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Jacobsen: Two teams, too much hassle (Jan. 21)

Vicky Jacobsen | Monday, January 21, 2013

Dear readers: Assuming I one day become ridiculously, disgustingly rich, please remind me that I can only purchase one of my favorite sports teams.

Let’s just say I’ve learned from John Henry’s mistakes. It now seems obvious that owning one dysfunctional organization full of needy young millionaires is more than enough to keep any middle-aged billionaire busy, but in 2010 I was overjoyed at the prospect of Henry and Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner taking the reigns at Liverpool.

I’d grown to love Boston cross-sport promotion (yes, I’m one of those people who reads the article about Wes Welker being spotted at a Celtics game.) I had realized my reasons for supporting Liverpool were tenuous at best – as a nine-year-old living in England, I had decided that Reds star Michael Owen was way cuter than Manchester United’s David Beckham – but now Fenway Sports Group was bringing two of my favorite teams together.

As it turns out, watching horrifying forced interactions between the Red Sox and the Reds is not nearly as fun as it sounds (there’s a great clip of a clearly uncomfortable Charlie Adam telling Cody Ross that no, he never play cricket.) Although the arrival of spectacular young forward Daniel Sturridge has held off panic in Liverpool (at least for this week), the past two seasons have been rough for both clubs. Fans in Fenway and Anfield have found the same scapegoat: the owners and the attention paid to “that team on the other side of the pond.”

I don’t know why supporters think their owners are skimping on time and money spent on each organization. For both teams, the problem wasn’t so much an unwillingness to pay for star players, but rather splurges who weren’t worth their paycheck (see: Carroll, Andy and Lackey, John). And if Henry really is broke, as he tweeted several days ago, it likely because of problems at his financial trading firm, not because he has to pay a shortstop and a midfielder at the same time.

And as an American who is familiar with the exploits of NFL owners, I can guarantee that there is no correlation between owner involvement and success on the field. I’m sure most of the Cowboys organization wishes Jerry Jones had a hobby that required more field trips to Europe.

But the saddest part of all this, at least from my perspective, is the growing resentment between fans of the Reds and the Red Sox. Really, they should get along pretty well: Besides matching names and color schemes, both teams have glorious histories that had sputtered by the time I started following the team (the Sox, of course, had a legendary 86-year title drought, while Liverpool has won 18 League titles, but none in the last 23 years.) Both have legions of working class supporters with Irish heritage. I feel certain that all of the Fenway Faithful will one day grow to love “Sweet Caroline” in the same way Anfield loves “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” (As far as I’m concerned, the Neil Diamond holdouts belong to a special population of New Englanders who despise fun.)

And one last thing they have in common: their troubles stretch far beyond the reach of the owners.
 

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.