Boston Sports Review: Betting on the Sox

Those who bought a couch from Jordan's Furniture back in April are probably feeling quite comfortable as they watch the Red Sox from that new couch. As most people probably know by now, Jordan's offered a full refund on any couch, dining table, or bed bought before April 16th, if the Red Sox win the World Series. Sure, anything could happen the rest of the season, but the start to this year must at least make them feel pretty good.
An Illinois furniture store had a similar offer in the case of a Cubs World Series victory, though Cubs fans are probably not feeling quite so optimistic about that contest. Of course, none of these contests are a big risk for the companies involved. In fact, Jordan's was able to take out enough insurance so that they don't actually have to root against the Red Sox.

While there is some question about the legality of such promotions -- how is this really different than putting a bet down on the Red Sox? -- these promotions are becoming more common. Back in April, the Red Sox performance could have even affected your wedding plans. That's when Alpha Omega Jewelers had a special offer for all engagement rings purchased on the days of Red Sox home games.

If a Red Sox player threw a no-hitter on the day you bought the ring, then you would have gotten the ring for free. After all, there's nothing quite as romantic as "Honey, will you marry me? ... Hey, did you catch the Sox score?" So basically the ideal day for a Red Sox fan would have been to buy an engagement ring, propose to the girlfriend at the game complete with commentary from the Rem Dawg, have her say yes, and then have Curt Schilling throw a no-hitter, so that the ring was free. That's what you call a win-win scenario.

A grand slam wouldn't have been bad either. If that happened on the day you bought the ring, you would have gotten a $1,000 refund. Even a simple home run would have given you a $500 refund. First, there was Babe Ruth hitting a home run for a sick child. These days, you can ask Manny Ramirez to hit a home run in order for you to win a discount on jewelry, which somehow seems appropriate.

Contests have long been a part of the game. A friend once gave me a CD of old baseball radio broadcasts, on which there was a 1957 Brooklyn Dodgers game. Lucky Cigarettes was the major sponsor that day, and so after a home run, I heard this from a young Vin Scully: "And for the veterans at the VA Hospital another thousand free Lucky's along with that home run." You read that right. After every home run, Lucky actually sent free cigarettes to hospital patients, because, you know, they cared.

Some of these contests have incredibly long odds. For example, NESN had one of the most ridiculous promotions last year with the Chevy Triple Play challenge. In this one, in order to win a new truck, the Red Sox not only had to get a triple play during a game, but your name also had to be picked out of a hat. Usually, with odds like that, winners at least get a million dollars, but in this case the prize was only a truck.

Personally, I think they should have more realistic contests. We could have the A-Rod Infidelity Eighth. If there are any new revelations about Alex Rodriguez's infidelity during the eighth inning, every fan wins a free Halloween mask. Or perhaps any time Manny Ramirez takes a bathroom break inside the Green Monster during a game, one lucky fan would win the chance to play left field for a third of an inning.

Not surprisingly, in the Chevy contest, no one won a free truck, though Chevy certainly got some good advertising out of the deal. With such astronomical odds, you might just as well give out a prize whenever someone gets struck by lightning. "Welcome back. It's the Damnation Fourth. If any member of the Yankees is struck by lightning or otherwise smited by God, Janice Smith of Somerville wins a free truck."

Now there's a contest we could all enjoy.


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