In the three weeks since they played their final game of the 2010 season, the Red Sox have bought a soccer team and announced that they hope to drastically alter the Fenway Park playing dimensions, a pair of suspect moves for a club rapidly attracting the dubious eyes of New England. Free agency ought to be a hoot.
First, the soccer thing. Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino insists that NESV's purchase of Liverpool will have no financial ramifications on the product the Red Sox put on the field, and we'll have to take him for his word on that. After all, Boston only uses the luxury tax as an excuse to not spend.
But sorry, not buying this bullpen nonsense.
If the Fenway bullpens aren't up to Major league Baseball's "recommended" code, why not just push them back a few feet instead of extending them out into right field? Of course, the Sox may lose a row or two of bleacher seats that way instead of the inevitability of adding them should the Boston Landmark Commission approve the team's request. That's what this is all about in the end anyway, right? I'm sure there's some well-tailored excuse as to why they can't expand the other way, but shouldn't that be the immediate follow-up?
It's not as if the Red Sox owners didn't know what they were getting into when they purchased Fenway, but where else can you squeeze nickels and dimes out of it? I only wish MLB had a recommended code for ballpark seats for I'm sure the Red Sox would address the fact that their seats are fit for people only of Danny DeVito's stature and expand those somehow.
Here's hoping the landmark commissions don't sign off on the plan not because of some historical integrity mumbo-jumbo, but because the team's intentions here are transparent. Liverpool may not affect the product the Red Sox put on the field, but tinkering with the playing dimensions will. And for what? Another couple bucks? Because I'm sure the franchise needs another 30 seats to sell when it just dropped $476 million on a soccer team overseas.
Maybe it won't affect anything that happens in Boston, aside from the force-feeding of everything Liverpool (see Racing, Roush) on a baseball public who could give two bollocks about the whole thing. And maybe the Red Sox are sincere in their intention to make the world a better place for Jonathan Papelbon and friends. Maybe.
But it's a move that could seriously affect Red Sox pitchers, not to mention the offbeat dimensions of the park, the thing that makes Fenway most unique. But you have to keep that phony sellout streak going somehow, I suppose. And with interest waning in the team, the only way to do that is to add more seats. Ace will have them for you in the spring.