Doug Mientkiewicz (to the left, his very first game as a Red Sox), proud owner of the World Series-clinching baseball, has every right to think he’s being vilified in Boston today. Fortunately, he went onto a radio show to clear it all up and now, for the most part, most Bostonians are clear what the real story is, though outsiders may still think Mientkiewicz is a greedy person. Let’s walk through how it all started.
It all started with Dan Shaughnessy interviewing Doug Mientkiewicz, and running a story in today’s Boston Globe titled “For now, he’s having a ball“. In it, Mientkiewicz is portrayed as a greedy person (“I can be bought”) and intimates that he’s holding onto the ball for monetary value while the ever so meek Red Sox organization is merely requesting that the ball be returned to them so they can put it on display and champion the ball as the savior of the world. While Shaughnessy scoffs with scorn at the .215 hitter that was not instrumental in the Red Sox’s World Series run (actually, he was, Dan) this takes on a life of its own as he is suddenly a hated man in Boston.
Fortunately, the Mientkiewiczs worked to set the story straight, starting with Doug’s wife, Jodi, posting on the Red Sox MLB forum. Basically, she said the following:
We have told numerous sources since the Series ended that we have the ball and not until this article have we been approached by anyone with the Red Sox to return it to them for a museum. Furthermore, the first we heard of that was through the media and not through a personal conversation with anyone with the Red Sox. Doug and I have no intention of selling the ball for profit. Doug did say he could be bought, joking and laughing the whole time. He also said how much he knows the value of this ball and what it means to Red Sox nation. So before everyone goes crazy, know this, we have always had the ball, we have told other media sources we have it and they have never pitted us against the ownership.
We need to discuss with the Red Sox where it should go, whether it be to a museum, or the Hall or on a tour. This should have been a conversation we had privately but i guess it gives people something to get fired up about when exposed to the public.
We are no strangers to slanted journalism but I think he is going to wait until after he speaks with ownership privately before he comments publicly.
What this sounds like is that the Boston Red Sox were perfectly content to have Mientkiewicz have the ball (after all, why shouldn’t he?) but once a media source sniffed blood in the air and started raising a stink about it, the Red Sox convened and agreed that it would probably be best if the Red Sox had the ball so they could display it, and thus made an innocuous statement.
Carmine Tiso, spokesman for MLB, said, “Doug Mientkiewicz owns the baseball and we authenticated it. Anything beyond that would be between the Red Sox and Doug Mientkiewicz.”
Joe Januszewski, Red Sox director of corporate partnerships, said, “I believe we own the ball, though I don’t know of any precedent for a team saying we need it back. Like, `Hey, Doug, we’d like to have that for our museum.’ I’m sure ownership would treat that delicately . . . It could be Doug’s lasting legacy as a member of the Red Sox.”
Lucchino said, “This is a gray area as to what players think they can take with them. We’re going to ask Doug for the ball. I think it would be a nice gesture on his part to return it to Red Sox Nation.”
Completely innocuous, but when Doug is then portrayed as being greedy (“I know this ball has a lot of sentimental value. I hope I don’t have to use it for the money. It would be cool if we have kids someday to have it stay in our family for a long time. But I can be bought. I’m thinking, there’s four years at Florida State for one of my kids. At least. I see the money going for home run balls by McGwire and Sosa and Bonds. Those are important and all, don’t get me wrong, but there are always going to be more home runs. This is something that took 86 years, and 86 years is a long time. Personally, I went through hell and back this year. But winning the World Series is something I’m going to remember for a long time.”) then a big brouhaha ensues. What we learn from Doug Mientkiewicz when he went on the Dale and Neumy show earlier today is that he was joking around when he said he could be bought.
Part of the transcript was posted on Sons of Sam Horn, and important pieces are outlined below.
BN: Let’s talk about the ball, your feelings, your plans on what to do with it.
DM: (laughing) First of all I thought Foulkie wasn’t gonna throw it, and I was thinking ‘Hey, I want to be on the cover of SI too’. Derek had pitched a good game, and I’d given him the ball from the ALCS and I was gonna do that again and then I thought