The following letter was drafted and sent by members of the Red Sox mailing list (firstname.lastname@example.org) to the Office of the Commissioner and to John Harrington to express concerns about the radical realignment plan that was under consideration. The opinions expressed are solely those of the undersigned, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of all of the list members.
October 3, 1997
From: Concerned members of the Internet Red Sox mailing list, email@example.com
To: John Harrington
Dear Mr. Harrington and the realignment committee:
We, the undersigned, are members of the Internet's Boston Red Sox mailing list, a group of over 600 loyal fans that have been discussing the Red Sox, and baseball in general for over 7 years. But we are also more than just Boston fans - we are students of the game of baseball. Many of us have followed the game for decades, and have spent many hours becoming well versed in the history, structure, and lore of the game. Because of this fervor we hold for the sport and for our team, we want to express our opinions on the important issue of realignment that the committee will be deciding on October 15.
Certainly, you have received many letters on this topic. The radical realignment that has been proposed (and even some of the less radical plans) has stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy throughout baseball. The elimination of the identity of the American and National leagues, the geographical restructuring, and potential reworking of traditional rivalries all strike deeply into a fan's heart. However, rather than repeat the litany of pros and cons, we wish to focus on a single issue that appears to be critical to the argument in favor of realignment. That issue is the belief that geographical realignment will lead to a healthier baseball industry through the development of regional rivalries, less travel, and more favorable start times for televising away games.
There is a key point that appears to have been overlooked in this debate - baseball, and the fan base it attracts, is less and less reliant on regional characteristics than ever before. Team loyalties, once developed, are deeply rooted, and stay with a person for years, often for life. However, the increasing mobility of the general population means that the fan base for a team becomes diffuse over time as fans that first develop local loyalties move elsewhere. For instance, as one of several Red Sox fans in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm dismayed by the possibility of radical realignment if it reduces the opportunity to see the Sox play in person here in Oakland.
Baseball's current configuration of two leagues that each span the country, with a schedule that brings each team to every other team in the league during the season gives the displaced fan a chance to renew the fires of fandom for another year. Radical realignment would strip the prodigal fan of the ability to see his or her team in person without cross-country travel. We think that teams are drawing much more of a national fan base than they realize, and the demands of modern society make it a phenomenon that's likely to produce larger pools of distant fans than ever before.
Furthermore, recent improvements in the availability of baseball games worldwide means that fans no longer arise in local media markets. Indeed, many of the members of the Red Sox list developed their affinities for the Bosox without having lived near Boston. Our ranks include fans from across the nation - indeed, we have international representation from at least four continents. The wider television exposure through cable networks like ESPN and satellite providers like DirecTV enlarge the fan base by drawing in those who would have never seen your team otherwise, which makes it easier than ever to become a fan of a specific team from any spot on the globe. These television deals represent a larger and larger percentage of revenues for the industry, and most of the customers who are buying these services are not next door to the ballpark.
We are, in some sense, the forgotten fans. We may not hold season tickets, but we do represent a significant and dependable source of revenue to our teams. We buy insignia merchandise, we make pilgrimages to our home cities to root for our teams alongside kindred spirits, we send away for the yearbooks and media guides, and we pay for the lucrative premium services that bring televised games being played far away into our homes. We indirectly act as an extension of your marketing departments. We turn others to our cause - we coax our friends into going to games with us; we retell the stories about the come-from-behind wins in the breakroom; we debate, argue, and root for the team in electronic forums like the Internet Red Sox mailing list. And most importantly, we bring up our children to be fans as well. Ignore our deeply rooted loyalties, and despite their strength, they will wither and die. Some of those alienated fans may turn to the local team for solace, but the intensity that accompanies a lifetime's fandom will not be there. Others will turn away from the sport entirely, and spend their time and money elsewhere.
We do not wish to lose our connection with our chosen team. Continue to give us the opportunity the see our team a few times per year in our new homes. Reject the plans calling for geographical realignment, and retain the current league structure and scheduling as much as possible. Do not let us down, and thank you for hearing us.
Keith Woolner firstname.lastname@example.org
(The following list of people all electronically signed this document)
Michael Joseph Byrnes <mbyrnes@leland.Stanford.EDU>
"Rich Grace" <NCBG24@nhbs.navy.osd.mil>
"Dave Rowe" <email@example.com>
Chris Garosi <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Michael J.King Sr." <email@example.com>
"Derek W. Miles" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
David Dupre <email@example.com>
"Tony K. Olsen" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Gary Williams" <email@example.com>
Robert Brooks <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Vijay Ramakrishnan <email@example.com>
George Kentros <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Terrence Walsh <email@example.com>
"David M. Solet" <dmsolet@yuma.Princeton.EDU>
Jenny Cline <JnJCline@aol.com>
"Carl and Adina Sherer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Steve Dailey <sdailey@Adobe.COM>
Chuck Harrison <email@example.com>
Tim Kelly <biotmkx@panther.Gsu.EDU>
Brian Field <Brian.Field@wcb.gov.ns.ca>
Michael Rawdon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
TBrooks@cccpp.com (Ted Brooks)
email@example.com (John Chandy)
Bill Gerstein <WHG1@vrd.com>
firstname.lastname@example.org (Ron Peck)
Melissa Sinclair <EGGWASCCCY.CCYNWR1.email@example.com>
"Steve Ahlcrona" <bespin@MAIL.UCONECT.NET>
firstname.lastname@example.org (Andy Andres)