Today will be a tough one. I’m back at work after a week off and I’ll be outside with cows all morning. It’s 12 degrees out there. (I’m wearing a union suit…) I should be grateful, I know. 12 degrees isn’t so bad for January 2 in Vermont.
Two significant things have happened since the last post. The first: I re-upped my Red Sox season tickets. The letter came in the mail; I logged onto the website; I punched in my card info; and poof- I’m a 9-year season ticket holder. I’m a season ticket holder that is allegedly boycotting the team. I’m a season ticket holder that has declared allegiance to the Pittsburgh Pirates. To be sure, I’m a confused hypocrite of a season ticket holder. Now for the uncomfortable rationalization…
I figure I have two options if I want to save any dignity and/or self-respect in this process. The first would be the most noble. I could easily make my seats available at (or below!) cost to Red Sox fans. After all, I’m not upset with fans. I’m upset with ownership. I could undercut their showy marketing strategies by filling my two seats with baseball fans – you know, longtime scorekeepers, glove-toting little league dreamers, and old Red Sox friends just catching up over 9 innings. That could be my 2 ticket protest in action! I would feel good about that. My 0.005% share of Fenway Park would be pure.
The problem with option 1 is that I don’t think I know enough people that could make it to the park every night. I live about 4 1/2 hours from Boston (as do most of my friends) and I’m not interested in turning this endeavor into a second job – especially if I’m not getting paid for it (in cash…)
Which brings me to option 2. The secondary market for Sox tickets in ridiculous. The woman next to me at game one of the ’04 World Series paid 20x face to watch horrendous baseball obstructed by 10,000 homemade signs about dead grandparents. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’d have paid an excess to get into that game if I had to – but the mark-up at Fenway is truly impressive. And, as noted on this very blog, the Red Sox have somehow found a way to (legally?) capitalize on a double-profit scheme in light of the high demand for seats. So option 2 involves me taking my share of the pie. Option 2 is getting as much money as I can, while I can. Option 2 is me willfully becoming part of the problem. It’s feeding the machine that keeps these tickets at a premium. It’s taking tickets out of the hands of working class fans and families and putting them into the hands of those that can pay the most.
Option 2 is sickening if I think about it too much. So I can’t think about it too much. Except I’m not built for not thinking about things too much. It’s what I do. I think too much. And thanks to that obsessive nature of mine, I’ve come up with a way to take the edge off of my hypocrisy. I’ve developed a Robin Hood complex. I’ll take all I can from these rich (often corporate), ignorant, scene-seeking lemmings. And I’ll give to the baseball-rich, but cash-poor Pirates (and/or their fans)! Kind of a stretch when it comes to developing an internally consistent life philosophy, but I guess it’ll have to do…
My first experience with option 2 is the second of two significant events since the last blog post. With money I’ve already pulled in from 2012 Sox tickets, I purchased the Pirates Prospects 2012 Prospect Guide! What a piece of work! The detail and thorough attention each prospect receives by Tim Williams is telling. While some might attempt to trivialize this work by saying that it reveals a focus on the minor leagues that only two decades of major league failure can produce, I’d like to think it offers much, much more. It reveals the priorities of an organization in transition. It offers an expert blend of new-age statistical analysis with an old-school take on what you see on the diamond (‘live arm’, mph, 12-to-6, and ‘projectable frames’!). It pulls the foil off the fakers and gives you the skinny on the shakers. If I may be open with you, it’s already given me daily toilet reading (sometimes twice!) since it arrived in my mailbox. While Williams goes out of his way to repeat the disclaimer that it is rare for 1st round picks to truly meet or beat their potential, I can’t help envisioning the perfect outcomes. I can’t help seeing the ‘4 Aces’ crowding each other out of playoff starts.
The Prospect Guide has also given me a little uncomfortable insight to my own bent baseball priorities. When I read the write-up on Yamaico Navarro, I cringed. He’s number 15 on the big list – a shortstop moving to third with a little pop. After the Pirates picked him up, I was asked on Twitter what I thought of him as he was coming to Pittsburgh from the Red Sox. My response was dismissive: “not much of an opinion. never considered a prospect. had no future in boston- utility guy. i think he hit a HR once, though”. With that, I confessed my Boston arrogance. I unearthed my bias that players are nothing if they aren’t going to displace a starter within a year or two. Real prospects have names like Jon Lester, Nomar Garciaparra, and Brian Rose – not Yamaico Navarro. A ‘prospect’ has the prospect of playing in the All Star game – not simply making the 25-man roster.
The 2012 Prospect Guide has opened my mind (and my inner fan) to the real story behind all these names. Each one plays a part in the bigger plan – whether it be to fill out a single-A bullpen to push a borderline guy to press for a promotion, or, to be the possible face-of-the-franchise for years to come. All of the 250+ players described in the Guide are critical pieces to the puzzle. Tim Williams does an expert job at communicating that message. It is a work that ultimately brings fans together. It is undeniable hope in the face of an uncertain future (and potentially dismal present). It is a must-buy for any self-respecting Pirates fan. The Prosepct Guide is a true baseball treasure.