December 1, 2012

Dear John W. Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Tom Werner,

I started following (really following) the Red Sox in 1983, at the age of 9.  It started on the radio.  Whether I was playing catch in the yard or listening through a blanket-wrapped clock radio under my pillow during a west-coast road trip, I let the voices of Ken Coleman and Joe Castiglione paint my imagination with lofty Green Monster home runs and the day-to-day historical farewell tour of Carl Yastrzemski.  I learned how to read box scores and clipped them out daily to reconstruct the events of the night before.

Needless to say, I was hooked.   Soon, the coin, stamp and card shop around the corner earned every dime of my allowance.   I didn’t care if I was buying a worn-smooth Dick Radatz rookie card or a 1982 Chuck Rainey, as long as the Red Sox logo was printed somewhere on that picture I was buying it.  I went to my first game in September of that season:  a 6-2 win over the White Sox.  Bruce Hurst pitched a complete game despite giving up a long Ron Kittle home run to left.  My family sat in the right field boxes.  Yaz sat with a lefty starting for Chicago.  Reid Nichols played instead.

My relationship with the Red Sox grew.  1986 was, well… 1986.  That was my generation’s initiation to the club.  I don’t think the word ‘curse’ had entered the vocabulary yet, and ‘Red Sox Nation’ was a long ways off.  But there was a tangible camaraderie amongst Sox fans that was already bound with trauma and tragedy.  The championship drought was only 68 years at that point, but the frustration was real.  The feelings I heard from neighbors connected to 1978 (and beyond) started to become my own when Calvin Schiraldi, Bob Stanley, and Bill Buckner conspired to sink the spirits of Sox fans yet again.

The team lost me a bit after 1992.  But I moved to northern Ohio and learned what it was like to live behind enemy lines.  Albert Belle’s biceps and all that nonsense reminded me what it meant to wear the colors.  The Yankees resurgence later that decade did more of the same.  And with the rumors of Fenway Park’s imminent demise, I started going to games again when I moved back to New England.

Fast forward a bit and I found myself scouring the internet for 2003 ALDS playoff tickets.  I had purchased the 4-game Sox Pax for a few years (remember when you could just clip the form out of the Globe and send it in?  Of course not – you guys aren’t from around here…) and the pull to see October baseball in Fenway was too much.  So I dropped $300 on two upper bleachers and watched Trot hit a walk-off in the 11th.  A week or two later I was in Yankee Stadium to see Aaron Boone hit another walk-off in extras.

Needless to say, I was hooked again.  Two months later I purchased season tickets.  The very same seats you’ve offered me the opportunity to buy again.  In December of 2003, I think the bill was roughly $2,900.  Today it’s… well you know what it is – it’s a little over $4,200. (That’s almost 10% of my total family income.)  So I should just mail you the check, right?

I don’t think so…  One year shy of doing this for a full decade, I’m not giving you anymore money.  You messed up.

It’s not the 93 losses last year or the pitiful end to the 2011 season.  I’ve experienced bad teams before.  It’s the other stuff.  It’s all the non-baseball garbage that’s been making mainstream media stories for about a year now.  I’d like to think I was ahead of the curve last October when I publicly renounced my allegiance, but that would just be deriving pride from something far too pathetic.  Your multi-national corporate money grabbing is offensive.  Selling bricks and chairs and membership cards is shameful.  It’s regressive marketing at its worst.  NESN, the mouthpiece of the regime, is nothing more than 24-hour advertising for a product indistinguishable from your diabolical nemesis, the Evil EmpireTM.   You messed up.

You turned the Red Sox into the Yankees.  You turned Fenway Park into a self-congratulatory mess of sponsored additions and promotions.  You hired Bobby Valentine for the sole purpose of dominating local and national news cycles without the burden of fielding a winning team.  You keep mailing out happy souvenirs for each new milestone on your fake sell-out* streak.  The last one I got, it was a baseball for the 700th (I think?) consecutive sell-out*?  It was a lumpy, misshapen embarrassment of a baseball.   And not even a real one.  As I’m sure you’re aware, it was one of those shiny, fake balls made in China – and yes, a lumpy one at that.  You messed up.

You continue to charge the highest ticket prices in baseball.  You continue to milk multi-generational families of Red Sox fans to feed your international headline manufacturing PR machine.  Your narcissistic ego-bloat is sickening.  Winning a championship (or even two… or twenty, for that matter) doesn’t give you the right to ruin a tradition.  It doesn’t give you the right to make New England the target of contempt from sports fans everywhere.  It doesn’t give you the right to rob the soul of a region and sell it back on stupid plastic membership cards.  You messed up.

Needless to say, I’m not buying your tickets.  Some other junkie can pick up your bill.  In case anyone actually read this and you’re wondering… I’m a Pirates fan now.  Read all about it at https://soxdetox.wordpress.com.

Good bye.

Account #264281

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6 thoughts on “My response to the Red Sox season ticket renewal letter

  1. You wrapped up my sentiments exactly! Except I’m a fan of another proud and historic sports franchise they have begun to ruin, Liverpool football club. I’ve been a sox fan since 99 when I spent some time living in Boston and was immediately captivated by a ball club that had the same ethos as my beloved LFC (loyal fans, grit, belief and respect). When I came back to Fenway in September of 2011 for the stretch against the Rays and I could not believe the change. Commercialisation of everything that could be remotely related to the sox and ticket prices that would make you gasp! I talked to a season ticket holder for one of the games and he was disillusioned with the changes that have robbed true loyal fans of their dignity! It reminded me of the shock I feel for what they are doing to LFC… Milking it like a cash cow with little regard for history, tradition, the fans or success. They have applied the moneyball tactic to soccer with disastrous effect! LFC have no player budget (we played a game the other day with no forwards because we only have one and he was suspended), no improvements and have broken every negative record for loss streaks and worst starts to a season in history. I bleed the red of that club and can’t follow another… But my heart is broken by what they are doing in Boston and Liverpool. Unless the owner is a fan (eg Bob Kraft) then there is no hope in the modern age of sports ownership where tradition is a commodity to be priced and loyalty and asset to be bled.

    Sorry about the long paragraph and lack of structure but I’m typing this on a phone! Keep the faith and try rally others! That’s how LFC got rid of their last asset stripping owners and that’s how we’ll get rid of these vultures.

    1. hi
      I anm a producer at WCVB boston. We’re looking for digruntled Red Sox fans to talk to. Did you have season tickets. Are you buying them this year? Please respond

  2. I bet your kicking yourself in the ass for not renewing. But I’ll thank you for not renewing because I happened to become a season ticket holder just this past year and man was it a fun team to watch. Not to mention the fact they won the World Series. You need to understand something, baseball is a business. There is a reason they charge the prices they do, because they can and people will pay it. Unfortunately yes that does price out many fans, but by lowering the price doesn’t mean those less fortunate will necessarily get to go to games, because the rich can still buy up all of those cheaper tickets, sell them to stub hub and then the poor still have to pay high prices. If you can’t afford the tickets thats one thing, but don’t bitch simply because the Sox ownership is raising the prices too high. Its called supply and demand. I can’t afford my whole package of tickets so I share them with friends, I make it work because I love the team and I always want to be a part of them, win or lose. I may not have been born in 1986, but I’ve still watched every pitch of that series. If you expect a good team on the field year in and year out, they will expect to keep making money.

    1. i don’t regret my decision for a second. your attitude is exactly what john henry wants – unconditional spending rationalized by faulty capitalist precepts. good luck with that. i would offer however that free will does indeed exist; and that you were not put on this earth simply to enslave yourself to other people’s oppressive economic constructs.

      oh yeah, almost forgot to add – by many accounts the ’09 yankees were ‘fun to watch’, too.

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