Monthly Archives: March 2013

In honor of the newly appointed Pope Francis, a history of Franks to don the Red Sox uniform

MalzoneFrank Malzone (1955-1965) – A member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame and recognized by most as one of the top 50 players in franchise history, Malzone continues to serve as a player development consultant for Boston at age 83. He ought to be recognized for his devoted, undying, Pesky-like commitment to the team. It’s too late to decree that a foul pole be named after him, but “Pope Malzone” does actually have a certain ring to it…

ViolaFrank Viola (1992-1994) – As someone with an appreciation for the mystical and unexplained, Frankie V was known to change gloves during the middle of the game if he felt like karmic influences (or just the umpires) were against him. Judging by how chummy he looks hanging with Roger Clemens, Viola’s paranoia was understandable.

Rodriguez

Frankie Rodriguez (1995) – Highly touted as a shortstop, Rodriguez was a second-round pick in 1990 and was later converted to a pitcher. He was ranked No. 9 by Baseball America going into 1992 and started two games for Boston in 1995 before going to the Twins. He pitched almost 200 innings for Pawtucket in 1994, helping fans get through some tough times while the major league players were on strike.

Castillo

Frank Castillo (2001-2004) – Probably would have to be classified as a bit too crafty for the Vatican’s liking, the veteran right-hander featured a fastball that would barely have a skittish little leaguer bailing out of a batter’s box if it were to slip away from him. It was downright sinful that professional hitters ever allowed his 85-mph fastballs to set them up for well-placed off-speed junk. Castillo did pitch one inning for the blessed 2004 World Series champs. So, um, a little respect, please.

Morales

Franklin Morales (2011-present) – Like Viola, he throws left-handed so both Morales and Frankie V may be slightly delayed at ol’ St. Peter’s Gate. But ultimately, if Morales can somehow provide the Red Sox with a much coveted swingman who can both start and/or pitch out of the bullpen, that would be pretty divine.

O'Rourke

Also: Frank Arellanes, Frank Barberich, Frank Barrett, Frank Baumann, Frank Bennett, Frank Bushey, Frank Duffy, Frank Foreman, Frank Fuller, Frank Gilhooley, Frankie Hayes, Frank LaPorte, Frank Morrissey, Frank Mulroney, Frank O’Rourke – 1922 (pictured), Frank Oberlin, Frankie Pytlak, Frank Quinn, Frank Smith, Frank Sullivan, Frank Tanana, Frank Truesdale and Frank Welch.

Fenway Franks

And, of course, a tip of the cap must go to the immortal Fenway Frank, despite its sinfully phallic shape and the questionable morality associated with industrial-sized vessels that squirt gobs of mustard and relish.

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Good-natured newcomer Shane Victorino anxious to be dressed down by hard-assed Boston media

Favorable press is nice, sometimes, but unabashed gushing can beleaguer a major league ballplayer just as easily as vitriolic barbs from Boston’s talented stable of provocateurs.

That is the Number One Reason why Shane Victorino is excited to be a Red Sox.

Shane

Unlike Carl Crawford, new Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino is ready to take on some serious abuse from local media this season (Photo from Midweek.com).

Speaking at the team’s spring training facility earlier this week, Boston’s newly signed switch-hitting outfielder expressed enthusiasm for what he expects to be a miserable first year in town trying to win over a by-and-large skeptical, provincial fellowship of bitter white dudes.

“In Philly all those years and then in LA for part of last year, it was like a honeymoon. The media was just kind of indifferent toward me. It was infuriating that they were so affectionate all the time. Calling me the ‘Flyin’ Hawaiian’ and applauding my non-stop hustle. Fuck, that got old.”

After signing a 3-year, $39m deal to play in Boston, Victorino suspects those days are in the past.

“I sure hope so,” he said. “I can’t wait for my first 0-for-5 game. I hope it comes early on in the season so we can get the hand-wringing going right out of the gate. Seriously, the press is even crapping on David Ortiz for not playing in spring training games after rupturing his Achilles last year. I mean, David Ortiz! The guy won two World Series and is a fan icon…”

Asked about any other character flaws that might be gradually introduced into columnists’ rip-jobs, Victorino did not shy away from offering up some nuggets that will undoubtedly be filed away for later use.

“Let’s see. I don’t participate in charitable endeavors as much as I could. My back is kind of sore. I don’t mind video games. I’m not going to hit 30 home runs or have 100 RBI. I hate Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. I’m not Caucasian. And oh yeah, $39 million is a lot of money, but I’ll be honest with you guys: I don’t even really need all of it.”

Re: The April 10 Fenway Sellout Streak Doomsday, Red Sox in creative manipulation mode

Last month, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino publicly acknowledged that the Red Sox are experiencing a lull in popularity for a variety of reasons. Competitive cyclicality, roster turnover, and market saturation, to name a few.

But another explanation for the decline in demand for ticket sales for Fenway Park in 2013 is the team’s surprisingly arrogant attitude toward the true value of live baseball, which is as fluid a commodity as a block of gold, a gallon of gasoline or corn futures. The Boston Globe recently tackled the organization’s seeming indifference toward fleeing season ticket-holders who have declined to renew their accounts for 2013.

Meanwhile, the club has become equally as complacent in its handling of patrons interested in purchasing single game ticket purchases.

The team’s Double Play Pax promotion is a good case in point. On the surface, the Double Play Pax idea seems to be a smart attempt to convince Red Sox fans to purchase seats for less popular games (see the box below, right) by offering a crack at tickets to more desirable games (mainly, the rights to buy Sox-Yankees tickets). In exchange for their purchases of early season duds, fans double-down on a marquee game (as defined by the club in the list below, left).

DP Pax

Now, here is the catch: There is no actual price reduction offered.

The below scenario becomes a likely result for people exploring Double Play Pax options on RedSox.com’s virtual ticket purchasing window:

Angels

Not visible in the screen grab above: “You, loyal Red Sox fan, are welcome to pay full price for these seats in Row 48 (Dunkin’ Dugout territory!) of the bleachers for a blue-chip match-up against Mike Trout’s Anaheim Angels. In exchange, here’s two more bleacher seats that are only 26 rows from the field – and more than twice the price – for a game that we have already identified quite publicly as a far cry from Pedro vs. Clemens circa 1999.”

Rather than addressing dwindling demand for less popular games by creating a tiered ticket pricing system as many professional teams do, or creating some free giveaways*, the Red Sox have decided to manipulate fans’ perception of present demand.

*Via a FanGraphs correspondent Zac Hinz, 27 MLB teams have a total of over 600 gameday promotions planned for the 2013 season, including bobbleheads, posters, photos, magnetic schedules, etc. The Red Sox have none. Maybe it’s just us, but giving the first 10,000 fans some cheap trinket is a time-honored baseball tradition and, if nothing else, it probably feels a little less sleazy than a team drumming up ticket sales by preying upon the stupidity and reluctance of the general public to sit down and do some simple math.

The team is in essence telling people already wary of purchasing tickets for one, solitary Red Sox game that the opportunity cost of buying tickets for an additional game ought to provide the ample rationale to hand over the additional money.

It is akin to infamous ploys by cable providers such as Comcast and Verizon in which subscribers are bullied into paying extra money for “bundle” packages that include unwanted add-ons like landline telephones simply because it is the only way to get HBO or Showtime at any price that might approach reasonable. Or, if you’re 85 years old, it is akin to robbing Peter of $20, hitting Paul in the face with a sock filled with 1,000 pennies and then giving Mary and Joseph upper bleacher seats for a late April game that starts at 6:30 p.m. against the AAAA-caliber Houston Astros.

So while the much-maligned, much-publicized sellout “streak” will almost certainly come to its merciful end sometime during the 2013 season, the team’s sales strategy this winter ought to absorb as much of the blame as any of the less tangible factors being tossed out there anecdotally, such as local fatigue for baseball; misguided talk of a “bridge year;” or the exaggerated wake of destruction left behind by Bobby Valentine.