to play the game. No way around it.
Of course, there are more elements to success that just playing the game. First and foremost, you need to have the talent. Ideally, every player is going to give his all (Josh Beckett, excluded), but everyone has a ceiling. If a team doesn't have capable players, the odds of winning are minute. Moneyball is nice on paper, but ... yeah, the Oakland Athletics still haven't won. Simply put, you can only mask a lack of ability for so long.
That brings us to our
beloved enjoyable tolerated Boston Red Sox. They have the third highest payroll in the sport this season at $173,186,617 and are paying players an average salary of $5,093,724 (per USA Today). Not too shabby. Alas, they are 33-33 nearing the midway point.
Case and point, you can pay them oodles of money, but that doesn't lock down the wins.
Still, somebody deserves blame for this. Who should we blame? Certainly, the players should get a lot of the blame pie (not to mention Beckett again, but ... leader of the "toxic" clubhouse culture). They're not getting the job done. Plain and simple. Then, there's the coaching staff. Bobby Valentine has made some, well, interesting decisions during the course of his Sox tenure. The front office gets the finger pointed at it, too, since it assembles the ball club on the field.
There's only one group left, the owners. Do they deserve some blame for the Sox' struggles?
It's a complicated question. The answer? Yes, and no. Let me explain. Better yet, let Tom Werner.
"We don't dictate who Theo or Ben [Cherington] should sign," said Werner, the chairman of the Red Sox, on WEEI Tuesday. "What we do is we try to give them the resources to be successful. There's a sense that non-baseball people are telling baseball people what to do, but what we do is we try to create the revenue streams for our baseball operations people to be successful."
Werner is right on the money here (pun intended). The ideal business model for a baseball team is to have owners on top that find ways to increase revenue, thereby maximizing the payroll, and to have a set of baseball operations personnel that can properly spread the money around to field a competitive team. No problem with that logic. Then again, that is not the complete picture.
Werner and principal owner John Henry are ultimately in charge of putting the "baseball people" in place. Translation, the owners do deserve a portion of the blame, but the majority of fan ire shouldn't be directed toward the top. Excluding this season's (and last September's) struggles, this ownership group his done a pretty darn good job. The two World Series championships say it all.
It's easy to get mad at this ownership group, what with their partnership with LeBron James and their divided attention between the Red Sox and their new toy, Liverpool FC. Don't let that cloud your vision, though. Sure, you can blame the owners a bit, but keep the facts in mind.
Henry and Werner have done their part. They have invested a lot of money year in and year out in this baseball team. They can't be blamed because the "baseball people" made poor signings. Well, they can, just not as much as the others. Still, the status quo doesn't work. Werner agrees.
"Is there pressure to win in Boston? Of course there's pressure to win in Boston and we don't apologize for that," Werner said. "... We have to ask our organization and we expect from them that we're going to be competitive every year. I don't think we have the right in this market, in good conscience, to say to our fans that we're going to have a bridge year. We don't believe that."
That's the mindset everyone wants to hear. Now, it's time for the players to start stepping up.