Boardroom team at Fenway: The Boston Vice Presidents

Stray observations and idle musings while sorting out the 43 men, women, and children who are posted as official Red Sox vice presidents in the team’s annual media guide, which we assume is accurate. Not clear is what they all do or how they rank in the official pecking order.

Are organizational confabs conducted in the bleachers? How do they stay out of one another’s way? Are all vice presidents equal? How many have keys to the executive washroom or get to wine and dine on John Henry’s yacht? More importantly, how many have the ear of the team’s de facto privy council – the 12-member governing politburo listed as the “‘Executive Management Team,” all listed as “senior executive VPs” reporting directly to the five top dogs in the chain of command, including the owners themselves?

In the media guide’s official “Front Office Directory,” there are 242 titled positions occupied by 272 people, including those 43 VPs who are, presumably, in charge of the 28 different departments that are also listed. None of this, of course, includes the people who actually do the work, cooking, cleaning, ushering, sweeping, fixing, maintaining, policeing, answering phones, etc.

This is what bureaucracy looks like, old Sport. But in Baseball? It was not that long ago – the end of the Yawkey era – when they had three VPs, including the team treasurer, a bookish little man rarely seen at the park let alone sitting through a game.

All of which may have less bearing on differences in the product on the field than you may think. It’s far more a matter of how bloated  the game has become, swollen by piggish profits sustained by hideous prices that have multiplied the value of franchises more than 20 fold in less than 40 years. The business of Baseball has left the game on the field quite secondary to the corporate slugfest upstairs. Change! You gotta love it! One can think of at least 43 folks who sure do.

Whither the Olympics?
Updating the gathering Olympics’ crisis, which gets little of the attention it should. Budapest has become the latest town to back out of competition to host the 2024 Games, quickly following Hamburg and Rome.  A quarter million Hungarians signed a petition demanding withdrawal, leaving Paris and Los Angeles in the running.

But France’s fragile political situation may quash the Paris candidacy, which would dump the thing in LA’s lap, doubtless to its ultimate regret. Enter Mr. Trump and his anti-immigrant crusade. Understandably, it has the ruling bodies of global sports worried about the problems athletes could face trying to compete in the US, a fear also now threatening America’s bid to host the World Cup of Soccer in 2028, a bid hitherto believed in the bag.

The point of it all being the Olympics, as now constituted, are in big trouble. As the dimensions of Rio’s fiasco last summer become more apparent, the aversion to bidding by would-be-hosts soars. Who needs the grief?  Beijing won the 2022 winter games only when remote Almaty in mysterious Kazakhstan became the only alternative.  Change! To survive, the Olympics must embrace it.

WBC Gives MLB the Jitters
Then there’s the World Baseball Classic, set to dominate the rest of March, long the happy domain of the traditional Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues where light duty is the MO. You’ll find precious little sympathy for BB owners in this space. But on this question you can almost sympathize with them.

Why should the Mariners be pleased to see Robinson Cano give all he’s got for the dear old Dominican Republic when they’re paying him $25 million to devote his fullness to the 162-game regular-season? You better believe the Red Sox will be on their collective knees praying that Xander Bogaerts doesn’t stub his toes shortstopping for the Netherlands the next three weeks, much as the Yankees will be doing every time Dellin Betances – who was seeking an innings-cap  just a month ago – gets summoned to save games for the DR.

For MLB, the WBC makes no bloody sense. What’s in it for them to be promoting baseball in Holland, Australia, or South Korea? They’re in this pickle because they lost the argument to the MLBPA, the players’ union. On this question, the MLBPA is wrong.  

Werner Wanders Off Base
One’s suspicions about Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner were confirmed with word that he strongly favors the lunacy proposed by Commissioner Rob Manfred to speed up games by placing a runner on second at the start of extra innings in games tied after nine.  This is the dumbest idea anyone connected with baseball has concocted since Charlie Finley proposed painting baseballs green to add a little “color” to the proceedings.

But Charlie was another John McGraw compared with Manfred, who has fumbled and flummoxed enough in his first months on the job to strongly suggest he won’t have it very long. Tinkering with baseball’s essential dynamics is a fool’s errand, making it no surprise that Werner – ever anxious to please the powers-that-be – was so quick to second the silly motion.

Having prepared for baseball in Tinsel Town, where he produced sit-coms, the basis for Mr. Werner’s thinking is clear. But he needs to be reminded, this is not “Bosom Buddies.”