Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fans Tired of the "Moneyball" In Boston...

So, I was watching Moneyball on cable this weekend, and between reliving that piece of recent history, and witnessing the current turmoil surrounding the Red Sox, I got to thinkin'. If things had happened differently, and Billy Beane had taken the job to be the next Red Sox GM, would he still hold the position? Rather quickly I came to my answer, and it was a resounding NO. Whether the Sox had won multiple championships under his watch OR if the curse of the Bambino had simply continued. Either way, the Moneyball maestro would, like Epstein, already be out the door. Why? The same reason that Theo left. Not to "pursue new challenges" outside of Boston, but to escape an ownership group that's more concerned with selling merchandise and catering to families than they are with actually putting a great product on the field. This is a baseball team, after all, and I think we've arrived at the point where most fans have discovered that ownership no longer views it that way. They view it as a business, and between a series of PR blunders and diminished performance on the field, it appears that fans are finally sick of their brand of "Moneyball". I know I am...

The Ownership. That's where the problem lies, and why people like Ty, a good friend of mine, have started up websites like Fans get that baseball is a business, it's just they don't wanna be reminded of that every 5 minutes. They want it to stay a game, if only in their mind, and they want their teams to be run like a team, not like a Fortune 500 company. It may seem like I'm splitting hairs, I know, but this was a fine line current ownership was able to balance on so elegantly when they first arrived, yet one that has long since been blurred and erased with the invention of the pink hats. Both literally and figuratively...

See, for me, that's where the problem starts. I know I joke about the "PinkHats" a lot, but it's the "pink hat" itself that started a dangerous trend. The trend of trying to appeal to everyone, to bring in new fans from all across seemingly untapped demographics. A fine tactic for a business trying to sell a fledgling product, but simply overkill for an already astoundingly popular product with a track record for success. They cleaned up the building, and pumped money into the team, no problems there, but in attempting to expand their viewer base, ownership has simply gone too far, turning Fenway Park into a Disney World type attraction for all the wrong reasons. The place should be friendly, yes, but not so friendly that you can't toss out the occasional cuss word without fear of being ejected from the premises. Hey, it's professional baseball, not the screening of the latest Shrek movie. Yeah, I know the 1st baseman looks like Shrek, but still. It's an adult event, full of adult beverages, and the atmosphere should reflect that rather than giving off the feeling like you just stepped into the food court at your local mall, where there just so happens to be a baseball game going on...

That's been my beef with this group since right around 2006. They're just too ambitious for my liking. I know, I know. Capitalism and whatnot, and "as long as they spend the money on the team" etc etc, but at some point you lose the forest through the trees. The forest, in this example, being the actual baseball team. Some will say that they have too much on their plate with the rapidly expanding, Fenway Sports Group, but no matter what the reason, it seems they've long since forgotten what it was they actually came here to do. Unless, of course, their intent all along was to build a brand, and not win as many World Series Titles as humanly possible. Which at this point is looking like a distinct possibility...

I'll tell you one guy who's definitely not in charge...
I find it easiest to look at it this way. Right now, the Red Sox are just a spoke on the wheel known as the Fenway Sports Group. And as a Red Sox fan, that's just not good enough for me. I mean, I can accept that they're part of a bigger business venture, but if that's the case, I need to know that at the very least that there is someone over at FSG that is accountable for all the things done by the Boston Red Sox. Accountability. Team on the field sucks? I wanna know who to blame. Fenway looks like shit? I wanna know who to chew out. But we don't know, and that's what's making this an even sticker situation. Ben Cherington? Yeah, he's in charge just like I'm a Pulitzer Prize winner. Only in our minds. Larry Lucchino? He only seems to be in charge when it suits him. John Henry? Tom Werner? They repeatedly make it clear that they know less about this team than the average fan. So who's in charge? In the end, it doesn't really matter, just the fact that we have to ask the question is reason enough to be greatly concerned...

And hey, trust me when I tell you that the team's rough start is not totally to blame for this seemingly reactionary stance against ownership. It doesn't help, I'll give you that, but it's more the straw that broke the camel's back than it is the spark that started the fire. It's just the latest example of, when times are good, these guys are great, but when adversity comes knocking, they look inept and inexperienced. Combine that with the fact that they've spent the greater part of the last decade bastardizing an already beloved product, and you can see why fans such as myself are just a tad bit upset...

I'll be the first one to tell you that winning will change everything, and it will. All of these perceptions will be forgotten in the wake of another deep playoff run, I understand that. But even if that success does come to pass, it still won't change one very disturbing fact. That until this ownership group straightens up, or leaves town, the Boston Red Sox will merely be a valuable asset on their ledger sheet, as opposed to a top tier baseball team feared as much for it's prominence as it is for it's dedication to winning. Business or not, the latter should be true. And until it becomes clear that that is indeed ownership's vision, excuse me if I don't have the most faith in the immediate future...

This guy had the right idea...
Now if you excuse me, I have to go gorilla suit shopping with Ben Cherington. I don't know, he said somethin' about a jungle themed costume party. I believe it's out of town...

Teddy Williams...


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