It's hard to overstate just how out of touch John Henry, the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, is with the fan base.
In a recent interview with The Athletic's Jen McCaffrey, Henry attempted to downplay the unrest among fans, painting a rosy picture of a team in steady decline for years.
Unfortunately for Henry, fans aren't buying it. Henry disputed false reports of booing directed towards him during the NHL Winter Classic game at Fenway Park. This is a classic case of a rich, out-of-touch owner being utterly tone-deaf to the frustrations of the fan base. Yes, the Red Sox have had success in the past, but that doesn't mean fans will sit idly by and watch the team's fortunes slip away without voicing their displeasure.
Henry mentioned losing Xander Bogaerts to the San Diego Padres and concerns about Rafael Devers' future with the team as factors in the discontent among fans. But when pressed about Bogaerts, Henry's response showed just how little he understands about what the fans are looking for from their team. According to Henry, the team could have offered more years to retain Bogaerts, but that would have meant delaying the team's rebuilding process.
This is an absurd statement. Fans don't want to wait for a team that may or may not be good in five or ten years. They want to see their team win now, and they want to see their favorite players rewarded for their contributions to the organization.
Compounding the issue is that the Red Sox have slipped in their payroll costs in recent years. This team is estimated to be the third-most valuable franchise in MLB, yet they are on pace to be just 11th in payroll this year.
This is simply unacceptable.
Fans don't want to hear about "rebuilding processes" or "salary caps." They want to see their team compete at the highest level, year in and year out. Trading away elite talent like Mookie Betts and losing a bidding war for fan favorite Bogaerts sends a message that the team doesn't value these players or their contributions to the organization.
And let's remember the debacle that was the Red Sox's handling of the Alex Cora situation. Cora, who led the team to a World Series victory in 2018, was fired for his role in the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal. While it's understandable that the team would want to distance itself from any association with cheating, how Cora was fired left a bad taste in fans' mouths. The ownership group appeared to be throwing Cora under the bus to save face, and many fans saw this as yet another sign of the team's disconnect from its fan base.
John Henry is entirely out of touch with the fans, and his recent comments have only served to underscore that fact. The Red Sox have a passionate fan base that expects nothing but the best from their team, and it remains to be seen whether the organization can deliver on those expectations moving forward.
The team's recent success may have bought them some goodwill with the fans, but it can only last so long. If the Red Sox continue to slip in the standings and fail to make the necessary moves to improve the team, they risk alienating their fan base and becoming another mediocre team in a crowded sports landscape.