SBD/August 28, 2012/Franchises

Red Sox Sellout Streak Grows To 782 Games Despite Empty Seats At Fenway

Red Sox said sellout numbers come from the number of tickets sold, not attendance
Despite "large clusters of empty seats at Fenway Park and speculation" that the Red Sox' home sellout streak would end, the team yesterday "announced a crowd of 37,506" for their 5-1 win over Royals, according to Dan Duggan of the BOSTON HERALD. It was the team's 782nd consecutive sellout, the "longest streak in major U.S. pro sports history." Red Sox Media Relations Dir Pam Ganley said of the streak persisting despite empty seats, "The tickets were sold, which isn't related to the no-show rate." With the team's on-field struggles this year, "many expected the streak to end, but the team continues to announce sellouts, adding to the record that began in 2003" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/28). Red Sox Exec VP & COO Sam Kennedy said the “sellout criteria” for a day game was 37,067. Kennedy said, “There’s a big difference between a no-show rate and tickets that are unsold. … We are blessed here in Boston with the fourth or fifth lowest no-show rate in Major League Baseball. I think the industry average is over 20%; we’re in the 10-15%, and even lower in some years past.” He said the Red Sox try to “do our best to make sure that tickets get in the hands of people to use them.” Kennedy: “That’s why we go to great lengths about how we distribute our tickets and putting ticket limits early in the year so they’re not all going into the hands of brokers or scalpers. People for the most part who buy tickets, use them.” He said of empty seats late in the season, “A lot of it is tied to team performance. … When you have a year like (this year), you’re going to have a no-show rate that is a little bit higher” (“Red Sox Gameday Live,” NESN, 8/27). In New Hampshire, Alan Greenwood writes, "The Red Sox brass should quit fooling themselves, and realize that they are fooling no one outside their front office, over the sham sellout streak" (NASHUA TELEGRAPH, 8/28).

END OF AN ERA: In Boston, Gerry Callahan writes of the Red Sox' trade that included sending 1B Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers, "This is only the greatest trade in Red Sox history." With one transaction, with one "misguided trading partner, the Red Sox essentially slammed the door on the [former GM Theo] Epstein era and ushered in a new day." Callahan writes "just like that, everything changed" for GM Ben Cherington. The "toothless Larry Lucchino sock puppet who couldn’t even hire his own manager was suddenly the bold, bloodless triggerman the Red Sox desperately needed" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/28). ESPN BOSTON's Gordon Edes wrote, "If we can take Cherington at his word that the Sox are not just intent on shaving payroll and prepared to tolerate a 'bridge year' until their top prospects have ripened, the Sox will have no choice but to spend." If the Red Sox "expect to address their most pressing needs, like the starting rotation, they may have no choice but to target at least one big-ticket player" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 8/27).

EARNING BACK THEIR TRUST: In Boston, Michael Silverman writes, "As giddy as everybody got, Red Sox fans should keep that 'Mission Accomplished' banner in storage." Fans are "expected to trust and believe the franchise has ... not only repudiated the decision-making process that went into all of those massive deals, but also replaced it with something better." The Red Sox have "a ton of bridge building to do with their fans to make them understand not only what went wrong, but also why the same people who made the mistakes can be trusted to have learned from them" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/28). The NASHUA TELEGRAPH's Greenwood writes, "History will consider it one of the greatest transactions in franchise history." The trade was "cleansing for the front office's collective soul." But the Red Sox "have a few more things they can do to finish wiping their slate clean." Greenwood: "First, give Bobby Valentine a raise and say that he will be the manager of this nine in 2013" (NASHUA TELEGRAPH, 8/28).

SPORTS GUY'S INTROSPECTIVE: GRANTLAND.com's Bill Simmons wrote of the Red Sox, "We started spending money like the Yankees. Our charming, broken-down, illogically constructed museum of a baseball park was overhauled and turned into a cash cow (same for the streets surrounding it)." The owners "relentlessly pimped the Red Sox brand inside the stadium, on their website, on their 24-hour TV channel, on your street, in your house, on your forehead and everywhere else you could imagine, only we looked the other way because they kept funneling so much of their profits back into the team." Not long ago, the Red Sox organization "ranked among the most thoughtful in baseball." Simmons: "So what changed? Everyone else in baseball started emulating what the smarter teams were doing, leaving [Epstein] without any real market inefficiencies to exploit other than defense and this one: He could simply outspend 95 percent of the league." But after the deal with the Dodgers, the Red Sox front office "might put some actual thought into 2013 instead of settling on being Yankees Farther East" (GRANTLAND.com, 8/27).
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