We all agree 2012 was a disaster for the Red Sox.
Finishing with a 69–93 record, our beloved stocking-footed anti-heroes suffered their first losing season since 1997 and ended up in last place in the American League East. The team came apart at the seams.
Yet today, Opening Day, as the Sox face the Yankees in enemy territory, it's a new season and a clean slate. Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Adrian Gonzalez and Bobby Valentine are gone. New kids are playing in the park, and a new skipper, John Farrell, helms the good ship Sawx (the second manager two years running).
Meanwhile, back home at Fenway, things are still amiss. Tickets for the April 8 home opener versus Baltimore aren't flying out of the park. In fact, fans will find plenty of seats available for that game, the rest of April — the cruelest month — and the entire season.
At stake: Fenway's Major League record home game sellout out streak of 793 consecutive games (although, technically, that streak probably never existed).
Unless the Sox start winning again, slumping sales will haunt the park like the Curse of the Bambino.
So, to combat the ticket decline, the Sox have hatched plans to woo back fans. The team's "Welcome Back Month" marketing ploy includes two-for-one hotdogs and half price hot chocolate. Management has scheduled more pre-7 p.m. start times, to lure families with kids, who can snag a free meal. And best of all, beer, which used to go for as much as $8.50 for a 12-ounce cup, will now cost five bucks (domestic beer only, alas).
But come on, Sox management! You can win us back with better bait. Make us an offer we can't refuse. Get inventive. Here are some ideas:
1. Designated hugger
With an injured heel, David Ortiz will likely miss the season’s early games. So why not employ the DH slugger as "Designated Hugger"? Ortiz can offer free hugs to girls and boys and, especially to parents, who need a shoulder to cry on after last year's implosion. Weep a little longer, Dad. Big Papi understands.
2. Hit the pitchers
Once per inning, a member of the pitching staff sits over a dunking tank in the bullpen. Selected fans line up to pelt soggy, wadded-up balls of incomprehensible contract legalese. Hit the target, and the likes of Alfredo Aceves or Daniel Bard plunges into a vat of molten Ben Gay. Also, once per month, on "Chicken and Beer Night," either Jon Lester or John Lackey are beer-battered and lightly fried in cooking oil.
3. Valentine voodoo
At the door, the first 1,000 fans will receive an official MLB-sanctioned Bobby Valentine voodoo doll. Poke it with a pin to keep inflicting Bobby pain, wherever he may roam now. During each game in April — aka "Welcome Back Month" — a lucky fan is chosen to perform a ritual cleansing, first burning a sage smudge stick in the dugout, then dousing the flame in a vial of Terry Francona's tobacco spit.
4. Dance, dance
Three selected players take the field in towels, and rock it, "Gangnam Style." The crowd votes for the worst dancer, and the player must donate 100 times his jersey number in dollars to Jimmy Fund. (But at 245 and 243 pounds respectively, Lackey and Andrew Bailey are exempt. No one wants to see these dudes topless.)
5. Free therapy
A team of trained PTSD (Post Traumatic Sports Disorder) specialists will roam the park, moving from section one in the first inning to section 163 by the ninth inning, spending extra time in the bleachers and Green Monster seats. They'll offer free counseling, asking you, "But how does Ryan Dempster's ERA make you feel?" And if this supervised venting doesn't heal your pain, the therapists will administer more beer.
This program aired on April 1, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.