Prompted by what he said were misleading statements from Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti on 98.5 The Sports Hub's 'Felger and Mazz' show, Red Sox owner John Henry made a surprise visit to the studio and engaged in a sometimes testy exchange with the two hosts.
"We've been smeared. You guys have been smearing us," said Henry of accusations that the Red Sox deliberately badmouthed Terry Francona and leaked information to the Boston Globe's Bob Hohler for the story on the clubhouse problems that ran earlier this week. "The author of the story has gone on the record as saying we did not participate in it. So I don't know what else there is to say about it."
He said as he was listening to the show while driving through the city, "All I could think to myself was, 'Journalists don't knowingly mislead the public'." And he said that's what led him to go to the studio and ask to go on the air.
"Maybe you're entertainers sometimes, journalists sometimes, and maybe you're more entertainers today than journalists," Henry told the two, who added: "It's important for the public not to be misled."
Henry was frequently challenged -- and interrupted -- by Felger and Massarotti, prompting him at one point to comment: "You guys don't need me here. All I do is give you facts, but you're much more entertaining than I am."
Among the highlights of their conversation . . .
He said he was opposed to the Carl Crawford signing. "Anyone involved in the process, anyone in upper management with the Red Sox, will tell you that I personally opposed that," said Henry. "We had plenty of left-handed hitting. I dont have to go into why. Ill just tell you that at the time I opposed the deal, but I dont meddle to the point of making decisions for our baseball team."
He also denied that the Crawford signing and the trade for Adrian Gonzalez were P.R. moves in response to declining television and radio ratings after the 2010 season.
Henry said the notion that the Red Sox weren't trying to win during their September collapse was ludicrous. "Did you watch any of those games?" he said. "I didn't see any of our players doing anything other than busting their ass to win games."
"The chaos" surrounding the team at the moment "is much more external than internal," said Henry. "You said, 'The Red Sox are in ashes.' That's not how we feel about it . . . There's not a sense of desperation, except when we turn on the radio. We're going to be successful next year."
He said the situation on the Sox was not nearly as bad as was depicted in the Globe story. He said the players, in fact, did their conditioning work. "Unless our training people are lying to me directly, the answer is yes, they did their work," said Henry.
He also wouldn't comment on Theo Epstein's situation, but said he didn't want to see Epstein leave the organization.
"I really can't go into it," he said. "There's a prohibition against announcements being made during the postseason in baseball . . . As far as I know, he's still involved with the Red Sox operation.
"I'd love to have Theo back. I'd have loved to haveTheo as our general manager for the next 20 years. But you can't alwaysget what you want . . . The fact is, being general manager in Boston isa terrifically tough job.
He said the Sox are working on a multiyear contract extension with president and CEO Larry Lucchino.
He expressed incredulity when Felger said he didn't believe Dustin Pedroia was telling the truth when he said he didn't know players were drinking beer and playing video games in the clubhouse during games.
"You think Dustin Pedroia's lying, too? Boy, you don't know Dustin very well," said Henry. "So you think he's a liar, I'm a liar, Lucchino's a liar . . . "
He promised the team would rebound in 2012.
"It broke my heart to see this club fall apart at the end," he said. "We were devastated to lose that last game, and night after night after night to find ways to lose . . . You put everything you can into trying to win a World Series. To have it fall apart at the end is upsetting. And painful . . .
"But if the fans hang in there, then I'm going to hang in there . . . We're going to have a great team next year."