The perception of many surrounding the Red Sox ownership group since the team’s on-field collapse in September of 2011, through the one year Bobby Valentine “era,” right up to the start of the 2013 season was that whenever things got bad, John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino were there to make things worse — all by attempting to spin things back in their direction with their mouths.
That approach backfired with fans as the team’s record sell-out streak at Fenway Park officially ended on April 10 of this year after 820 consecutive games at “100 percent capacity” or above.
One year ago this month, Lucchino sent out a letter to Sox season ticket holders that was openly mocked by the media and fans alike on sports radio and on the internet. Lucchino’s intention was likely to give Red Sox fans hope and to give them a reason to come to Fenway in the second half of the 2012 season despite the fact that the team was sitting at .500 (43-43 at last year’s All-Star break). There were more than a few dreaded “red seats” popping up at Fenway on NESN home broadcasts despite the “streak” and Lucchino spoke more about the allure of the ballpark itself in the letter than the on-field product.
“As you come to Fenway Park throughout this season, we hope you will come early—the secret to fully enjoying a sports venue,” Lucchino wrote. “Now ‘A Living Museum,’ Fenway Park probably leads the league in bronze plaques and commemorative displays along the concourses. Enjoy them at your leisure early, well before the escalation of excitement as game time approaches.”
Aside from Werner lashing out at Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy on Redsox.com in May over a column that insinuated that Ortiz may be using steroids and Henry sadly having to issue a statement of condolence in early June regarding the apparent suicide of a crew member on his yacht, the Red Sox ownership group has steered clear of the public eye throughout the 2013 season.
The most outrageous act by a member of the ownership trio may have occurred just this past weekend when Lucchino donned a black cowboy hat and wore hoop earrings at a Jason Aldean concert at Fenway. That act is a far cry from the day when Henry had to storm the broadcast studio of 98.5 The Sports Hub to defend his club’s honor in the wake of the dismissal of Terry Francona or even when Lucchino himself would engage in a passive aggressive feud with former GM Theo Epstein through the media.
With the best record in baseball at this year’s All-Star break, the Red Sox owners are letting the team do their talking for them. Judging by recent attendance, fans seem to be on board with the change in approach.
Fenway attendance coming back
Attendance hasn’t dipped below 90 percent capacity at Fenway Park since a rainy Tuesday night game on June 18 against the Rays (86.7 percent full with 32, 156 fans), which was the second game of a doubleheader. It hasn’t dipped below 80 percent since an afternoon weekday game (4:05 p.m. start) on April 24 against Oakland (79 percent full with 29,274 fans).
The cheapest ticket on StubHub.com for this Friday’s matchup with the Yankees, the first time New York has visited Fenway this year, was $53.65 as of Monday night. Dugout box seats were over the $1,000 mark.