WEEI is where to go to hear Boston Red Sox games on the radio. It’s been that way for most years since 1995, and it will continue to be that way through 2023. Despite the partnership, the team can still acknowledge that the radio station encourages some terrible people.
Since Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said that a fan at Fenway called him the N-word in May, the team has presented the notion that it’ll be cracking down on hateful behavior at the park. Team president Sam Kennedy said this in May:
“I can tell you, when [the current Red Sox ownership group] arrived in 2002, I think one of the most important things with John Henry, [chairman] Tom Werner and [former president] Larry Lucchino did was acknowledge the shameful past of the Boston Red Sox,” Kennedy said. “There’s a reputation of maybe not being the most friendly and hospitable environment, and we’ve worked really hard to change that. We want to open Fenway Park to everyone. Everyone should feel comfortable at Fenway Park, no matter your race, your religion, political beliefs, sexual [orientation], you are all welcome at Fenway.”
Britni de la Cretaz’s feature on DigBoston dove into the racist history of Boston baseball. While the article covered a lot of the well-known lowlights, it seemed somewhat significant in that de la Cretaz achieved the goal of getting a team spokesperson to admit that some of WEEI’s opinions are “offensive and out of line.”
In an email statement provided to DigBoston, a spokesperson for the Red Sox said that they have no control over the content of the chatter on the station and that their influence is limited to the content of the game broadcast, including pregame and postgame shows.
“None of the opinions or sentiments expressed on WEEI or any of the 57 radio affiliates throughout New England are those of the Boston Red Sox,” said Zineb Curran, senior director of corporate communications for the Red Sox. “We understand the frustration of those who feel the opinions expressed are offensive and out of line. At times, we feel the same way.”
Though the specific bad takes aren’t named, WEEI’s leading programming dedicates time to going after women, people of color, and other groups. It’s not like these groups are exempt from criticism, but saying Erin Andrews is bad at her job is different than calling her a “gutless bitch.” For a more recent example, take how Kirk and Callahan handled de la Cretaz’s criticism: Host Kirk Minihane was mad that the author blocked him on Twitter, so he put her on blast.
It’s likely for the best that the Red Sox don’t interfere with the opinions of their partner, because it means a business deal isn’t affecting the output of a media outlet. In that respect, the boundaries are staying in place. At the same time, when Kennedy talks about a future where Fenway Park is welcome to everyone, that’s a nice ideal to strive toward, but it somewhat undercuts the Red Sox’s goal when they associate with radio hosts whose shtick is siccing the goons on anyone who points out that New England’s racial relations could use some improvement. The team also offers up its coaches and players for interviews on the station as a result of the partnership, so even if it means something that the Red Sox gave a soft public scolding to WEEI, it doesn’t mean enough to stop doing business with them.