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Time to give back, Mr. John Henry

When our Olde Town Team’s overseers salary-dumped those players onto the LA Dodgers’s payroll, they reduced payroll costs by some $260 million, a sharp reversal of form for a team that over the last decade has been a prime mover in the runaway salary race among baseball’s “free agents” where the numbers have gone through the roof.

In recent years, the Red Sox –Yankees rivalry boasted of the two highest payroll teams in the league. This year, other teams added players to the mix: Detroit’s Fielder ($214m/9 years) and the LA Angels Pujols ($240m/10 years). The escalation of high-paid salaries continues to grow unabated, but the Red Sox have veered off the track, saving themselves a bucket of dough, and making it likely that for the foreseeable future, they will be well down the list of teams with the highest payrolls.

For the legions of Boston baseball fans, the deflation of salaries should be applauded. No longer will we be asked to have patience with over-paid and under-performing ballplayers. This mega-trade could be the start of something special and in keeping with that thinking, we have a modest suggestion for team owner John Henry & Co.:
While you go about rebuilding your ballclub with moderately-priced athletes willing to play for the love of the game, why not use the occasion to drastically reduce the prices you charge the public for the privilege of rooting for your’s and their team.

The price of tickets under the current ownership has soared, and much of that money was spent on overpaying the Becketts, Gonzaleses, and Crawfords on this team – with unsatisfactory results of late.

So, Mr. Henry, as you save yourself all these millions of dollars over the coming years, why not share some of the windfall with your loyal fanbase – the families who cannot afford to bring their kids to a game, the season ticket holders who have remained loyal even as their costly seat money was passed along to players who managed to make a habit of failure.

The sad fact is that the “Fenway Experience” has been over-hyped for far too long and the bogus claim that dungy old Fenway Park is baseball’s “most beloved ballpark” is myth-making, pure and simple. People pay their good money to see professional athletes play at a championship level. But the product on the field has not measured up, and for several years has been a disappointment. The 100th anniversary pre-game ceremonies were stirring, but the oxygen seemed to leave the park as soon as the Yankees came to bat. Too often, the fun at Fenway ends when the game begins.

The good people of “Red Sox Nation” (another myth) have supported your underperforming team for years, and now it’s time for some payback. If you can save $260 million by merely shipping a few players out of town, then how about sharing the benefits and spreading the wealth. The logic is simple: You used ticket receipts to pay these salaries; now the expenses are lessened, so the need for big bucks from the fans has been reduced.

For starters, how about dropping the price of tickets, charging less for a bottle of water, reducing the cost of a Fenway Frank to 3 bucks. While you’re at it, why not persuade those robber baron parking lot owners to abandon their predatory price-gouging for parking a car. It should not cost $35- 75 to park a car for a game.

Take the lead, Mr. Henry, and give us back a team we can root for, at prices we can live with. You made a good beginning last weekend, but there’s a real danger that our support for the Sox might vanish -- just like those three stooges who left for LA last Saturday.

 – Ed Forry