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.