Why I don’t go to major league baseball games

American-League-2010-First-Half-Average-Ticket-Prices1-600x298My wife will tell you that it’s not so much that I love baseball as much as it is part of my DNA. The soundtrack in my car from late March to late October because is whatever baseball game I can find on the radio. On May 20th, 21st and 22nd The Chicago Cubs – a team I have loved since growing up in Chicago – will play The Boston Red Sox – a team I have loved since I was 9 when we moved to Providence, RI, and I decided that it wasn’t cheating on your 1st team if the 2nd team was in a different league – will be playing each other at Fenway Park.

Here’s how much I am devoted to the two:

  • I am still upset that Ernie Banks never got to play in the World Series.
  • When someone asks how long I’ve lived in Boston I reply, “Since the spring after the ‘86 [World] Series.”

Until 2004, I reveled in loving the two most ill-fated teams in baseball. While that had its charms, I am quite content that only one of my beloveds is a constant reminder of the fickleness of probability.

Because of all this and knowing full-well that tickets were absurdly expensive, I went to see if maybe I could afford one in some far-distant bleacher seat with nearly totally obscured view of the field. The least expensive price for just such a seat: $99.

Out of curiosity, I went to see the cost least expensive ticket I could find for any game Red Sox at Fenway. So I looked at the cost for tickets to a Wednesday day game vs. The San Diego Padres, a team that will be lucky if it finishes above Baja this year. $46 for a seat in that weird little triangle in the center field bleachers.

Meanwhile, 45 minutes away in Pawtucket, RI, the best seats in the house for the Sox AAA farm team go for $11. For the AA team in Portland, ME: $9. For the single A Lowell Spinners $10. For the independent league Brockton Rox: $15 and that includes waiter service. If you want basically the same seats and are willing to get your own damn snacks: $9.50.

brockton-rox-main-logo1I’ll see you in Brockton. Bill Buckner, whom I have truly always admired, is managing and I’m pretty sure he’ll give me an autograph for no extra charge.

Doe! A deer! In Brighton center!

The office manager and I were out for our morning constitutional when we encountered this latest addition to Brighton’s multi-cultural stew. Hmmm, perhaps stew is an insensitive word in this case. In case you don’t know Boston, Brighton is urban. Sure we have a few trees but … deer? I guess rents really are going down. You ain’t seen funny until you’ve seen a pug chase a deer. Roxxy didn’t realize that the worst case scenario was actually catching it.

Wild turkey invades Boston!

No this doesn’t mean Big Brother SSG Collateral Damage is coming for a visit. This morning as I went out to get the paper (yep, I still kill trees for my morning info) I found it was being guarded by a very large bird. As in like 3 feet tall/long. In case you wondered: I live IN THE CITY. Mostly the wild life is restricted to skunks, raccoons and mice. (Note to self: Remind mice and raccoons they haven’t paid this month’s rent.)

Turkey sightings are on the increase around here — judging by the experience of my family. Last week, CD Jr. saw one at his school. (Are they stalking him? Note to self — check on restraining orders vs. wild fowl.) And last year I saw a gaggle (three) of the damn things in the Longwood section of town — which is all hospitals and big buildings.

I know the real estate market is slumping but can they really afford the rents around here?

Maybe they’re a new gang. Laugh if you will at the notion but the damn things have started terrorizing mail carriers in Madison, Wis.

About five to 10 of the birds have been pecking at the postal workers as they make their rounds, and some of the birds have attacked the letter carriers with the sharp spurs on their legs. One of the birds went through the open door of a mail truck and scratched the driver.

BTW, the bird let me have the paper once I assured him that I am a vegetarian and even so will never eat a Tofurkey.

The Red Sox or, when your brand changes underneath you

“You can’t be lovable if you’re not losers!” — Jon Stewart on the Red Sox, 10/29/07

That is exactly what is going on with Red Sox Nation. The brand identity until three years ago was The Cursed Ones. For a while after that we were The Redeemed Ones (until The White Sox took that mantle). Now, we are The Successful Ones. The first two had significant qualities that really differentiated the brand from everyone else. They also inspired huge amounts of loyalty among consumers.

As the (hated) Yankees can attest success also inspires huge amounts of loyalty, but it’s taking some getting used to here in the Nation. It’s not a bad thing to get used to — but it is different.

sox ballBefore this year, wearing the Red Sox logo generally got you a certain amount of sympathy and even respect in ballparks outside of New York. Other fans recognized you as someone devoted to the sport. Someone who stuck to your team no matter what and — let’s be honest — someone who rooted for a team that always made the other teams look better. It’s easy to sympathize with fans of a team like that — they’re not a threat. This explains why people outside of St. Louis are so fond of Cubs fans. (Outside of the Midwest, most people don’t realize the antipathy between the Cards and the Cubs. A friend once said that a game between those two teams would sell out even if it was held on Christmas Day during a blizzard. That sums it up.)

Now Sox fans — and their seem to be a lot of them everywhere — are going to have to get used to being reviled. So far the team hasn’t employed any True Villains in the sports marketing sense. Sure Schilling is a blowhard, but he blows just as hard against his own team as he does the opposition.

Stephen (Smarter Than Me) Baker, puts it well:

Hey Red Sox fans. Many of us used to love your team. And now that they’re fabulous, they’re a lot less fun. You may find that it’s lonely at the top. I never thought I’d say this, but I may end up pulling next year for those underdog Yankees.

The real problem will be not the team, but the fans. All this winning is stripping Sox fans of the shreds of humility that used to makes us so much easier to tolerate. We are in danger of collectively turning into what New Hampshire residents like to call Massholes.

Oh, how quickly we forget our four score decades of wandering in the wilderness. Well, if that’s the price of success all I can say is WAIT TILL THIS YEAR!

(BTW: Someone pointed out that the Red Sox didn’t become known as the Red Sox until 1908. Last time the Cubs won a World Series? 1908. Coincidence? I think not. So therefor the Cubs won’t win a Series again until the Sox change their name back to the Americans. While the logic is spurious, consider that I have 99 years of evidence to support it.)

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Stephen Baker is smart and I am dumb

Friday I haughtily derided Mr. Baker (a reporter for BusinessWeek) for wondering IF Royce Clayton had been paid for discussing the Taco Bell promotion in the World Series:

Yeah, if that was a coincidence then pass the tiara because I’m Princess Marie of Roumania.

Well, I wear a size 7 and 7/8 tiara. Quoth the Globe:

It’s Clayton who seems the big loser here – shilling for Taco Bell without getting a dime.

Mr. Baker took a skeptical view of things and was right. I took the cynical view and was wrong. That’s pretty much always the case.

BTW, I’m writing this during the 2nd inning of game 4 and I can say without cynicism or any chance of being wrong that there’s no way my prediction of the Rockies in 6 can come true.

fighting whitiesWhatever the outcome of tonight’s duel it’s been a good day for the area’s sports teams. The New England Cheaters demolished Washington 52-7. I loathe the Washington football team with a passion and love to see them humiliated. This isn’t that enjoyable type of sport hatred like I feel for the Yankees. This is an actual feeling of moral disgust. That there is a team with that nickname never ceases to appall me. I am not sure how any reasonable news outlet justifies printing the team’s name. The only thing that could have made today’s victory better is if the Sox Jacoby Ellsbury, who is of Navajo descent, could have helped. Well at least he got to beat Cleveland and it’s mascot.

It’s official: Boston high tech sector is in the tank

How else to explain this:

According to OutsideIn.com, a website that tracks neighborhood blogging, Boston was the “bloggiest city” in America for the two-month period it examined, March and April.

That can mean only one thing: Too many unemployed nerds. Following us up in the rankings were Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C., while San Jose, San Francisco and Seattle were all notably not highly ranked. THAT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE TOO BUSY WORKING.

Nice spin by the CEO of Outside. He’s paraphrased as saying that these cities are blog capitals because “Blogs thrive where locals are wired, well-educated, and obsessed with politics, a topic that inspires bloggers to vent their opinions.”

Yeah, that sounds good.

BTW, Jim Nail @ Cymfony has a slightly different take on this.

Boston’s on-going marketing freak out: Bomb squad called on ad swag

Newton Police and the State Police bomb squad were called to Newton North High School — Mrs. Collateral Damage’s alma mater — and used a robot to remove four black bags stuffed with newspaper and emblazoned with the emblem of the Web site b4class.com. The bags were filled with shredded newspaper.

“On the surface, it appears to be a marketing strategy,” said Newton Police Lt. Bruce Apotheker.

BTW, b4class is a social networking site created by a 17-year-old high school student in Quincy. Someone offer  Sofia Loginova a marketing job quick!

Boston Mayor says guns don’t kill people, parties do

In case you needed further proof that we’ve fallen off the deep-end here in Beantown:

An argument at an after-hours party erupted in gunfire, killing a woman and prompting the mayor to call for an end to the late-night parties. “It’s crazy. It’s nuts,” Mayor Thomas Menino told the Boston Globe. “We know all those parties bring bad events in our city. They always end up in some kind of violence.”

Thankfully, Hizzoner has not yet put forward a plan for curfews on gatherings between consenting adults in their own homes.

Cartoon Network is early nominee for worst marketing idea of 2007 awards

BOSTON – At least nine electronic devices, planted at bridges and other parts of Boston as part of a marketing campaign for a late-night cartoon, threw a scare into the city Wednesday.

I believe we will name these awards The Judies, in honor of Judith Regan.

UPDATE: The ever-watchful authorities have nabbed a perp in this one. Generally I would include the word alleged but the gentleman’s website does a really good job of documenting the placement of weapons of mass distraction. (PS: my actual news coverage of the “event” can be read here.)

Mooninites

And the worst commercial real estate in the US is…

Texas Stadium in Dallas and Jacobs Field in Cleveland. That’s according to Hasbro, which placed those two properties where the ultra-low rent Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues used to be, on its just-released Monopoly: Here & Now Edition. The company said the new edition “was designed to answer the question: “What would the most popular board game of all time look like if it were invented today instead of in 1935?” (Well, actually, it was designed to answer the ever-popular question: How do we move more units? But never mind that.) Top spots on the board go to New York’s Times Square, which takes the place of Boardwalk. Coming in second to New York yet again: Boston’s Fenway Park, which is Park Place. And not only have the properties been revamped but so have the tokens: the race car is a Toyota Prius, the old shoe is New Balance running shoe, and “the hip labradoodle takes the place of the Scottish terrier,” they tell us. The game tokens also include McDonald’s French Fries, a Motorola RAZR cell phone, and a generic airplane and laptop computer—which means none of the airlines or computer-makers would cough up a fee for naming rights. Cheap, cheap, cheap.

(FYI: This was originally written for a Brandweek newsletter. You should really check out Brandweek.com, I DO!)