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Selling (out) low

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  September 27, 2012 09:07 AM

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If you think there’s any way the Red Sox will approach business any differently in the wake of this wretched 2012 season, do yourself a favor; stand in the mirror, whack your palm against your cheek, and wander away muttering nonsensical tributes to a hopeless future.

They still don’t get it, and never will. Despite being mocked for their overzealous marketing, duplicitous boasts, and disingenuous approach to a fan base too intelligent to buy their lies, the Red Sox continue to preach falsehoods, unfulfilled promises, and double talk fit for dirty politicians.

The Sox closed Fenway Park for 2012 last night in the way they most often did this season, losing to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-2, before a distribution crowd that appeared about as passionate for baseball as a slug is for the treadmill. Sorry, folks, no SpookyWorld this year. The Ghost of the Die-Hard Red Sox fan out front should have told you.

There will be no playoffs either. That’s three years running, the longest stretch for Boston in a decade.

Still, 10 years ago, there was a guy named Pedro who gave you hope for the future, reason to trek to the ballpark every five days. That guy does not exist here. In 1992, Mo Vaughn and Roger Clemens gave the fandom faith. Those kinds of players aren’t on this team, a mismatch of immaturity and entitlement led by a boob whose time is about eight days and running.

That’s why it’s the worst team of our generation, just 17 months after being trumpeted “Best Team Ever.”

This may be news to the impervious Yawkey Way compound, but people have grown to loathe the Red Sox, not necessarily because of the on-field play, but because of a leadership that is lacking, clueless, and obstinate about the direction in which this franchise is headed. Bricks, plaques, and the sellout streak have become mocking clichés, yet the Red Sox continue to preach their authority with a denigrating voice that speaks to either their lack of respect for their client base or their denials of reality. Maybe it’s both.

President of Fenway Sports Group (you may know them from such other ventures as Liverpool, Roush Racing, and Lebron James) Sam Kennedy went on WGAM radio in New Hampshire Wednesday, and was asked by Matt Perrault about the honesty of the farcical sellout streak, something only fans of the Tooth Fairy and Great Pumpkin believe in these days.

“I think it’s more important to two other constituents,” Kennedy said. “First of all the fans, I think it’s something that fans are proud of. It’s something that is a great point of pride to be a Red Sox fan. To know that this ballpark is full night in, night out for nine years is something that doesn’t happen other places.”

No, Sam, pride is being a fan of a team that is not a complete and utter joke. Top to bottom.

The Red Sox are a nationwide punching line. For all this ownership has done over the past 10 years (John Henry is keeping count) it has run New England’s beloved franchise into the dirt, not only because of ridiculous personnel decisions, but because of a lack of respect for its fan base. Eight years ago, the players’ motto was “Why not us?” Today, the corporation’s motto is “Lie, cheat, steal.”

Speaking of the members of the 2004 team, about half of them were on hand Tuesday night for the transparent eighth anniversary of their World Series win, a celebration attended by about a third of the distribution crowd and seemingly thrown together by a front office thirsting for a reminder of the past. Not so, according to Kennedy.

“I find it absolutely hilarious that people would find it odd,” he said. “It’s the most important team in the history of the Boston Red Sox and we’ve been planning these celebrations for about two years.

“Some snarky media members have gotten that wrong.”

Oh.

Here’s an idea, Sam. Instead of planning lame pregame ceremonies with Chuck Steinberg (who wasn’t here two years ago) maybe concentrate on fielding a competitive baseball team. Maybe instead of trying to figure out the next way you can swindle some of the most loyal fans in baseball, you don’t toss millions of dollars at the next-best free agent because it just so happens to be days from “Christmas at Fenway.” Maybe you don’t constantly force those other “separate” FSG ventures down our throats until we’re numb to the product for which we were actually passionate.

Because that’s what Red Sox fans have become, dull to the franchise we all held dear. Immediate success can have that effect of assumption of a fan base, but nobody has ever taken it to the level as these relentless swindlers.

The Red Sox don’t return to Fenway until April, presumably re-tooled and with John Farrell in tow. Maybe they will be better. Maybe.

The franchise on the whole though? It has no hope. It really doesn't. It is stuck in its own vortex of obliviousness and all-knowing duplicity.

Fenway Park sold out last night. It won’t be the last time. Wake me when it’s not a lie.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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