It's Opening Day at Fenway. And the 37,000 or so on hand might even cheer for the Red Sox. A 4-2 start and $5 mini-beers can work miracles.
Mad men was a perfect way to describe a sizable portion of the Red Sox fan base for the past 19 months.
"Mad Men" returned Sunday night on AMC, starting the show's sixth season. The Red Sox mark their 101st anniversary at Fenway Park Monday with absolutely nothing marking the first opener in 1912. The progress continues. If only they could replace "Sweet Caroline" with the sounds of silence.
The Red Sox arrive for "Duck Boat Monday" atop the A.L. East. It's their best start after six games since 2006, back when almost no one was on Twitter, nearly everyone had a job and homes were above water. The front-end of the Red Sox rotation has been as good as hoped, if not hyped. Jon Lester (2-0, 1.50 ERA) has given up just two runs in 12 innings, pitching in Toronto and the Bronx. Lester finished last April 1-2 with a 4.65 ERA and went downhill from there.
Clay Buchholz (1-0, 1.29 ERA), who stymied the Yankees by giving up just one run in seven innings on Wednesday, starts today. He should get a healthy ovation today, along with just about all the starters, reserves, manager, coaches and support staff when they are introduced by the new PA announcer(s).
Then there's John Lackey, who left Saturday's game with a sore arm. How to react to Lackey and his leaner state is a tough call. Fans at Fenway still haven't had a chance to fully vent their pent-up anger at the man at the epicenter of "chicken and beergate" since he missed all of last season, and was last seen in August "double-fisting" in the clubhouse. But he's hurt, so booing his sorry slimmed-down rear end might make Red Sox fans appear no better than their Toronto counterparts, who did the same thing on Saturday. After watching Lackey pitch on Saturday, I think I've gained all the weight he's lost.
Billions won't be at Fenway Monday. I've been lucky enough to attend about a dozen Fenway openers in my life, with the last coming in 2008. My cheer for Bill Buckner that day was as loud as everyone else's. Buckner had long-ago earned his Red Sox redemption, even though it wasn't really necessary since the real culprits that night were Schiraldi, Stanley, Gedman, McNamara and the Mets.
Hey, if Lackey's booed today, he's certainly earned it. He would hear it from me. If he gets a lukewarm or even positive reaction, the Red Sox fans at Fenway must be really hammered on those $5 mini beers, or just in a forgiving mood since Easter is less than three weeks away (at least for Milan Lucic, Maria Menounos and the rest of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians.) Sometimes we admittedly don't practice what we're preached.
On "Mad Men," the infamous New York ad agency "Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Pryce" makes thousands of dollars for its partners by coming up with inventive and clever slogans for airlines, cigarettes (for a few seasons at least), beans, lawn mowing equipment and even Jaguar. Speaking of sexual preference, landing that last client helped the buxom red-headed Joan (Harris) Holloway "earn" her stake in the firm. But that's another story.
And all this fun happened before the days of social media. The Red Sox, like every sports, media and entertainment organization, are working to capture the buzz on Twitter. They've also launched an ad blitz of their own this season, designed to win back the affection of the Fenway Faithful. Among the slogans: "162 Chances To Restore The Faith" and "What's Broken Can Be Fixed."
We've already seen some better suggestions for this year's Red Sox, including "Don't Hate Us" and some epic #RedSox promotional hashtags courtesy of this brilliant effort from Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub that toyed with the emotions of ticket-hungry Red Sox fans and aired on Friday.
Unfortunately, Draper died of lung cancer in 2003 and Roger Sterling fell victim to cirrhosis 20 years earlier. (They're fake people, people, so we can make that stuff up until AMC tells us otherwise).
The original "Sterling Cooper" was formed in 1923 (that is true in the fake world of "Mad Men", by the way). Over the years, they surely could have helped the Red Sox. The failed "Red Sox: Whiter Than The Baseball" campaign from the 1950s did not help matters historically. How many of you are furiously Googling that one to see if the Red Sox actually used it?
In the spirit of "Mad Men" and in honor of the late Draper and Sterling we'd like to offer some more suggested slogans for the 2013 Red Sox that might help sell the team even better. Most would also work wonders as Twitter hashtags, always a concern in 2013 when it comes to marketing and public relations:
- "Finger-Lickin' Average."
- "Hooray ($5) Beer!"
- "Beckett Can't Hurt Us Anymore"
- "Third Place or Bust"
- "Improbable Is Nothing"
- "Carl Crawford Never Happened"
- "We Try Hardly"
- "Expect Less, Pay More"
- "Bobby Who?"
- "Lackey: The Weight Is Over."
It's all done in the spirit of 2013. The team is awash in good will, and so is what stands for Red Sox Nation these days. Much of its core was disheartened. Some of the hate - at least - has begun to dissipate.
With 3.75 percent of the season in the books, the Red Sox have demonstrated hustle, a spectacular bullpen, clutch hitting and decent starting pitching. Today's crowd might be riotous. The Red Sox took two out of three in New York and Toronto. Will Middlebrooks hit three home runs during Sunday's 13-0 mauling. Two of those shots came off knuckleballer/meatballer R.A. Dickey. His transition to the American League is making J.D. Drew's look like Frank Robinson's.
And over the weekend, NESN viewers got a nice chorus of "f--k yeahs!" from Jonny Gomes and his teammates.
The real good news for the Red Sox and their fans is that if the team can continue to maintain this level of play, remaining competitive, passionate and engaged, the franchise won't need any phoney-baloney schemes to sell tickets or generate buzz.
The players will do that all on their own.
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