Red Sox Hat

For now, focus on looming nightmare – owners and players negotiating

One need not be a friend, relative or business associate to see that John Henry doesn’t enjoy more than a nano-second in the spotlight.

Alas, as owner of the Red Sox, Fenway Park and much of its neighborhood, the Boston Globe, most of NESN, Rousch Fenway Racing, a soccer team in Liverpool and assorted other (less visible) stuff, maintaining a low profile isn’t easy.

Still, Henry pulls it off quite well. He’ll take questions in a public forum for the occasions that absolutely require his mug but is on and off the stage with a quickness Rickey Henderson never achieved.

Now, Fenway Sports Group (aka, Henry, and his business partner Tom Werner) are said to have put the finishing touches on a deal to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins. Compared to his other major properties, the Penguins were a steal. Forbes pegged the Penguins as a $650 million team, so presumably he’ll pay a bit more.

Regardless, Henry could buy the entire Metropolitan Division of the National Hockey League. The NHL would frown on that, even if it meant a healthy infusion of cold cash.

Around here, of course, the discussion centers on how buying the Penguins would affect the Red Sox. For the past 20 years, just about anything Henry does is assessed by what it could mean for the Red Sox.

Coming almost simultaneously with left-handed ace Eduardo Rodriguez’s departure for the Detroit Tigers stoked the flames. Rodriguez signed a five-year, $77 million deal with the Tigers, not a bank-breaker, but not bad.

There are two reasons why this shouldn’t bring mass consternation. Rodriguez has shown himself to be consistently inconsistent and has a history of physical issues.

And as this is written, there is a real chance that the 2022 MLB season will be shortened, if not completely gutted. Negotiations between the owners and the Players Association are said to be tanking,

The current collective bargaining agreement expires Dec. 1. For that time being, the date means nothing unless MLB is planning some counter-programming to foil the NBA Christmas Day extravaganza.

But if the sides are already in stare-down mode, every day it goes on is another step to yet another suicide pact between the owners and players.

How many slaps in the face will fans stand for? Will anyone under the age of 50 care a whit about baseball if another season is abbreviated or wiped out because the principals can’t decide how to divvy up their billions of dollars?

Forget about Fenway Sports Group buying the Pittsburgh Penguins. The scarier proposition for the Red Sox, not to mention NESN, is if there is nothing at all to see next summer.

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