Category Archives: Mayor Thomas Menino

MLB umps: ‘Of course opposing pitchers are squeezed at Fenway’

BOSTON–Some call it the most conclusive evidence yet that Whitey Bulger is still very much alive. Others blame it on a power-hungry mayor who wields far too much pull in the inner workings of the city, including the fortunes of the Hub’s professional baseball team.

Whatever the causes, the data is irrefutable: Umpires are simply afraid to call a third strike on a Red Sox batter in late inning situations at Fenway Park. In a city that cares so deeply about their beloved local nine, umpires take a substantial risk in calling strikes during late-game situations.

The latest evidence came in Wednesday night’s dramatic 9-8 comeback victory in which Nick Green appeared to take a game-ending third strike from Brian Fuentes. The pitch was called ball four and Green’s walk drew in the game-tying run, much to the chagrin of Mike Scioscia, a former player so bland in personality during his playing days that the writers for The Simpsons didn’t even bother naming the mysterious ailment that kept him from playing for the Springfield Isotopes in a 1992 episode. After the game, the Angels manager and several players intimated that umpires’ non-calls on Red Sox hitters is a chronic issue.

One former and one current Major League umpire are confirming the Late-Inning Fenway Factor bias, a phenomenon unrivaled at other ballparks around the league.

“Do you want the lingering members of the Irish and Italian mob coming after you?” asked a former MLB umpire speaking on condition of anonymity. “Boston’s drug and gambling rackets dried up years ago…All these guys do now is watch baseball and complain about the umpiring. They know us all by name…I guarantee it. Down in New York, the mobsters have better things to do, but not up here…”

Others explain the phenomenon as a symptom of Mayor Thomas Menino’s unchecked power over the city’s operations, a key rallying cry of mayoral hopefuls Sam Yoon and Michael Flaherty.

“What if I want to paint the shutters on my house in West Roxbury? You think Mayor Menino’s gonna back the BRA zoning to do that if I’m the reason the Sox lost?” reasoned a current American League umpire who worked a series at Fenway earlier this summer.

The retired umpire concurred. “Menino’s only but a few miles away and ready to sic his cronies on us any minute. Whitey worries me the most, though. What if he’s watching in Thailand or Fiji or the North Pole or wherever he is and decides to come back and exact some justice on one of us for a bad call? It’s not worth it.”

“If it’s close, you call it a ball…everyone knows that,” said the active AL ump.

Pitch f/x data analyses indicate that, indeed, called strikes at Fenway Park are rare when Red Sox players are batting in the seventh inning or later. Analysts suggest that high-walk-rate players such as J.D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis would have on-base percentages about 50 points below their current levels were it not for the Late-Inning Fenway Factor.

“My guess is that the umpire last night knew darn well that pitch to Green was strike three,” said the retired umpire. “And that guy at first wasn’t going to ring him up on that check swing, either. I know for a fact that guy has a grandson in the Boston school system. Menino would ship that kid out to some charter school in Roxbury so quick his head would spin.”

Verbal abuse from the fans was also cited as an explanation for the Late-Inning Fenway Factor bias.

“Some of the things these people yell about me and – god rest her soul, about my late mother – are just awful,” said the active umpire. “And those Boston accents they have…they just make everything come out so hurtful. Fans in other cities like St. Louis are just too classy to yell things like you hear in Boston. If I call a strike on a Cardinals player, the fans applaud my honesty.”

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Fenway/Kenmore residents infuriated over extension of “Fenway Family Hour”

BOSTON, Mass.–Fenway and Kenmore Square area residents are livid over the Boston Red Sox’ announcement Tuesday that hour-long discounts on food concessions will continue throughout the month of May:

Fenway Family Hour, a joint effort between the Red Sox and ARAMARK, was launched in April.  During the month of May, nine popular food items will again be available at up to 50% off in price, including: Fenway Franks, pizza slices, pretzels, popcorn, cotton candy, fruit cups, veggie cups, slider boat (two sliders & fries), and Hoodsie ice cream cups.  The discount is available at all locations throughout the ballpark and there is no limit on the number of items purchased. 

It is a “first hour” provision that has residents particularly upset at the extension, which would seemingly appear to be nothing more than a gesture of good faith by the team to cash-strapped fans. The fine print within the promotion dictates that the discounts are only available for the first hour after the gates are opened (i.e. 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. for a 1 o’clock start). The undesired result, residents say, is a push by fans to arrive for games as early as possible.

“These games are all-day events now,” said 43-year-old Maryanne Donahue as she sat outside her apartment on Park Drive. “Fans are showing up in the area four or five hours before the game even starts so they can get a parking spot and tailgate or go to the bar for a couple hours before the gates open. It’s the Kentucky Derby here every night now.”

Ted Crane, a 25-year resident of the Kenmore Square area, says he’s also noticed an earlier influx of Red Sox fans on game nights this season as compared to prior years.

“These families with a bunch of kids are showing up with their hats and jerseys and novelty license plates…They gotta make sure they’re inside the park for the full hour of half-price food,” says Crane. “And I’ll tell you something else, they’re eating like it’s the Last Supper. Ice cream, hot dogs — sliders, for crissakes, sliders! At Fenway Park! — I’ve had to hose down vomit on the sidewalk in front of my building almost every day.”

As many as 100 Fenway/Kenmore residents have banded together in petitioning Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to order the Red Sox to cease its “Fenway Family Hour” plans for May.

“One month of this was enough,” says Maura Mastarrono, a superintendent of a building on Boylston St. near the park. “With the weather getting warmer in May, I can only imagine fans are going to be filing into the city even earlier in the day. The Landsdowne crowd? I see them strolling into those watering holes at 9 a.m. now so they can get a buzz going before scarfing down a bunch of cheap food.”

City officials did not return repeated requests for comment. However, a Boston Police Department spokesperson assured Fenway Pastoral that, “We have procedures in place for controlling public gluttony and ensuring that the presence of delicious, affordably priced food is not abused.”