Closed-door meetings happen all the time in sports. They’re usually held during a time of panic, when a manager, coach or player feels the need to get everyone’s attention by shutting off the outside world and addressing those who are in the battle together.
Prior to the final game of their series in Tampa Bay last week, the Yankees held a rare closed-door meeting and aired some of their laundry. It worked, albeit briefly, as New York salvaged the final game of the series with a 6-4 win.
It’s time for us to have a closed-door meeting.
Who is “us”, you ask?
Us…the baseball fans of Baltimore.
I’ll go ahead and shut the doors and get it started. I assume you don’t mind if I run the meeting.
Last week, the Orioles announced a drastic reduction in ticket prices for this week’s home series with the Tampa Bay Rays, offering $4.00 and $8.00 seats in hopes of boosting the attendance for arguably one of the biggest three-game sets in Baltimore since 1996 or so.
Let’s all understand something before we get to the meat of the meeting (no pun intended).
This was a DRAMATIC move by the Orioles. I put dramatic in all caps for a reason. This is a team so desperate for an extra buck or two that over the last three years they’ve charged baseball fans MORE money just because you decide on a whim to attend a home game without day-before notice. This is an organization that has taken to “back-dooring” their own tickets to Stub Hub in what can only be termed “professional scalping”. In other words, money and more money are typically all that matters to the Birds when it comes to matters of ticketing.
But then last week’s news was released and the Orioles actually came full circle and publicly told us what most smart people already knew: In order to get fans back, you have to give them a reason. You have to lead them by the hand.
The baseball team, for the first time in as long as I can remember, is now saying “we need you, please.” This, of course, is the organization well known for their motto of “when we win, the fans will come back…wait and see.” Dropping ticket prices and making a public plea for support is as close to a mea culpa as you’re going to get from the Orioles. If you were waiting for a personal apology e-mail, it’s not going to happen. But make no mistake about it: The Orioles are basically saying, now, “We’ll make the first move. Take us up on our kindness and help the team beat Tampa Bay.”
Don’t pay any attention at all to the way they’ve marketed the ticket price drop over the last week. They’ve used the “20 year anniversary of Camden Yards” as a means of connecting the price reduction with the opening of the ballpark in 1992. We all know they wouldn’t be doing this if they were 20 games out of first place. In the past, they’ve offered a handful of upper deck nosebleed seats for $1.00 just to say “we’re trying”, but never before have they reduced GOOD seats.
Anyway, as one Orioles front office staffer remarked to me last week, this move was done in part because the organization was “stunned” (the front office employee’s word, not mine) at the horrible attendance for the White Sox series three weeks ago. When 47,000 people showed up for FOUR important home games at the end of August, the wheels started turning in The Warehouse and panic set in — and rightfully so.
The recently-completed Yankees series sold itself. The club smartly kicked off the 4-games by having the Ripken ceremony on Thursday night and then playoff fever coupled with the New Yorkers who made their way to Baltimore over the weekend added up to a terrific four days of crowds at Camden Yards.
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