I’ll tell you what’s unrealistic, John Henry

As I begin this latest attempt to dive back into regular blogging, I figured I’d warm myself up by ranting about my favorite pieces of low-hanging rage fruit: professional sports and disphit rich people. In an interview with the Financial Times, John Henry, principal owner of my beloved Boston Red Sox, told a reporter that he believes fans’ expectations to win a World Series every season is unrealistic.

You know what’s unrealistic? Thinking people are going to buy books or audiobooks after reading melodramatic sports takes.

You know what’s even more unrealistic, though? Owning a baseball team, a hockey team, a soccer team, a newspaper, and a racing team, and thinking that kind of greed is ok, because billionaires are about as healthy for society as a hole in the ozone layer. It’s an even bigger fantasy to believe you’re going to be able to manage all of those organizations well. And it’s totally ludicrous to think you can half-ass any of those things and trick your customers into going along with it through a bunch of manipulative marketing that takes advantage of the intimate connection people have with their professional sports teams.

Beyond my bias about out of control capitalism, there’s something very important to note here: Henry’s severely misunderstanding his own customers. It’s not about winning a championship every season; we all know that’s unrealistic. Fans’ frustration with the Boston Red Sox–and with so many other teams throughout the sports world–is entirely because we feel like we’re being lied to. A guy who’s got enough assets that he’ll never have to work another day in his life unless he chooses to is telling us there’s no budget for to keep beloved players or bring in viable replacements. Meanwhile, tickets and concessions are more expensive than ever. Media deals with streaming companies mean there’s more money coming into professional sports than ever.

We don’t expect a championship every year. We expect an honest interaction with a product we care about. We want the makers of that product to do their best to provide us with a quality experience. That’s it. It’s the same as it is with every transaction, whether it’s buying a bag of chips or trading Bitcoin for foot pictures.

But that’s not modern business, is it? Especially where the mega rich are involved. People like John Henry have forgotten that business is supposed to be a two-way street–or maybe they haven’t, and they just don’t care.

There’s a reason I write about literal business demons in my Deviant Magic series. And every time I think I’ve gone a little too far with it, the real world reminds me that I’ll never make those characters vapid, arrogant, self-serving, or destructive enough.