Cheap beer isn't answer - Bradley Jr. is

Cheap beer isn't answer - Bradley Jr. is
March 28, 2013, 12:00 pm
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The Boston Red Sox still don’t get it.  Ownership knows that the sellout streak is on life support.  Unfortunately their latest attempt to resuscitate it, reduced prices on concessions for the month of April, shows that they are still oblivious to what their fans expect when they buy a ticket.

Red Sox fans don’t come to a Red Sox game to eat food or drink beer.

Red Sox fans don’t come to a Red Sox game to see plaques or buy bricks.

Red Sox fans don’t come to a Red Sox game to be part of some fabricated anniversary celebration.

Attention Ownership! BREAKING NEWS! Red Sox fans come to a Red Sox game to watch the Red Sox play baseball and win games!

Everything else is an ancillary benefit to fans or, in the case of the plaques and bricks, a necessary evil to monetize the ballpark and draw in fringe customers.  Sox fans used to come to Fenway to see an elite team compete for a championship but after the collapse of 2011 and last season’s dumpster fire, we’ve been forced to lower our standards, for now.  But ultimately, it’s winning baseball we come to see.

And here is the sad thing.  Sox ownership is still so obsessed with the bottom line, they don’t see a real solution right in front of them.  Forget five-dollar beer and two-for-one hot dogs. You know what would draw Red Sox fans, and baseball fans in general, to the park in April? A rookie sensation that is tearing up spring training.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is just the kind of “attraction” that would draw Sox fans back into Tom Werner’ theme park, but for contractual reasons, he might start the season in Pawtucket.

Now normally, I don’t mind contractual hardball.  And I especially don’t mind when it’s Scott Boras at the receiving end of administrative chin music.  But with the way this kid is playing, Ortiz not being anywhere near ready and with Ellsbury poised to turn another minor injury into a season of House, how can he not start on the roster?  There will be opportunities to send him down later when these guys get healthy or if he slumps a bit.  And if he doesn’t slump and this team ends up in a pennant race, what’s the problem?  You’ll be “selling” tickets like the good old days because, Shocker, Red Sox fans want to see the Red Sox win baseball games!

Now if Bradley starts the season in Pawtucket, ownership gains an additional year of control with Bradley.  Unfortunately it could cost them more than just a couple of games.  It might once again lose the team currently in the clubhouse.

If the fans can see how obsessed with the bottom line ownership is, don’t you think the team is well aware of it?  The players know this chapter and verse first hand.  How many of them have had ownership negotiate injury clauses into their deals?  They sure as hell saw the way ownership hooked Mike Napoli in the opening stages of free agency with the promise of a three year $39 million dollar deal, only to have team doctors go over him like rabid insurance adjusters, kill his value on the open market and force him to sign a one-year deal.  If a player's under contract, team doctors might not be able to read an X-Ray correctly, but if he’s about to sign on the dotted line, they can find avascular necrosis faster than you can Google it.

And you can bet everyone in that clubhouse is watching what ownership does in regards to team mascot/DH David Ortiz.  Ortiz is in the eighth month of recovery from what was supposed to be a minor Achilles tendon injury.  He could have been forced to stay here and play for the one year tender or walk and find a better deal.  Yet the still lame Ortiz was re-signed to a sweetheart deal.  Now while Napoli has been hitting shots that get picked up on radar, Ortiz’s aliment is being referred to as a “heel” injury, ostensibly to keep contract incentives related to the Achilles, in play.  You want to gut a clubhouse?  Let a team know the front office values the bottom line over winning.  You want to lose them even faster?  Let ownership give Big Gimpy special treatment so ludicrous that “double standard” fails to adequately describe it.

I know in the past I have openly rooted for this team to suffer the kind of come to Jesus catastrophe that forces a polar shift in the way ownership does business.  I hope that last season would be enough to snap Henry, Lucchino, Werner and the Theo-bot to reality. But now I want this team to get back to the business of winning games.  I have been so encouraged by this team’s spring that I think middle of the pack in the AL East predictions for them is setting the bar too low.

I think the Red Sox can win the division, but only if team ownership lets it.

I’ll foot the bill for my kids food if I can tell them we’re going to see Jackie Bradley Jr.  If it means the difference between a trade deadline acquisition that puts the team over the luxury tax threshold, I’ll pay full price for two hotdogs.  If paying $8.50 for a watered down beer will fund the research and development of a Bane mask that will pump Toradol into Jacoby Ellsbury 24/7 and keep him on the field through cramps and hangnails, sign me up for a 30 rack.  I’ll even watch reruns of Sox Appeal if it means ownership will finally understand the one thing fans demand from them.

When fans come to the ball park, they are paying to see the Red Sox win games.  And in April, when Sox fans to come to Fenway, they expect to see Jackie Bradley Jr.