Are the Red Sox Retiring Jersey Numbers Too Soon?

Red Sox Nation saw David Ortiz’s number 34 retired during a pre-game ceremony Friday night. His number retirement came eight months after his actual retirement. It also marked the third time the Red Sox retired a number in as many years. So are the Red Sox retiring jersey numbers too soon?

Three years ago I thought it was strange that the Red Sox hadn’t retired many numbersred sox retired with its long and rich history. In fact, they only started the practice in the early 1980s. Before 2015 the Red Sox had only seven retired numbers. Since 2015 they’ve retired three. In fact, the Red Sox broke their own jersey retirement rules to induct the last three. So what does this mean? Are they trying to play catch up, or are they trying to make up lost revenue?

Is Attendance A Factor In The Decision To Retire Numbers?

According to Baseball-reference.com, the Red Sox averaged 3,008,355 fans per season between 2007 and 2013. Between 2014 and 2016 the Red Sox averaged 2,930,739 fans each season. That’s a drop off of 77,616 over three years. According to an April 2016 article on Fortune.com titled “Here’s How Much a Baseball Game Will Cost You This Year,” it costs a fan about $78.50 to attend a game at Fenway Park in 2016. That includes tickets, food, beverages, and parking. So let’s say for argument’s sake that the 77,616 drop in attendance equates to a loss of $78.50 per fan. That comes to a loss of $6,092,856 over three years. Of course, it’s easy to manipulate those numbers, but no matter how you crunch them it’s bad for the Red Sox.

Seeing The Red Sox Retiring Boggs’ Number Was A Little Awkward

It made sense to retire Pedro Martinez’s number. He helped carry the Red Sox to their first World Series championship in 2004. But Wade Boggs? Yes, his time with the Red Sox made him a legend. But Boggs left Boston for New York where he won his only World Series Championship in 1998. In fact, he wore his Yankee World Series ring to his jersey retirement ceremony at Fenway Park much to the irk of many. While fans liked seeing the much-beloved Boggs’ number retired, it made other wonder why now? Why him? Was it an effort to bring older fans back to the ballgame so they could reignite their love for the game? Was it an effort to get its younger fanbase to tap into the rich history of the Red Sox? No matter how you dice it retiring Boggs’ number came off as awkward.

Are the Red Sox Retiring Numbers Too Soon?

So are the Red Sox retiring numbers too soon, or are they truly trying to honor their legends? Or are they trying to make up for lost revenue? The Red Sox have a staggering payroll and losing $6 million equates to about six or seven of their players making between $500-600,000 a year. No matter how you look at it, the frequency in retiring numbers does give true fans pause about how sincere the intentions are.

Red Sox Prepare To Retire Ortiz’s No. 34

Festivities to honor David Ortiz are already underway as the Red Sox prepare to honor Big Papi by retiring his number 34 before Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. For only the eleventh time in their history, the Red Sox will retire the number of one of its greats. What makes this retirement ceremony unique is that it has only been eight months since Ortiz played his last game.

Retiring Ortiz’s number so soon reflects a deep love and appreciation for Big Papi. OrtizRed Sox Prepare wasn’t just a great hitter who played most of his career in Boston. Ortiz was a symbol of hope in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. His words, “This is our f–king city!” became a rallying cry for discouraged Bostonians. Later that fall his home run against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS staved off defeat and allowed the Red Sox to advance to the World Series. In a time when Hall of Fame-caliber players are few and far in between, Ortiz’s heroics not only made the Red Sox great, but made baseball even greater.

Qualifications Have Waned in Recent Years As Red Sox Prepare For Jersey Retirement

The Red Sox used to have very strict requirements when it came to retiring a jersey number. The strict set of requirements allowed a select few to see their numbers retired. First, the player had to have played for the Red Sox for ten years. Second, he has to be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Third, he had to have retired with the Red Sox. While those rules stood for many years, one by one, the Red Sox accommodate other greats who didn’t meet the requirements.

Carlton Fisk, the greatest catcher in Red Sox history, finished his career with the Chicago White Sox. Pedro Martinez didn’t play ten years with the Red Sox, and finished his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Johnny Pesky isn’t a Hall of Famer, but his service to the team over the course of sixty years earned him a spot among the retired.

While Ortiz didn’t have to wait for induction into the Hall of Fame to see his number retired, his induction will happen. Some say Ortiz won’t be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Allegations surrounding his use of PEDs have haunted him for years. Those allegations should have little to no impact on the BBWAA when Ortiz becomes eligible. One this is for sure though. Bostonians will pack the small town of Cooperstown when it comes time to induct Ortiz.

Is It Too Late For A Red Sox Recovery?

The Red Sox are struggling. Acquiring Chris Sale made many believe the Red Sox finally had the best rotation in the American League. But then David Price went on the DL. Rick Porcello stopped winning games. Another rash of injuries followed the Red Sox into the infield. Sprained legs, sore elbows, vertigo, and the flu wreaked havoc on the Red Sox. So is a Red Sox recovery possible?

We’re going into June and the Red Sox are stubbornly lodged in second place as of MayRed Sox Recovery 30th. While the Red Sox won the division last year, they suffered dismal seasons in 2014 and 2015. What’s even worse is that its not as much fun to watch the team this year. What’s driving this losing season and what needs to happen to stop it?

John Farrell Needs To Go

After he was pulled, Drew Pomeranz and John Farrell had a little blowup in the dugout a few weeks ago. Farrell pulled Pomeranz after only four innings, leading him to question his manager in an exchange caught on camera. Blowups between players and managers aren’t uncommon. But this isn’t the first time a pitcher openly questioned Farrell. Wade Miley and Farrell screamed it out in June of 2015 when Farrell pulled him after giving up five runs in four innings. Any good boss knows open insubordination signals a lack of respect. The fact that his players feel like they can do that is a sign that Farrell may not have as much control over his players as he should. Despite their recent success against Texas and Seattle, fans got to ask how long that insubordination will last.

Motivation (Or a Lack Thereof) is Hurting a Red Sox Recovery

The Boston Marathon bombing motivated the Red Sox to win the 2013 World Series. Since then, we’ve lost a lot of our A-Listers including David Ortiz. Now it seems like the Red Sox are like a ship without a rudder. They don’t have a sense of direction. It’s as if they don’t know what they’re doing or where they want to go.

Let Farrell go. Keeping him at this point is like dating someone you don’t like anymore. All you’re really doing is waiting for something to give. Then designate a new team captain. The team needs someone from within who can motivate the rest of the team.

It’s not too late to take first place and take the division. We’re not even at the All-Star break yet. So while a Red Sox recovery is possible, the team needs to cut the dead wood adrift.

Hawking Autographs Hurts Baseball’s Integrity

I’m a member of a Facebook group called Autographs 101. Members give advice and judge the authenticity of signatures. One of the things I love about the group is that its members truly love the game of baseball. Seeing someone proudly display pictures of hawking autographstheir grandfather’s Ted Williams autograph is exciting. One of things that really bothers me though is when someone shows of an autograph they got for free at a game and wants to sell it. Someone gets a baseball signed by Kris Bryant or David Ortiz, then posts a picture of it asking for an obscene amount. Hawking autographs for personal profit not only hurts the game’s integrity, but it’s a selfish thing to do.

I’d go to ballgames as a kid hoping I’d get a few autographs. Other teens and I would stand behind each other patiently waiting for the signatures of Brett Butler, Moises Alou, Pat Hentgen, and Andy Petite, who all signed for me. Nowadays though I see full grown men shoving kids away to get an autograph. Some ballparks now have a Kids Only section where they can get autographs.

These hawkers get hundreds for Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and David Ortiz. Knowing that fans are profiting off of them, some ballplayers now refuse to sign for adults. Others will sign a ball but won’t do it on the sweet spot because they know a fan won’t be able to get as much for it. Washington Nationals’ pitcher Max Scherzer is going an extra step to ensure fans aren’t hawking autographs. Scherzer set up a website where fans can buy his autograph with all the profits going directly to charity. This angers some fans who won’t be able to make a 100% anymore. They brought it on themselves though.

Hawking Autographs Ruins It For Other Fans

I attended the Hall of Fame Classic game last weekend in Cooperstown. Hundreds of fans stood behind a fence on the first base line waiting for Hall of Famers to come and sign. Most were little kids. But I saw many adults with 2×3 foot posters hoping that someone like Wade Boggs would sign it. How obnoxious do you have to be to not only take a kid’s place, but lug around something that large?

I attended the game with my buddy Angelo who told me a story about Alex Rodriguez. A few years ago, his brother stood outside the ballpark for A-Rod. Most of those who were waiting were little kids who A-Rod is apparently more than happy to sign for. But an overzealous fan almost ruined it for everyone when he handed a box of a dozen baseballs to A-Rod asking him to sign each one. “C’mon man, really?” A-Rod said to the guy. “I know what you’re going to do with those.” A-Rod ignored the guy and continued signing for the kids. The guy got nothing, and deservedly so.

I collect autographs myself. I mail baseball cards to former players, and pay a fee to meet them in Cooperstown. One thing I won’t do is push kids aside. If you think that’s okay then you need to get a life.

Why Does Fenway Park Feel So Empty This Season?

I’ve had season tickets since 2015 and every game I wiggle through large crowds to get to my seats. Even in their bad years Fenway Park always seemed packed. On a good day large crowds congregated on Lansdowne Street. Vendors peddle programs, peanuts, and t-shirts. It’s difficult to break through the crowds on these days. The chaos, however, Fenway Park feelis what makes going to Fenway so much fun. Lately though it feels like something’s missing. Entire sections of bleacher seats are vacant. There doesn’t seem to be as many vendors stationed outside the park. The 50/50 raffle drawing pot isn’t nearly what it was last season. So why does Fenway Park feel so empty this season?

For one thing the weather hasn’t been too cooperative. A rainout cancelled the first game of the series between the Red Sox and Yankees. Wednesday’s game made for a very wet and damp night. An unverified rumor claimed that Wednesday’s game saw the fewest fans between the two rivals in years. That’s uncharacteristic of a series between the two. But what are the other reasons?

You could argue that the absence of David Ortiz is keeping fans away. There’s no more Big Papi to root for. After he retired, fans weren’t left with anyone on the team to really cheer for. Sure, there’s players like Dustin Pedrioa but he doesn’t appeal to fans the way Ortiz did. While that might not be the entire reason, it’s difficult not to notice the differences in the crowds between this season and last. Another reason is that the Red Sox aren’t playing too well. The front office spent hundreds of millions of dollars on big-names and so far they’ve seen little return on their investment. It doesn’t help when Chris Sale strikes out ten but still loses the game due to a lack of run support.

Why Does Fenway Park Feel Empty? Don’t Worry, It Won’t Last Long

On a more rationale level though, it’s important to remember that the season is barely a month old. School’s still in session. The weather hasn’t leveled out yet. More fans should come when school gets out and the weather gets more consistent. But for the first time since moving here, I’m hearing more and more fans say out loud that they’re not going to pay for a ticket to watch the Red Sox lose when they can just stay at home and watch them for free. Fenway Park is one of the most expensive parks in baseball. Add bad weather and hitting to that and you got empty seats.

While I know the fanbase will grow as the weather gets warmer, it’s hard to shake the feeling that something is making Fenway Park feel empty. I hate seeing fans leave so early. I also hate seeing Lansdowne and Yawkey Way less crowded before games. But as Terrance Mann in Field of Dreams said, “People will come…People will most definitely come.”

No One Will Ever Replace Ortiz

Who will replace David Ortiz? It’s a burning question fans in Red Sox Nation have been asking since “Big Papi” officially retired last October. Ortiz gave so much to the Red Sox over the course of his career, including three World Series Championships. Perhaps more importantly, he gave the city hope in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. Since the early 2000s, Ortiz was a staple in the Red Sox lineup. But it’s time for those who are searching for his replacement to face facts: No one is going to replace Ortiz.

It is true that the Red Sox now have a tremendous amount of young potential. Mookiereplace ortiz Betts nabbed himself a Gold Glove. Xander Bogaerts proved himself as an offensive and defensive asset. Jackie Bradley Jr. finally found his stride at the plate. Andrew Benintendi is poised to take over left field, a position once held by Red Sox legend Ted Williams. There’s no doubt they will soon be a part of another World Series team. None of these players, however, will replace Ortiz.

Ortiz’s love for Boston is what makes him so famous and beloved. Ortiz is not pompous. He never let his teammates slack off. He is a source of pride for all of Boston. Many Hall of Famers can’t claim that status. In fact, Ortiz stands alongside Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Carl Yastrzemski not only as Red Sox legends, but as legends of the game. They weren’t just players who hit .300, accumulated home runs, and led their own teams to the World Series. Like these men, Ortiz came through in clutch situations to win. Who can forget the 2013 ALCS when he smacked that home run into the bullpen?

When Ortiz stood before the Fenway faithful and declared “This is out f–king city!” in the wake of the marathon bombings, he became a beacon of hope, a symbol of endurance in a time of uncertainty. Ortiz’s words gave Bostonians, as well as Americans, the shot in the arm that it needed in the wake of such tragedy.

Like Williams and Yastrzemski Before Him, No One Will Replace Ortiz

I spoke to former Red Sox second baseman Rico Petrocelli last month for an article I’m writing about Carl Yastrzemski. He discussed the pressure Yastrzemski faced when he took Ted Williams’ place in left field. Despite this task, Yaz went on to have a distinguished career of his own. Yaz carved out his own legendary place in Red Sox history and no one can replace him. The same principle applies to David Ortiz.

So stop looking at the upcoming trade deadlines for Ortiz’s replacement. He’s not coming. Like Williams and Yastrzemski before him, no one can replace Ortiz.