Wanna know why the Orioles can’t sell tickets? Here’s why…

May 12, 2010 | Drew Forrester

Orioles back home after a 7-game road trip.

Cliff Lee on the mound for the Mariners. 

“Brian Matusz T-Shirt Night”.

Discount upper deck tickets.

It all made for an extremely attractive May home game for the Orioles at OPACY on Tuesday Night. 

So how many tickets were purchased?  12,614

Yep, that’s it…12,614

Now, we all know how many people REALLY showed up and sat in their seats.  Roughly 4,000 according to most accounts. 

But that’s understandable.  It was a miserable night, with rain, cold temperatures and a bad baseball team conspiring to keep ticket holders away.  I get it.  I wouldn’t have gone last night either.  I have enough t-shirts.

The story isn’t how many people showed up or how many tickets were sold.

The story is this:  Following last night’s game, MASN showed a brief promotional commercial in which they highlighted what Brian Matusz did on Tuesday morning.  Yesterday, Matusz donned a Baltimore City firefighter’s outfit and went out on a fire truck and “learned how to be a fireman”.

And the MASN TV crew was there to capture it all.

And they’re going to show the whole thing on Friday night. 

That should be an interesting few minutes of TV.

And that – Matusz spending a couple of hours on Tuesday learning how to be a fireman – is PRECISELY why 12,614 people bought tickets to Tuesday night’s home game.

And that – Matusz in a fireman’s outfit – is PRECISELY why the team’s ticket sales continue to suffer.

The Orioles marketing/media braintrusts had two options on Tuesday.

Option #1 – Have Matusz visit 8 local radio stations on Tuesday morning from, say, 8am until 11am.  He takes a bunch of t-shirts with him, a handful of tickets to upcoming games and he talks about his career and how excited he is to watch Cliff Lee in person tonight from the dugout.  You could also have Matusz visit the local TV stations in town for a quick 3-minute hit…think Don and Marty, Jamie Costello and the folks at Channel 45 and Channel 11 wouldn’t love to have Matusz on the air with them for a couple of minutes? 

You take 3 hours or so, have an intern drive Matusz around town, and you use your rock-star-to-be pitcher to help spread the word about this 8-game homestand.

That’s Option #1.

Option #2 -  You put Matusz in a fireman’s uniform and you send him out with a fire truck for a staged 30-minute “lesson” on how to be a fireman.

And you film that for Friday night’s MASN broadcast.

Which option makes the most sense to you? 

Right.

Me too.

Option #1, of course.

The worst kept secret in town over the last three weeks is that the Orioles have started giving radio stations in town free tickets for them to give away on the air.  They gave a bunch of tickets away for the Thursday home game against the Yankees just to try and balance out the crowd. 

So it’s obvious the O’s are keenly aware they need more people in the seats.

And with an 8-game homestand on their doorstep, the Orioles had the chance on Tuesday to send out one of their most marketable young faces and use him to help promote the upcoming games.

Instead, they put him in a fireman’s outfit.

Somehow, of course, this will be WNST’s fault.  Tom Underhill will offer a comment to this blog in which he’ll say “all you keep doing is harping on the same thing over and over.”

And Tom is right.  I have harped on this subject time and time again over the last few years because the team constantly does stuff like this — they squander potentially strong marketing endeavors in lieu of doing something cute for the benefit of their TV network. 

Silly.

Amateurish.

And another reason why it’s hard to give the front office a pass.

I’m a dummy and I know how to make better use of Brian Matusz’s time than to dress him up like a Saturday morning cartoon character. 

Of course, the Apologists will rush to the aid of the team and say, “Stop making such a big deal about the Matusz thing…as soon as the team wins, the fans will come back.”

Well, maybe they will.

Maybe, though, they won’t win soon.

And in that case, what are you going to do in the meantime?

Are you going to try and market the players the right way and keep the fans interested?  Or are you going to dress them up like they’re going to a Halloween party?

I know what the Orioles are doing now — and I know it’s NOT working.

I don’t know much, but I know that. 

12,614 tickets purchased last night backs me up on that.

And so does putting your future marquee pitcher in a costume on a Tuesday morning.

No other media member in town will roast them for the Matusz-fireman charade, but I sure as hell will.  People around town constantly harangue me and/or WNST because we’re “unfair” to the team.  Bulls**t.  I just call it like it is.  WNST isn’t the problem.  The Orioles not knowing how to market their players and their team is the problem.

And that’s not a low blow…it’s a fact.

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