The Red Sox are four-deep on the manager depth chart against the Rays

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On Sunday, the benches cleared in a game between the Red Sox and Rays in Florida. The Red Sox weren’t happy that Yunel Escobar stole third base with a five-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. The bad blood continued on Friday night’s game between the two teams, this time in Boston.

In the first inning, Rays starter David Price hit Red Sox DH David Ortiz, prompting home plate umpire Dan Bellino to issue warnings to both benches. This didn’t sit well with Red Sox manager John Farrell, so he came out to argue with Bellino. It’s understandable — the Rays got their chance to throw at someone, while the Red Sox would not be afforded such an opportunity. Farrell was ejected.

Bench coach Torey Lovullo took over for Farrell. Price hit Mike Carp with a pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning, prompting both dugouts to empty. Bellino concluded that Price did not intentionally hit Carp, so he did not eject Price. Lovullo spoke his mind to Bellino before being ejected. Third base coach Brian Butterfield took Lovullo’s spot in the dugout as manager of the Red Sox.

In the top of the sixth, Sox starter Brandon Workman threw behind Rays third baseman Evan Longoria. Bellino ejected Workman for intentionally throwing at a batter, and Butterfield was automatically ejected as well. Hitting coach Greg Colbrunn became the latest acting manager, and Burke Badenhop replaced Workman on the mound.

For those keeping score at home, here are the managers the Red Sox have gone through tonight:

  • John Farrell
  • Torey Luvullo
  • Brian Butterfield
  • Greg Colbrunn

If Colbrunn is ejected, the Red Sox may have to bring back Bobby Valentine. (I shamelessly stole this joke from D.J. Short on Twitter.)

Also of note: the Rays have hit two Red Sox with pitches, and no one has been ejected. The Red Sox have hit no one (but intentionally threw at Longoria, of course) and have had four members ejected. To be fair, however, they did start the whole shebang by getting upset over a very questionable reading of baseball’s unwritten rules.

Minor League Baseball had its worst attendance in 14 years

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Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.

Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.

All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.