Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports noted on Wednesday afternoon that the Phillies’ attendance is up almost 12,000 fans per game on average this season compared to last year. That is indeed true as Baseball Reference shows. Another 39,861 fans showed up to today’s series finale against the Mets.
After today’s win, the Phillies are 11-6, owning the best record in the National League at the moment. So they have that along with a nearly packed house every home game. It turns out that signing star players is good for business.
The Phillies signed Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million deal in early March, capping off an offseason effort in which they also added Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, J.T. Realmuto, and Jean Segura. Shortly after the Harper signing was announced, the Phillies saw a dramatic surge in ticket and jersey sales.
Let’s check in on the Giants, who were rumored as a possible destination for Harper shortly before he signed with the Phillies. They’re down 6,568 fans per game on average compared to last year. Yikes!
Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.
Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.
Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.
As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.