This Week in Boston Baseballing, March 21 – 27

The Red Sox will head north this weekend in preparation for Opening Day in Baltimore on Monday. President Obama will meet with the team the next day to honor the 2013 World Champs. Things are about to get serious.

David Ortiz Might Play Until He’s 57 Years Old…
With the announcement of the latest iteration of a contract extension, the Red Sox and Big Papi have all but guaranteed that he will never wear another team’s uniform as a major league player ever again. The extension, um, extends in theory until 2017 if Ortiz hits certain playing-time escalators. A few years ago, Ortiz wasn’t all that difficult an out for left-handed pitchers. It would have seemed unlikely that Ortiz’s at-bat total had a chance to remain anywhere above 500 as he looked to be evolving into a platoon DH.

However, none other than Adrian Gonzalez has been credited with counseling Ortiz in his approach against southpaws, which is proving to be an important development considering how well Papi has done against lefties the last two seasons. Gonzalez was reported to be a malcontent while he was on the Red Sox and this latest news proves all the conjecture. Knowing the Sox are basically obligated to pay Ortiz as long as he wishes to keep playing, A-Gonz was clearly helping Ortiz out in order to continue to cost the team millions of dollars years even after he went back to the West Coast. Demonic!

Boston Lands Third on Forbes’ MLB Valuation List
Forbes pegs the Red Sox franchise with a current value of $1.5 billion. The Yankees place first at $2.5 billion and the Dodgers are second at $2.0 billion (which also, interestingly enough, matches LA’s projected payroll for the 2017 season at its current rate of growth…). Regional television deals in larger markets are significant factors in many of these numbers, not only for the country’s top TV markets in New York and LA but also in Boston. The Red Sox own an 80% stake in NESN, which significantly aids the team’s value. While ticket demand is on a relative downturn now that the team’s sellout streak has ended, Forbes notes that the Red Sox saw a 14% increase in ratings during the 2013 championship run.

Every Little Thing No Longer Alright in Victorinoland
Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” was a Fenway favorite last year as Shane Victorino’s walk-up at-bat music. However, MLB has now capped hitters’ walk-up music playtimes at a completely un-alright 15 seconds.

On the Sons of Sam Horn message board, “mikey lowell of the sandbox” does seem to offer a feasible answer to the problem:

I see a solution — just leave out the introductory verse and go straight to the sing-along chorus:

Rise up this mornin’,
Smiled with the risin’ sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin’, (“This is my message to you-ou-ou:”)

Singin’: “Don’t worry ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Singin’: “Don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!”

Yes, the team could cut out the first 10 seconds or so of the song, but isn’t the build-up all part of the fun? It seems that no matter what happens, if Shane’s going good, Fenway fans are likely to serenade him during the at-bat even if the song isn’t playing.

The 2014 Red Sox Pocket Schedule
Last year, Fenway Pastoral provided a detailed history of various promotional pocket schedules released throughout the years during spring training. Ever the vehicles of optimism, pocket schedules provide a nice snapshot of how the team plans to advertise its product to the fan base. For example, team-designed pocket skeds distributed last year centered on bringing pride back to the city after the 2012 Bobby Valentine-Helmed Abortion. The whole 162 Chances to Restore the Faith thing worked out pretty well.

David Ortiz pocket sked 2014

Coming off a World Series victory, the team probably won’t need to get all that creative this year to drum up interest on a macro level. But moving tickets during afternoon games in early spring could be more challenging. The 2014 pocket schedule rallying cry speaks to that: “Any Game Can Be The Game.”

Indeed. Opening Day is less than 72 hours away.

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