Are winning championships no longer a priority for Boston sports owners?
At the turn of the century the New England Patriots had still never won a Super Bowl, the Boston Red Sox hadn't won in over 80 years. the Boston Bruins in nearly 30, and the Boston Celtics who dominated the NBA winning 16 titles in the league's first 30 seasons, hadn't won a single one in 14.
The Patriots broke the 15+ year Boston drought winning their first championship on February 3rd, 2002. Over the next 17 years, the Pats would win 5 more, the Boston Red Sox 6 of their own, and the Bruins and Celtics would both win 1 apiece.
Based on their financial moves of late, one could question if these 4 ownership groups have even close to the same passion for winning championships as they once did. The Celtics spent a lot to win during the KG era, but in each season since 2008 that ended in the NBA Finals or Eastern Conference Finals, they've always seemed to be one player short. Yes injuries have played a part, but every team deals with injuries. The Golden State Warriors luxury tax bills dwarf the Celtics' in the past decade and that's had an effect.
The Red Sox went from the perennial 2nd largest payroll in Major League Baseball to running their team like they can't afford to compete anymore. There was no excuse to let homegrown young stars Mookie Betts and Xander Bogarts go. Principal owner John Henry seems to have checked out and moved on to other financial endeavors.
John Henry is in his mid 70's and Kraft and Jacobs are both in their 80's. Wyc Grousbeck is the youngest of the quartet now at 62. At the start of this century, none of these owners had ever won a championship and all were younger than 60. Winning was a priority. You could say, you can't blame someone further up in age for prioritizing other things more and you'd be right, but they could also sell their teams right?
One thing that's for sure is when each of these owners cash out they will make a windfall due to the extraordinary increase of value of each franchise since they were purchased. Each owner could lead their respective leagues in payroll for the next ten years and still make out like bandits when they sell.
But they say the only thing rich businessmen like more than money is more money, so it's always important to keep that in mind. Making money will always be a priority. Ideally you'd have some filthy rich billionaire like Balmer or Cuban owning your team, but even the latter has tightened the purse strings some of late. I'd argue that Cuban as he's aged and after winning a title is no longer as passionate about the Mavs as he once was.
I think all 4 ownership groups still want to win, but the passion isn't there for anyone as it was two decades ago, especially. not with the Red Sox. What might bring that passion back is having an owner who has never won a championship. To get that would necessitate a sale though and none of these groups are looking to offload their cash cows yet.
While we definitely could have worse owners, it's still on us as fans to push these men to field as competitive teams as they can. They'll use salary caps, luxury taxes, tax aprons, and financial flexibility as their keywords for why they don't pay a player. No need for us as fans to carry their (expensive) water and defend them like I've see in recent years when they cheap out.
They can surely defend themselves. Just like they can all pay to have championship contenders if they so desire.