Red Sox Owner John Henry Fined $500,000 In 2009

Hey, to some people $500,000 is a lot of money:

Red Sox principal owner John Henry, in an interview on The Big Show, said that he was fined $500,000 by Major League Baseball for comments that he made about the sport's current financial system. In late-2009, Henry told the Boston Globe that "seven chronically uncompetitive teams, five of whom have had baseball's highest operating profits," had received over $1 billion in revenue sharing money.

Three things about this ...

One, John Henry's been kind to me a few times over the years, and as billionaires go he's probably one of the better ones.

Two, I'm a big fan of the free speech. This isn't a First Amendment situation, but life is generally better and more interesting when people are allowed to speak their minds without fear of punishment.

Three, I have no sympathy for John Henry and I'm glad Commissioner Bud fined him.

Look, Henry knows the deal. He is a member of a very exclusive club. The Baseball Club. And the first rule of Baseball Club is You don't talk about Baseball Club. Not unless you're going to say something positive, anyway. Henry says the beneficiaries of revenue-sharing are allowed to discuss the system ... Well, of course they are; they're positive about the system, and will be as long as the checks keep showing up.

The Commissioner's Office is primarily concerned with two things: money and public relations (which of course are intertwined). And when it comes to public relations, the Commissioner's Office is primarily concerned with the perception that some franchises simply can't afford to compete. The reality is largely irrelevant; for most practical purposes, perception is reality. And however ineffectively, sending money from rich teams to poor teams is the Commissioner's only real strategy for altering that perception.

On a personal level, while I think revenue-sharing is obviously imperfect it's also necessary. And I think incredibly wealthy owners, however well-meaning, should be slapped around a little if they complain about it publicly.

Update: My friend David Pinto respectfully disagrees.

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