John Henry Owns the Red Sox, the Globe, and Now He Owns Twitter, Too
A South Florida sports reporter wrote that the Marlins were “outraged” by the Red Sox fielding a…well…Pawtucket-like lineup for their March 6 away game under the headline, “Red Sox Cheat Roger Dean Stadium Fans with Substandard Travel Roster.” What? Shouldn’t fans want to see their own team? Nope, not in Florida at least. The Sun-Sentinel wrote:
Thursday, fans per ticket paid $12 more for field box seats, $11 more for loge and $10 more for bleachers than they would for a weekday game.
The reason? The Boston Red Sox.
While there’s clearly misplaced blame here (the Marlins have been price gouging, aka tiered pricing—something the Red Sox are starting this season—for years), Sox owner John Henry took to Twitter to respond to the story with a tweet:
They should apologize for their regular season lineup.
— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) March 8, 2014
Let’s have a look at the lineup on that day:
Ouch. Other than Jackie Bradley Jr., that lineup is pretty much the Pawtucket Red Sox, if that. (And Bradley Jr. is fresh off the farm, anyway.) You’d think perhaps a star pitcher would be on the mound or something, but alas, that was not the case, either:
Here’s the lineup just a few days earlier vs. the St. Louis Cardinals at the same venue (the Cards and Marlins both share the lovely Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. for spring training):
While fans at this game got to see Bradley Jr., Middlebrooks, and new phenom Bogaerts, notably missing from both lineups are the players that the fans spend money to see: Ortiz, Pedroia, Victorino, Napoli. None of them traveled to either of the above east coast games in Jupiter, Fla., and they shouldn’t have to. Why? Because traveling across the state of Florida for a spring training game sucks.
It’s a solid two-and-a-half hour drive minimum. If you’re a Red Sox fan living or visiting South Florida and want to see the Red Sox in their home ballpark for spring training, you most likely have to cross Alligator Alley—the most direct route for Broward and Miami-Dade counties—which is a long, scary road where you can play “count the alligators” on your way to the game. Then, after nearly two hours of swampland, you arrive on the west side of the state and still have another 40 or so minutes up I-75 to get to Fort Myers. The route is even worse on the way home when it’s dark out (think: “count the alligators” at night!). The alternate is State Road 80, which is even darker. Both trips will be a solid two-and-a-half hour drive minimum. By the end of your trip, you’ve been in the car longer than you’ve been at the actual game. Anyone who has attended a spring training game in the last decade knows that if you are at a spring training game to see the visiting team, and the team had to travel more than two hours to the game, you’ll be lucky to see two, maybe three starters. Tops.
Another reason why the stars shouldn’t have to travel for games like that is because of the MLB’s barely enforced four starters rule. Somebody please show me a team that has adhered to that rule…ever. Does this suck for fans? Of course, but teams like the Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays have been price gouging for years. And this is exactly why John Henry is right: the Marlins have bigger things to worry about. Despite a couple of magical seasons, the Marlins have basically become a minor league breeding ground, a place where young, talented players can be groomed into superstars so that the big money teams can swoop in and get them in their prime. There’s a reason why 10-year-olds in South Florida know what the term “fire sale” means in baseball.
For his part, Henry’s been showing a lot of personality lately, and it’s refreshing—especially for Boston fans. (Spanning more than baseball, he threw senior editor Jason Schwartz an epic zinger in this series of emails when asked about the Globe‘s new Catholic site.) The bottom line is that this kind of attitude is welcome from an owner, especially one who just won the World Series. When you win, it’s easy to get complacent, but it seems that Henry hasn’t lost his competitive hunger. And that’s just what we need going into a new season.