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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Fan Paradigm Shift: Winning, Not Stars

It is disappointing to hear that Jason "$50M+ and No Trade" Varitek is likely gone as a Red Sox, but I can live with it. I learned to live without Nomah, Clemens, Mo Vaughn, Lawyer Milloy, and Drew Bledsoe as well. And in all the cases except possibly Clemens, team management was right to trade them or let them go.
So, while I am very fond of 'Tek and Pedro ($15M for a 6 inning pitcher?), Georgie Porgie can have him if he is willing to tie up $60M in a fragile arm and (another) irritable personality.

Theo Epstein and Bill Belichek have been teaching star-obsessed Boston area fans a lesson in sports team management and leadership the last few years:
- it is about the team and winning, not exhaulted and beloved personalities;
- it is about value for payroll dollars (especially in the cap-driven NFL) across the entire roster;
- it is about focus on the dimensions of sports that don't make the most interesting highlight clips on SportsCenter but win you championships (like defense and pitching in baseball, and defense and execution period in football);
- and like any successful large business, it is about having a strategy to run the business and accomplish your goals, and sticking to that despite losing key people, and making sure you - and not your employees - run the business.
Sports is, after all, a business. Besides making money, for the fans the business of sports is winning - which makes the best entertainment.
'Bye Jason and Pedro.