After 794 games, 820 if you include the postseason, the most transparent falsehood in Boston sports will come to an end Wednesday night, weather permitting, and it will come wrapped complete with a rousing apathy.
The Red Sox’ sellout streak, a longtime farce perpetrated by the front office as a means of winning some sort of popularity contest that only it cared about, is finally over, barring any last-minute 7,000-ticket purchase from the Sox’ pals across the street over at Ace Tickets. But that’s not going to happen. The lie will mercifully come to an end on a drizzly evening at Fenway Park against the Baltimore Orioles.
Does anybody outside of 4 Yawkey Way care? In the least?
Of course, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino will predictably pander to the masses by telling the fans what a sense of pride they should have in one of sport’s longest-standing periods of packing the house. The embedded are already defending the streak, arguing that the “distribution” of tickets shouldn’t be a factor in determining how fake the sellout boast truly was. The Red Sox will tell those who doubt the genuine nature of the streak that they simply don’t understand the wild intricacies of what constitutes a “sellout.” Silly mortals.
I mean, call me stupid, but if you walk up to the box office during the game, have your choice of seats, and even better, are instructed to take the tickets for free, calling that game a “sellout” is a bit of a dubious approach. But much like the Liverpool-NASCAR-LeBron dynamics, I’m clearly too daft to comprehend the complexities of such remedial explanations by the Red Sox.
“I can understand the confusion,’’ Sam Kennedy, the team’s executive vice president, said last year, when a Globe report proved the much-ballyhooed pride of the team to be a complete fabrication. “But we operate by a definition that is commonly practiced throughout Major League Baseball and professional sports.’’
Ah, yes, the “distribution.”
Look, nobody is telling you anything new by saying that the sellout streak was a lie that rolled over from year to year. Who knows when the streak actually ended, but my guess is sometime around 2008. If that’s the case, we’ve been strung along on a fib for five years by the powers that be, which may seem a small matter, but in the grander scheme, it sort of makes you wonder where else the falsehoods have come from. Like Carl Crawford was a baseball decision, and not the result of a focus group survey.
But the good news is that it’s finally over, even if nobody cared about it to begin with. Sure, Larry, Tom, and John will clink champagne glasses in the owner’s box tonight to celebrate the wool held over the crowd’s eyes, but when the attendance is announced over the loudspeakers, the fact that the game is not a sellout should go over with about as much reaction as a harmless first-inning pop-up. But you know, the Red Sox being the Red Sox, there will be some urge to recognize the streak and have the fans give themselves a round of applause, giving glee to the gullible and nauseating the majority with common sense.
No longer do we have to hear about it. No longer do we have to mock it.
Gone will be the days when you couldn’t secure a ticket to a Red Sox game without paying the exorbitant fees over face value thanks to the legalized scalping that has infiltrated nearly every ticketed event this side of high school homecoming games. Red Sox fans still pay the highest prices in the major leagues, but for the time being, it is they who are having their way with the secondary market, where many prices remain below face value. Call it a little nugget of sweet revenge, if you will.
The fans, after all, are the ones who have finally won. Fed up with being insulted, lied to by the Red Sox brass, and hoodwinked into inferior marketing ploys, Boston fans delivered their message, and thus put an abrupt end to what Lucchino and Kennedy held so dear, for whatever reason.
Fans never had pride in the streak. Fans were fed up by it, forced to turn away from going to the ballpark thanks to skyrocketing prices and the “scarcity” of tickets. Where exactly is the pride in that?
The 2013 season has already begun with the most likeable Red Sox team in years, and it continues with an acknowledgement long overdue. Hallelujah.
Goodbye, sellout streak.