The Dentist Goes West

1196177780Dr. Charles Steinberg, the patron saint of Pink Hat Hell, is making his long-rumored move to Los Angeles, where he will no doubt make it his mission to enlist fans to join Dodger Dominion, or some such nonsense.

As Executive Vice President/Public Affairs, Steinberg won well-deserved kudos for helping turn Fenway Park into a place to see and be seen, as opposed to a cramped and aging relic with a baseball game as the only means of amusement. And Steinberg also earned well-deserved scorn for the exact same reasons. We’re fickle that way.

Fair or unfair, Steinberg will also be remembered for cheesy stunts like Red Sox Nation cards, Sox Appeal, and for being the presumptive source on that infamous Dan Shaughnessy column that led to Theo Epstein’s sabbatical in the winter of 2005.

The prevailing notion was that there wasn’t a piece of the Red Sox ‘fan experience’ (I feel dirty just typing those words) that Steinberg wouldn’t try to sell. None worse than the wretched hyper-marketing of Red Sox Nation that helped transform the Sox from a beloved local institution to a reviled quasi-America’s Team, complete with bandwagon fans.

In going to the Dodgers, Steinberg joins Boston ex-pat Frank McCourt, who still seems unsure as to whether he’s trying to reunite the 2003 Red Sox (Nomar, DLowe, Grady) or the Yankees (Joe Torre, etc.) No question Los Angeles will be an easier sell for the doctor’s bag of tricks. People eat fake nostalgia for breakfast out there.

It will be interesting to see which direction the Red Sox go now in their marketing plans. Fenway is filled to capacity every night. There can’t be a man, woman, or child alive in the New England region that doesn’t own a Sox hat (pink or otherwise). Now that they are the gold standard franchise, will the Red Sox take a more subdued and sober approach?

Unlikely, but now might be the time to pull back just a little.