Remember a few months ago when an announcement by the Red Sox to move the rest of its televised games – which it owns, by the way – to NESN threw The CHB into conniptions? He called the move “elitist, classist, and probably greedy, too. The Sox are putting all their games on NESN because it means more money for the organization." (He then never raised the subject again, of course, adding fuel to the belief that he didn’t really care about the fans so much as he wanted to stir things up.)
That’s instructive, because today he says Fenway has never looked better.
That may be so. But Shaughnessy downplays the biggest issue for fans – the expense of attending games. He tries to write that off, arguing that “the Sox have more demand than supply and they're trying to compete with a team that doesn't blush at a $200 million player payroll.”
Let’s get this straight: The team drains money into an ancient, uncomfortable venue and Dan finds the results “spectacular.” The Sox decide to use an outlet they own in order to raise revenues and they are “greedy.”
Oh, yeah. Near the end – the third to last paragraph to be exact – he lays out the park’s warts: obstructed views, narrow seats, seats that face the wrong way, lack of parking, and yes, the cost. (Given how he minimizes that latter element, he might as well have left it out altogether.)
All of which misses the point. Fenway Park has been selling out for years, even before all the modifications. All the while, it's the fan experience that continues to be compromised. On the issue of cost, I don’t personally hold the owners accountable so much as I do the scalpers (and the city, which looks the other way). But that fact remains that in some towns – Baltimore, for one – scalping laws are enforced to the hilt – and face value means face value. To enter Fenway even for the least desirable games of the season means ponying up five or more times the face value of the ticket – none of which goes to the team. That's the situation that deserves a column. Heck, it deserves a series.
Dan has proclaimed the beauty of the new parks in San Francisco, Baltimore, San Diego, demonstrating that even the black hole that makes up the space between his ears can spit out the notion that starting over is often better than a new tube of lipstick. He even spends a good chunk of today's column lauding the work of the Larry Lucchino-led team that has had such an impact on the face of baseball around the country (he calls architect Janet Marie Smith "the godmother of modern baseball stadiums"). Yet he continues to wax nostalgic about a place that has truly outlived its usefulness. Why? Because he doesn’t feel the effects. Even as he cracks wise about blowing up the press box, he ignores the uncomfortable hypocrisy: those seats are 1) better than almost any other within the not-so-Friendly Confines and 2) free.
Boston needs a new park. If not now, when? If anything, "greedy" defines owners who refuse to build an appropriate venue without it being underwritten by the tax base.
Theo watch: “Larry Lucchino, a pinata for nitwit nation, isn't likely to get many bouquets from Sox fans who still blame him for the weird (and temporary) departure of general manager Theo Epstein ….” No Dan, we blame you.
About that $200 million payroll ...: The past five World Series winners, in reverse chronological order: White Sox, Red Sox, Marlins, Angels, Diamondbacks. Is it possible that maybe all the obsessing over the Yankees' payroll is just a bit overblown?