At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Round Up: Nelson “Heat Seeking” Cruz and the Boston Soap Opera

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 11, 2011

Photo: Dallas Morning News

It is 8:46 p.m. EST and Nelson Cruz is circling the bases on a walk-off grand slam ending a ballgame that began 4 hours & 26 minutes ago.  Nelson is immensely popular among the Arlington faithful.  Nelson is good.  Nelson is a masher.

This was news to me in April.  At the Rangers home opener, 167 games ago, I watched Texas spank Jon Lester and my Red Sox, 9 – 5, at the Ballpark at Arlington.  It was a treat to personally experience this marvel of a stadium on Opening Day, to take stock of Ranger Fans, their 3 foot tall Margaritas, their Nolan Ryan Aged Beef Barbecue, the nonsensical yet mind bending centerfield office condominiums, the raucous-yet-clean-mouthed fans, and a signs that said “WE LOVE YOU NELLIE !”.

Nellie ?  Nellie Who ?  Nellie Fox.  Nellie Figueroa.  Nellie Briles.  Nellie Rockefeller.  Who ?

Nelson the Masher.  Nuking Nellie.  The Arlington Assassin.  The Crucifier from Monte Cristi.  Thunderclap Nelson.  Heat Seeking Cruz. 

That Nelson Cruz.

31-year-old Nelson Cruz is not going to the HOF, but he has averaged 28 HR’s over the last 3 years, was an All Star in 2009, bats .270 lifetime, and has been an enduring bargain, making about $400,000 a year for the last 4 years until finally  jumping to $3.6 Million in 2011.

He has now hit three dramatic HR’s in this 2011 post season for the Texas Rangers.

Nellie significantly increased his free agent salary potential when he took Ryan Perry yard for the walk-off in the 11th, not to mention the game tying HR he belted off Max Scherzer in the 7th inning, not to mention the game winner he hit off Verlander in Game 1 of this ALCS.

I should have known Nellie was a rain maker when I saw the Love You sign.  And when he hit a game tying HR on Opening Day.

Hats off to you Nellie.  May your post-season Free Agency also be a Big Blast and may they keep you in the Ranger outfield for years to come.

******************

The Boston Soap Opera continues to play every day on WEEI and everywhere else in Beantown.  Francona is gone.  Theo may be negotiating with the Cubs.  Ben Cherrington may be the next Boston GM.  Dave Martinez could be the new Manager.  All those who leave us are being run out of town with a stench for the ages and a cloud of shame following them.

Terry Francona was discharged after leading the Red Sox to a .634 record in May, June, July & August.  At that pace, the Sox could have won 102 games over a full season.  For those 4 superior months they lived up to their preseason billing.  The starters were good enough.  The bullpen was tight.  Bard didn’t allow a Run for 2 months.  Pap was better than expected.  Even the catchers did better than predicted.  The Sox were a dominating team.

Terry Francona was not a different manager in April & September than he was in the middle months.  The culprit is the damaging injury to Clay Buchholz, the fading of young Daniel Bard, the albatross of the Lackey contract, and an aging & nicked up roster. A 39 year old catcher got 40% of the games, and a 44 year old knuckler became a rotation regular. The Rays have the youngest roster in the A.L..  The Red Sox have the oldest. 

Francona deserved a Pitching Coach that could motivate the staff.  He did not  deserve a farm system devoid of starting pitching.   He deserved the backing of Henry & Werner.

Francona deserved better.  Period.

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Talk Radio Dudes repeatedly mention how plummeting ratings at NESN financially hurt Messrs. Henry and Werner.

I can explain how that works.

If Sports Authority, e.g.,  is told that a Sox game will pull a 7.0 rating, a rate is negotiated to reach that audience with a .30 second spot.  Using an estimate of $2,000 per rating point,   if Sports Authority purchases 3 spots during the broadcast at that rate, the per-game investment is $42,000.

The next day, the overnight ratings are received.   If the ratings are less than a 7.0, NESN owes Sports Authority the difference.  Let’s say the overnight rating turns out to be a 6.0.   NESN now owes Sports Authority $6,000 in the form of FREE .30 spots on the same kind of broadcast.

That’s how it works.

Thus, plummeting ratings dilute the monetization of TV spots.

This can be very hurtful.  Assuming a cost per point of just $1,000, and a total of seventy-two .30 second spots per 3 hour game, and a 1 point drop in ratings for 150 NESN games per season, the net effective loss in advertising dollars is $ 10,800, 000 per year.

That’s conservative.  NESN’s rating could be off several rating points, and ad revenues could be off in the multiple $10 millions since the bubble years of 2004 to 2007.

Someday, I hope, the public will get a thorough look at the insides of the Boston Baseball profit machine.   The stakes are huge.  The story will be riveting.

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