Buying the BoSox

Harrington should sell franchise to a local owner; Harvard should have bid

After 68 years under the legendary Yawkey name, the Boston Red Sox will soon be sold to one of at least six groups who bid on the team Nov. 29. This week, CEO John Harrington will be evaluating the offers and choosing a new owner for the Sox. Of all the factors he might consider, we urge him to place local ownership at the top of the list. Local owners have far greater incentives to consider the community’s interests and to keep the team in its home city. The Olde Towne Team is the heart and soul of New England sports, and it should be owned by a Bostonian.

Frank McCourt, a local developer, is one of the most desirable candidates for ownership. The group headed by Boston Concessions owner Joseph O’Donnell and developer Steve Karp would also be an excellent choice to head the Red Sox franchise.

The team at least should not go to the group headed by former Padres executive Tom Werner and skiing magnate Les Otten. The Werner-Otten group includes The New York Times, and it would be an inexcusable insult to have a New York newspaper own part of the Sox. Additionally, the Times owns the Boston Globe, which would create a potential conflict of interest in the Globe’s sports coverage.

And though it hardly needs to be said, the bid by Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs should be the first one thrown out of consideration. The prospect of Jacobs dooming another great team to permanent mediocrity would be too saddening for any Sox fan to bear.

Whoever ends up with the franchise will face the daunting but sacred task of bringing a World Series championship back to Boston. To that end, the first order of business must be to fire Sox GM Dan Duquette. Though the Duke brought superstars Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez to the Sox, Duquette proved he has no sense of team chemistry by publicly taking the side of outfielder Carl Everett in conflicts with the manager. The Sox need a fresh start after this year’s tailspin, and it cannot be done with Duquette at the helm.

The current list of prospective owners offers Harrington a number of attractive choices. But there is one venerable Boston-area bidder missing from the mix—Harvard. A Harvard-owned Sox would never leave Boston before the school leaves Harvard Yard. With 365 years of history behind it, Harvard would have the chance to return the team to its glory days before the Curse of the Bambino. The University should have considered acquiring the Sox; we would have looked forward to attending President Lawrence H. Summers’ office hours in the owner’s box.