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Larry Lucchino on Duke, Fenway Magic, Caminiti, testing, Manny, MVPs, ATMs

6.6.02 8:15am EDT:  Larry Lucchino (LL) on with on with Dennis (JD) & Callahan (GC) on The Dennis & Callahan Show on WEEI:

GC: Things have changed around here; we thought you were doing great… I didn’t realize you’re under .500 lifetime?

LL: Haa, haa, don’t know where he’s beginning, I go back to 1980, and if you go back there I think I’m over .500, not sure. You’re not going to drag me into cat fight here Callahan.
Yes, I read the article.

No, I did not know he was in the employee dining room, but that’s not inappropriate, the press eats there, visiting team members and scouts… maybe he was seeing old friends in the medi…ahh well that won’t work…. Maybe he was seeing some old friends on other teams.

GC: We’re you surprised he said he was surprised when dismissed?

LL: I’m surprised. I think there were plenty of indications that lots of changes were on the horizon. With our real concern about having fresh start, it would have been difficult to do with same people remaining. You are dragging me into this Callahan.

GC: An “element” of success, was that a carefully chosen word?

LL: I was asked to respond to some criticism leveled my way, so it may have been chosen… look, does he deserve credit absolutely, the people working with him deserve credit… Johnny Damon was a successful pick up; there are a couple of players that the old regime acquired this past season that are helping us. Absolutely, he deserves some credit.

JD: Will you include Duke in this Fenway Magic thing?

LL: Boy you are thinking, Dan seems to have a full plate right now…. Fenway Magic: Come in on Father’s Day, folks would come in and have the opportunity to watch the game on the big board and play catch on field. There’s something All-American about that, let’s enjoy it in the outfield at Fenway. Just something we want to do to reach out to fans and develop a warmer relationship with them.

Under the Fenway Magic banner, we’ll do additional things. Things during the away games. Increase tours, back of the house. Number of things in the second half of the season.

JD: Seats on top of Wall. Does that indicate leaning toward staying in Fenway?

LL: There is confusion out there. Two things going on:
1.        Trying to make some immediate improvements, e.g. dugout, concessions, more handicapped seating, roof seats.
2.        Research and exploration of long-term renovation.

Even if we were to move, we’re going to be several years away. We want to make Fenway more comfortable in meantime. The issue of renovation is still at earliest stages. Let’s see what kinds of answers we have from structural engineers, those are coming soon… Wall seats are simply an idea that has been floated around. We wouldn’t consider until next year. It’s just part of the immediate improvement plan.

GC: Just let people sit on the Wall, sign a waiver, and have them climb the ladder.

LL: Um, I’m not sure. JD: How much? LL: Wait, you’re jumping the gun, we’re just talking about it now. For next year, we haven’t set a price but I agree, they will be great seats. I like standing room, I’m a big standing room fan, and we’d like to have an area where some people could stand.

GC: In San Diego, did you that know Caminiti was on steroids?

LL: Absolutely not. Did we have suspicions that some players were on them. Yes. This is wrong. Time for a change. There’s a predicate for testing now. Widespread suspicion. Time to adoption NFL and NBA testing procedures. Our Players Association is back in the dark ages. There are more important financial things, but this pretty important.

Only a few issues on the table:

1.        Salary tax, restraint of the escalation of salaries
2.        Revenue sharing component. Having competitive balance.
3.        The worldwide draft issues
4.        Steroids and drug testing

Those are the top four issues.

GC: Caminiti was your MVP, helped win you a division title.

LL: It was clearly his team in 1996, you know how someone always emerges as the leader… it was Caminiti’s team, but no one was aware this was happening.

JD: Since Sports Illustrated issue on steroids came out, do you watch ESPN highlights with a different skepticism. If you were a clean player, wouldn’t you stand up and say test me?

LL: Yes it’s incumbent upon the players to address this. Say testing is appropriate, not an invasion into privacy. A predicate exists for this type of testing. The number is impossible to know. Personal safety and integrity of the game are at stake.

GC: Disappointed at Nomar with his ACLU jive “we won’t be able to take Advil?”

LL: We’ll I’m never disappointed in Nomar. It’s just the standard Player’s Association line, consistent with PA position.

Email questions:

JD: JanfromWellesley, Larry your take on suggestion by Murray Chass, in today’s NYT, your paper, about stopping teams with the six highest payrolls from claiming players at the trading deadline, doing any deals. They can move within their own organization, but can’t go outside for help.

LL: No probably won’t work. I don’t like teams renting players, changes course of season to be sure. It would have to be more like a blanket prohibition on it rather than penalize certain teams. Also helps teams out of contention to replenish farm. Young prospects. Bagwell trade helped struggling team get a mainstay star. Yankees have always been the most aggressive at that kind of midseason addition. Very few do make that much of a difference.

We traded Boddicker to the Red Sox in the 80s. They got some immediate impact for a few years, but we got a couple of guys named Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling.

LL: I have a question for you two... Inter-league play begins this weekend. Are you in favor of it or opposed to it?

GC: In favor, just don’t drag the Expos back here. LL: we got stuck in a gear with East vs. East year to year that was not the idea. E vs. E year to year. GC: Bring on the D-backs, what’s the alternative? More Baltimore’s? You can’t play the Yankees everyday.

JD: (my email question, sent in last week though) You mentioned last week that you were not concerned "yet" about Manny being away from the team. Now that he has missed two consecutive Boston doctor appointments, and Jeff Moorad appears to be calling the shots here, are you concerned that Manny is not with his team in the Bronx as Mike Port had promised?

LL: Mike didn’t promise that, but no that wouldn’t be the case. Moorad is not in charge. Agents do not run the baseball team. They’re there to have a constructive relationship. They are hardly in charge. I’m not concerned. Doctors are not concerned. Manny will be here today I think for an exam. The Doctors will tell us if he goes back to Florida for hand therapy, etc.

GC: Who’s Manny?

LL: Good point. We’ve done well without, but we’ll be infinitely stronger addition. Talk about mid-season acquisitions, we’ve got Manny Ramirez and a guy named Dustin Hermanson who we’ve got a spot for. That’s a pretty good midseason acquisition.

JD: (my email question, again from last week when Lucky postponed) If you want people to by $6.00 beers and $4.00 hot dogs, could you put more than ONE 1989-version of a Fleet ATM in the park? The line is embarrassing and there is plenty of room for more small ATMs. - More than one?

LL: He’s right. We have two in the ballpark, but it’s not enough. I hate to see those lines. We have great banking partners in Fleet. We like these guys. We have asked them for two or three more. Should be in there for the second half.

GC: Who is your MVP, will it be Duke, and will he be on the float?

LL: Haa. Not going to pick a player yet. We’re what, one game past the quarter mark. You know obvious candidates. Grady Little is my MVP right now. And the bench, let’s celebrate the bench, not just the star players.

JD: Big game Saturday, all eyes on Pedro’s health.

LL: Sure have to play close attention until the manager is concerned or the doctor is concerned. No problem now. My mom is coming up for that game.

GC: Is she going to sit on the Wall or in the dugout seats?

LL: Oh, she’s going to have to deal with the scalpers.

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