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A letter from a disappointed Astros fan

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Yesterday I wrote about the fallout from the sign-stealing scandal and in part of that I wrote about the subset of online Astros fans who, for whatever reason, have decided to go all-in with a cognitive dissonance-laden defense of the team, alternating between “they did nothing wrong!” and “everyone was doing the same thing!” depending upon what suits their interests best at the given moment.

I did note in that post that, no, not all Astros fans are like that. Indeed, given how social media tends to favor those who are at the most extreme ends of any given issue, that crowd is probably a small subset at best. I do think it’s important to highlight those fans who are not insane, however. Those fans who are disappointed in the team for which they root for cheating and who have been even more disappointed by the Astros’ response to all of this.

To that end I’m sharing with you a letter a long-time Astros fan shared with me this morning. He sent it to the team in late January, after some Astros players appeared at the team’s Fan Fest and deflected questions and responsibility about the scandal. Given that, since that time, the team has largely doubled down on that stance and the team’s owner has denied basic reality, claiming that sign-stealing did not aid the team, I can’t imagine the sentiment has changed that much.

Here’s the letter. I have cropped out the sender’s name at his request:

It may be fair to call this fan’s response extreme in the other direction. I mean, no one is demanding that Astros fans burn their merch and totally give up on the team as a result of all of this. No one should be ashamed to be an Astros fan. Indeed, Astros fans are victims in all of this themselves. But it is inescapable that there are at least some fans who have this sort of reaction to all of this.

No matter what you think of that, it’s not the unhinged people who yell online and passionately defend cheating that Major League Baseball should be worrying about. It’s normal, everyday fans who, quite understandably, are put off by all of this and who, as a result, are going to withdraw their time, attention and investment in baseball to greater or lesser degrees.

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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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.