At some point very soon, possibly even Wednesday night, the Red Sox will clinch the 2018 AL East crown. Their magic number over the second place Yankees is two. Once the Red Sox clinch the division title, the team plans to unveil a banner at Fenway Park. 

There's just one problem: They don't have the banner.

According to Travis Anderson of the Boston Globe, the 2018 AL East championship banner fell off the vendor's truck on a Massachusetts highway recently, and a Red Sox fan named Louie Iacuzzi and his buddies retrieved it. Now they're holding the sign hostage. They'll give the banner to the Red Sox once their demands at met. From Anderson:

"We want to return it, we're trying to do the right thing, but I'm not just going to hand it to them, know what I mean?" Iacuzzi said.

Asked if he wanted cash from the Red Sox, he said, "Yes, financial [compensation], maybe some tickets, we want something. We don't know what we want. We want to return it, 100 percent, but we would like to get something."

Iacuzzi didn't have a specific asking price in mind as of Wednesday morning.

"We want to find out what the thing's worth," he said. "We don't know."

I'm not sure what Iacuzzi and his buddies expect out of this deal, but my hunch is they're going to end up disappointed. It's a division title banner. It's not a World Series banner or even an AL pennant banner. The Red Sox have two options here:

  1. Meet Iacuzzi's demands, whatever they are.
  2. Have another banner made.

Whatever's cheaper is what's going to happen. And who knows, the banner might even be insured. 

I hope Iacuzzi and his buddies get some sweet postseason tickets out of this deal. Can't beat postseason baseball in Fenway Park. I just wouldn't hold my breath though. The banner seems easily replaceable. eBay might be the way to go.

UPDATE: The banner has been returned to the Red Sox, a team spokesperson confirmed to the Boston Globe. Our hero and his buddies received nothing in return. 

The Sox confirmed shortly before 4 p.m. that the banner, which they plan to unveil outside Fenway if they clinch the American League East crown as expected, was in their possession. A team spokeswoman said the people who returned it received nothing in exchange for the item

As expected, a disappointing return for Iacuzzi. What are the odds the conversation went "return our banner before we report it stolen?" Pretty good, I'd say.