By Andy Young
The fickle nature of consumers, disagreements over public policy, unexpected natural disasters, supply chain inconsistencies, and the ongoing greed of corporate management, elected officials and laborers alike make the job of accurately predicting America’s immediate or long-term economic future all but impossible.
Who’s responsible for this? Well, there’s plenty of credit to go around, but the primary contributor to our region’s impending good fiscal fortunes is Boston’s professional baseball club.
Twelve of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams will take part in postseason play, which starts this week. The Red Sox aren’t one of them, but where the local economy is concerned that’s good news. Really good news.
Last fall Boston won the American League’s wild card playoff game, 6-2, over their hated rivals, the New York Yankees, in a 3-hour, 13-minute contest. That catapulted them into a best-of-five division series against the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that finished eight games ahead of Boston during the regular season.
But after a three-hour, six-minute 5-0 shutout loss in Game 1, the Sox stormed back to defeat the Rays in three straight contests, games which lasted, in order, 3 hours and 56 minutes, 5 hours and 14 minutes, and 3 hours and 25 minutes. Alas, Boston’s Cinderella season ended in the American League Championship series when they were eliminated by the Houston Astros in six games that lasted, in order, 4:07, 4:08, 3:16, 4:04, 3:32, and 3:28.
The team’s falling short of the World Series was no doubt disappointing to Red Sox Nation and its legions of fervent zealots, all of whom are, for whatever reason(s) utterly devoted to the well-paid, constantly-changing mercenaries who wear their team’s uniform each year. But those people aren’t only ardent Red Sox supporters; they’re also the welders, doctors, nurses, electricians, bartenders, merchants, laborers, teachers, police officers, stockbrokers, farmers, shipbuilders, web managers, and others who comprise the area’s consumers and producers of goods and services. In short, they’re the people who make the economy go.
Last fall, Red Sox fans who watched every televised minute of their team’s playoff run spent a total of 41 hours and 29 minutes in front of electronic screens. Tack on the pre- and post-game shows, plus endless hours of commentary from TV talking heads and talk radio blowhards, and it’s no wonder so many New England businesses slumped last October.
Sleep-deprived employees called in sick in droves, and the bleary-eyed workers who bothered to show up after all those late nights were, not surprisingly, of limited use. Those who saw playoff games at Fenway Park in person paid hundreds of dollars for the privilege, and nearly all of that money left the local economy, pocketed by already wealthy players and management, most of whom live (and spend) elsewhere in the off-season.
But all that money will stay in New England this fall. Not only that, but Boston’s failure to qualify for this year’s postseason guarantees employers a motivated, well-rested labor force capable of higher levels of productivity than it was a year ago.
And there’s more good news: given the results of this season’s first four New England Patriot football games, northern New England’s economic good times are likely to continue for the foreseeable future! <