Lucchino on Streaks, Strikes, Yankees, Fire, etc...
8.15.02: Larry Lucchino (LL) on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan Show
with Greg Dickerson (GD) and Michael Felger (MF)
GD: What time did you get in office this morning?... LL: I
stayed up for the game, just got up, headed off in about an
(GD bragging about staying up for game and getting up at 4:15
for show) What were you thinking when they got down early?
LL: I was a little concerned at that point too, but we finally
saw some of that old Red Sox power... this kind of win helps, no
doubt about it, we needed this, haven't had a lot of dramatic
wins as you know, we talked about momentum... say it starts with
the next day's pitcher, I do believe that, but we need to get on
tear, 5-6 in a row, that will make a difference, not one here...
LL: Mike and Theo are scouring the waiver wire every day. If
player clears or if we can claim one, we'll do it... but there
is no one that is "hot" at the moment. I wish I could say there
were 2-3 possibilities that we're working on, but the players
out there don't have what we're looking for and/or have
GD: (question about salaries)
LL: I think there may be a slight increase this year, Mike Port
may have a better feeling... there's definitely going to be a
change in the market, salaries are astronomical. I know that
there's been a lot of skepticism in the media about the large
losses for some teams. I can tell you from being with both
large market teams and small market teams, there are now large
losses and considerable debt, people are acting differently.
MF: If someone told you that this year you'd have a healthy
Nomar, a healthy Pedro, Derek Lowe winning 17 games, would you
think you'd be this far out now?
LL: Well if you just accentuate the positives like that, yes.
But what if you said that Dustin Hoffman .....haaa Dustin
Hoffman... I mean Dustin Hermanson was not going to pitch more
that one inning through the first four months of the season.
Manny would miss all those games, some of the negatives in
bullpen... the fact that we're in the hunt is what we should be
recognizing. The coaches and manager feel good about this team,
that puts pressure on them because they're saying 'we've got the
manpower to do it'...
(Timeout: Larry selling tickets... there's been talk that there
are no more tickets available for this season... there are
plenty available, come on down!, over 50,000 tickets still to be
purchased, some obstructed views, some standing rooms, and
singles, but others are better, just a little plug so not to
mislead the public)
MF: What would be your grade for Grady at this point in the
LL: Managers are going to be second guess, that's baseball.
And in Boston more than anywhere else. The principal job of a
manager is not so much the tactical as it is managerial,
(something like setting the overall tone) the clubhouse role, no
issues, no tumult, is best indication that this team is pointed
in the right direction. But I know what you mean, I sometimes
say 'oh my goodness' when I see something...
GD: (from my email to the show) There's a feeling out there
that this team has no "sense of urgency," that this team needs a
kick-in-the-ass to get them going?
LL: This 'fire' is more an attribute of other sports, baseball
teams pride themselves on consistency, regularity, b/c of the
everyday nature of it. It's less of an issue in baseball than
football. That kind of fire and coaching is part of the game of
football, a football cliché. I see it both ways, Lou Pinella
had less success in his early stages of managing, he's more
mellow now, more predictable, and team is reacting better...
hey I was with Earl Weaver in the early days, screaming... sure
very popular with fans, but players may not respond as well...
GD: But do you get a feel a "sense-of-urgency" though? We keep
saying they've got to get on a run here...
LL: It's hard to see the daily evidence of that as it's more
of an internal matter. I know how intense they are, how
confident they are, they do recognize the opportunity here as a
number of guys are having exceptional years. If we don't
capitalize on what we have, something is wrong. They take a
certain pride in being constant, not being erratic. I don't see
the evidence of it (lack of urgency, fire). These guys are
intensely competitive. We have a big payroll this year and they
believe the Yankees can be caught. Now they just have to go out
and do the catching...
MF: So you think Manny Ramirez is saying "hey guys, we have a
$100 million dollar payroll, we need to win this thing..."
LL: (chuckle) Well I'm not so sure Manny thinks that :-)
LL: We've picked up Embree, Horwre, Floyd. John, Tom... we did
our job. This is a year where we have a chance to do something.
And the players are not blind to that. They appreciate the
intensity and commitment this ownership brings... financially
MF: We hear reports that the luxury tax issue in the labor
LL: Well it's not a "luxury tax." That's the Players
Association's (PA) way to spin it as something not essential. I
would call it a competitive balance tax. It's really just a
MF: So is it a matter of just crunching that number?
LL: Well I'm not at the table, but the core issues are
unresolved, what's going to be the interaction between the exact
level and structure of revenue sharing? The other issue is the
amount of the payroll tax, what threshold that applies and
at what rate. The Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) found it more
tolerable to the players than a salary cap. So these issues are
more moderate by nature than the salary cap issue of the past.
Teams can spend as much money as they want. Just keep them in a
range so they know there is a competitive balance.
GD: Throwing out numbers we've heard... $100M threshold if over
50% tax, $50M of funds funneled back...
LL: No determination as to what would happen with a payroll tax
(funds). But this is an alternative... there was payroll
tax from '97-'99 between 34-35%. But money was used for baseball
development and other possibilities. What would it be used for
and how will that be determined?
LL: I'm not at the table but it could be used as a central fund
for baseball, ball park development in certain places other
meritous causes. Maybe a separate fund, we've used the Baseball
Tomorrow Fund, designed for amateur and children's baseball.
Money could be used on a combination of three to four things.
MF: But will this help the Kansas City's...?
LL: First part of the payroll tax would discourage clubs for
having an "out of whack" payroll in comparison to everybody
else. That's what the BRP had in mind. Some greater
comparability about payroll. A floor and certain amount. Hey,
if you're at $100M and want to add to your payroll, you can do
it, but we want to discourage it by taxing you. It's designed
to keep a comparability in payrolls.
MF: Does revenue sharing hurt or help the Red Sox?
LL: Sure the immediate impact is probably detrimental as it
diverts revenue from us to other places. But the expectation is
that it will be better in long-term. Competitive balance will
make the games even more exciting . Competitive games
are attractive to fans at the gate and on TV and contribute to
escalating growth in players' salaries. We have a system that
works well for one team, the New York Yankees. They have a
chance to win, add payroll, and make money at the end. The
other 29 teams are in a different category because of the
differences in the markets.
GD: Hold on Larry, we're getting phone calls that people are
calling the Red Sox ticket office and they are being told that
"tickets sold out for the remainder of the season"...
LL: What I think needs to happen is that I have to get dressed
and get down there... we have tickets the day of a game, or day
before game when tickets are freed up. If want to go on
Tuesday, call on Tuesday. Get on web, phone... you don't have
to come down.. But we did count yesterday and that's what we've
got (50,000 tickets). Maybe not four together, if that's what
they're calling about...
MF: When do I get beer on Yawkey Way?
LL: There you go again, there you go again... it happens on
September 5th and I think fans will like extra option of
food... MF: Beer? LL: Space! Fans will like less congestion,
and hopefully it will lead to some horizontal expansion of
GD: I've been going to Red Sox games at Camden for years, Utah
Street is a great idea... LL: Exactly, we're going to have
sound piped in so you can still get a feel for game... It's
funny, we used Fenway as model for Camden, now we're using a
Camden element for Fenway...
GD: Larry, we heard Trot Nixon speaking to the media after game
and we could hear the Backstreet Boys playing in the
background... we know of no team that has ever won the World
Series that listened to the Back Street Boys... LL: Well
maybe no team hasn't won that...
GD: Right after you go down there and the heads are done
rolling in the ticket office, can you address the music issue in
LL: Yes...I'll march right in there and ask 'what kind of music
are you people listening to?' :-)
GD: Jimmy Fund radio-thon?
LL: Oh yes, Jimmy Fund breakfast for one of the great causes in
the world, pediatric oncology, fighting kids' cancer... Tom,
John and I will be there, actively participating in
the radio-thon... Grady, coaches, Trot and Daubach...(who spend
a lot of time at Dana-Farber unpublicized)...
GD: (Talking about how great the Jimmy Fund is)
LL: My association with Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund goes
back to 1985, highly personal in nature. Two of the great
characteristics of living in this area, the Red Sox role will be
even bigger and better in the next 50 years...