Since the news hit the media about the Red Sox pitchers having a couple of brews on days they were not in the rotation, the uproar and absurd comments have been aplenty. I don’t typically write about players’ behaviors or activities, because that really isn’t my area. However, a few people have asked me if this negatively affects the marketing of the team. Does the behavior hurt the image of the Red Sox being fun, kid-friendly, and a team that supports a family environment?
O ye of short-term memory: In 2004, there was talk of the players downing shots of Jack Daniels in the clubhouse prior to games – by players who were active. There was a little swirl of pshaw when that occurred, but the buzz really had no stamina to turn into a roar. Why? Because the team won its first World Series in 89 years, that’s why. The team won; period. If this year’s team won and didn’t have the largest collapse in the history of the franchise and the league, the “holier than thou” folks would have been the only ones to complain, and their voices would have faded fast as well.
So my answer is that this is great fodder for the newspapers, sports radio, and the water cooler, but it will not be the direct cause to negatively affect revenue in any way. By the time spring training comes around, people will be chomping at the bit for Red Sox baseball once again. Once the first pitch is tossed, the snide remarks will follow, but that will be the end of it. Is it a PR headache? Yes; the ownership does not want to deal with this type of crap. Are the pundits in controversy heaven? Sure. But what does that mean for marketing and revenue? Absolutely nothing that will make any difference.
Nothing, of course, unless you are the gypsy vendor in the street selling the Red Sox Drinking Team T-shirts ~ that guy might make a little extra cash (and don’t forget to send me my cut for the idea). In addition, there are many, many more drunks in the stands who make it a non-family atmosphere. The only way to make it an absolute family outing is to cut beer sales completely, and we all know that will never happen (nor am I suggesting it should). Maybe even a little team/broadcast sponsorship: “This clubhouse run brought to you by the King of Beers.”
The Red Sox brass may clean house and pretend that the beer drinking was the reason, because it behooves them to do so. It perpetuates an image that fits with provincial Bostonians. But the fact of the matter is if they make changes, it’s not because of beer drinking or marketing problems; it’s because they feel it’s time for a change, to reset the pins to get the right chemistry back in order to win. If beer drinking occurred and the team went on to win the World Series, the folks drinking the beer would be looked upon favorably as the guys who loosened things up during the stretch and got everyone together as a team.
So let’s not fool ourselves, the issue is not about beer or fried chicken in the clubhouse, it’s about choking and losing. Marketing and revenues do not falter after a year or two of losing, especially with a well-built cash cow like the Red Sox. It will take a lot more for them to feel the effects than a little clubhouse “brew-ha-ha.” Everyone can have some fun with the jabs, and the jokes, but at the end of the day, it’s just another reason to talk about the Red Sox. So, have a Schlitz and a smile and play ball.