Red Sox

MLB Notebook: As baseball implodes, why is John Henry being so quiet?

Since the pandemic forced the shutdown of Major League Baseball in late March, two warring sides -- the owners and the MLB Players Association -- have been trying, without success, to reach an agreement necessary for the game to begin the 2020 season.

In that time, a number of MLB owners (or their representatives in upper management) have shared their thoughts on the dispute.

Bill DeWitt Jr. (St. Louis), Tom Ricketts (Cubs), Ken Kendrick (Arizona), Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine (Yankees) have each made public comments about the challenges teams are facing. Some (DeWitt and Ricketts, in particular) were properly ridiculed for some of their remarks. DeWitt, presumably with a straight face, insisted that owning a franchise wasn't very profitable.

In some instances, it may have been better for all involved had these owners not spoken at all. Some of the rhetoric didn't help matters and the notion that most owners are just folks who aren't in for the money proved laughable.

But however ill-advised their comments were, at least those owners stepped up and had something to say.

Meanwhile, at Fenway Park, the silence is deafening. Neither principal owner John W. Henry nor chairman Tom Werner have said a single word about the impasse.

Where do they stand? Are they pushing for a resolution, eager for the game to resume? Are they suggesting new proposals that could lead to an agreement? Are they attempting to build consensus with fellow owners? Or, have they become labor hawks, intent rolling the union, the better to position the owners for next year's collective bargaining agreement negotiations?

Who knows? Henry hasn't said anything about any topic since he, Werner, team president Sam Kennedy and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom held a press conference when the Red Sox shipped Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers in mid-February.

Henry's public profile has seemingly diminished with each passing year. Typically, he holds one media availability on the day of the Red Sox' first full-squad workout and his discomfort is such that he looks to be making a hostage tape. He's prone to rolling his eyes or shaking his head dismissively when a question is posed to which he objects. Especially when he's part of a group, he ignores some questions lobbed by certain reporters, leaving it to Werner or Kennedy to respond for him.

That's his prerogative, I suppose. Some owners either don't feel the need or responsibility to answer questions. Even when there's good news to announce, Henry has never felt comfortable in such public settings and his awkwardness at times is palpable.

Precisely because Henry is not some "hail fellow, well met'' type, he's not one to try to build bridges with the union or gently twist the arms of fellow owners. That's not his style, so those urging him to play the role of peacemaker -- the way Patriots owner Robert Kraft did in the last NFL labor dispute -- are misguided. Morever, the dynamic is far different in baseball than it is in football.

But in his biography that appears in the Red Sox media guide, Henry is described thusly: "He sees his role as being a steward of this much-loved baseball team.''

Henry has used similar language himself to describe his ownership obligations. He's spoken of the mandate he has from the fans and that his position is one of public trust.

Given that, does not Henry owe