Economy & Business
3:49 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Chairman Tom Werner on the Red Sox, MLB Commissioner, Performance Enhancers & Soccer

Major League Baseball’s playoffs are underway and so is the search for the next commissioner of baseball.

Boston Red Sox batter completing swing at Fenway Park.
Credit Lou Jones, Getty Images

Lake Effect's Mitch Teich interviews Tom Werner.

Current commissioner and former Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig made it official last week when he announced that next season will be his last at the helm of the Major Leagues.

He’ll leave the sport at a time when attendance is strong, but also, as the game is troubled by the use of performance-enhancing drugs.  Brewers star Ryan Braun served out a suspension this season for ties to a shady clinic in Florida.

One of the sport’s financial giants is the Boston Red Sox, who will open the playoffs tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox surprised many by finishing with the best record in baseball.

Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner was in Milwaukee this week to speak at Marquette’s annual Business Leaders Forum.

Boston Red Sox

This past year, the Red Sox were a success, winning 97 games. Werner says that teamwork and creativity are key components, while also putting the fans first.

“You are in a very competitive entertainment world, where you are fighting for their every dollar, their attention, for their heart,” says Werner. “And the one thing that I think is true is that you’ve got to have an excellent product.”

To reconnect with their fan base, the team decided to grow beards as part of their “Fun, Sweat, and Beards” campaign. It was something that they could grow organically and they could connect with their fans, many of whom grew beards right along with the players.

Commissioner

Current Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced that he is stepping down from the position, allowing another person to step in. Werner says that he made great progress in his tenure, focusing on business and cracking down on performance-enhancing drugs.

What the MLB is looking for in a new commissioner is someone who can successfully bring owners together, like Selig was able to do. Team owners have their own agendas and the commissioner needs to be able to consider their agenda and to guide them so that their plans can work with each other.

Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Werner says that the MLB has the most rigorous testing system for performance-enhancing drugs out of all the sports, but there are still a few players that slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, these situations have tainted the old American pastime. When asked if he is concerned that one of the Boston Red Sox players is using or will use these drugs, Werner said that the players need to be “self-policing.”

Baseball versus Soccer

Werner is also the Chairman for the Liverpool Football League, a position he took in 2010. He says that both sports have a very loyal fan base. Although soccer is a global sport, Werner takes what he learns from managing one team and brings it to the other.

Soccer teams play in multiple leagues and each team faces relegation. Werner suggests that relegation may be an interesting option for baseball teams because then it would force them to be more competitive.

Tom Werner has been the Boston Red Sox Chairman since 2002 and the Chairman for the Liverpool Football League since 2010. He was in Milwaukee to speak at Marquette University.