In a situation which may seem familiar to Liverpool fans, Fenway Sports Group have been criticised for turning the Boston Red Sox into “underdogs.”
The Red Sox are one of the most iconic franchises in baseball, founded in 1901 and winners of nine World Series – more than all but two others, the New York Yankees (27) and the St Louis Cardinals (11).
Four of those have come under FSG, who purchased the Boston outfit in 2002, but things have turned sour in recent years.
A lack of investment has seen them unable to compete with the likes of the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros, and they are at risk of missing the post-season tournament which leads to the World Series.
While the complexities of baseball and its recruitment are hard to decipher for those not following the sport, journalists around Boston have summed it up.
“The Red Sox are one of the most powerful brands in American sport,” the Providence Journal‘s Bill Koch wrote on Twitter.
“They’ve been transformed into underdogs by an owner content with a midtier payroll and a chief baseball officer who is risk averse.
“John Henry and Chaim Bloom are making this team smaller. It’s disappointing.”
The Red Sox are one of the most powerful brands in American sport.
They've been transformed into underdogs by an owner content with a midtier payroll and a chief baseball officer who is risk averse.
John Henry and Chaim Bloom are making this team smaller. It's disappointing. https://t.co/GBwmOt9ydd
— Bill Koch (@BillKoch25) August 1, 2023
Koch’s criticism came after chief baseball officer Bloom pitched the Red Sox as “underdogs,” after this week’s trade deadline, despite their status as one of the giants in baseball.
NBC10 Boston’s Sam Murray added: “It’s amazing how the Red Sox had an opportunity to either buy or sell at the deadline and did neither.
“Now they’re three back in the Wild Card, have lost five of their last six, and are treading water.
“Thanks John Henry and Chaim Bloom! Such a fun product to watch!”
If the fans think that Chaim Bloom or John Henry will change the way the Red Sox now operate they are kidding themselves. They will sell the future but the reality is the bottom line. They are a middle market team.
— Upton Bell (@uptonbell) August 5, 2023
In a column for the Boston Herald, Bill Speros outlined a scenario that is eerily similar to that seen on Merseyside in recent years:
“In all-but opting out at the trade deadline, the Red Sox party line immediately focused on the return of Chris Sale, Tanner Houck and Story.
“Sometime this season, they will be enough to provide any boost the team could have received by dealing at the deadline.
“With Bloom still employed as of this writing, it has never been more evident that he is following the lead of ownership, in both paring payroll and avoiding any sort of contract that would add an unnecessary burden to the Fenway Sports Group bank account.”
This comes after Mookie Betts, a legendary player in the Red Sox’s history under FSG, admitted he would have stayed at the Boston franchise for his entire career only to be traded to the LA Dodgers in 2020.
In January, Henry was booed by Red Sox fans at their Fenway Park home during the NHL Winter Classic, with tensions mounting over their low-spending ownership.
While Liverpool have spent £95 million on Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai this summer, and there is scope for further signings, the club have also recouped major funds with six senior departures.
There are already supporters frustrated with FSG’s risk-averse ownership model – and it is clearly a feeling shared across the Atlantic.
Meanwhile, FSG’s search for new investment into Liverpool is ongoing, but with no breakthrough as of yet despite claims a resolution could be made before the summer.