The other side speaks: No need to reward the fans, “just win baby”

May 19, 2010 | Drew Forrester

And this is how the other side sees things.

Yesterday, I spoke on the air and wrote about my experience on Monday night when I meandered into a soggy Camden Yards to watch the Orioles and Royals do battle in a mid-May thriller.

Here’s the blog from yesterday in case you missed it.  The spirit of the whole thing?  The Orioles should be going out of their way to reward the folks who still come to the games these days.  On virtually any weeknight, gobs and gobs of fans – probably at least ten thousand this week alone – simply don’t attend the game even though they have a ticket for said game.  And even though the O’s, by league mandate, report “tickets sold” as their attendance figure, we all know by our eyes alone that the announced number and the real figure of butts-in-seats is almost never consistent. Frankly, it’s like that in a lot of major league baseball cities these days.  People are staying away.

So with that, I’ve been encouraging the Orioles to try and do something – occasionally even a spur of the moment kind of thing – to reward the folks who actually DO show up now to watch this collection of double-bogey-blues otherwise known as OUR Orioles.  Monday and Tuesday night, in total, I’d guess no more than 7,000 actual live, breathing human beings watched the 2 games with Kansas City.  The weather was crappy to say the least and all the losing and the dreadful start had people simply saying, “Nah…I’ll stay home and watch LOST or American Idol.”

And what did the Orioles do for the folks who braved the elements this week?  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  I suggested something as simple, yet rewarding, as providing free coffee and/or hot chocolate on two dreary, half-chilly nights.  I even remarked that perhaps giving out a “Nice Weather is Coming” ticket coupon in which the bearer could attend a June weeknight game for $3.00 might be a sufficient method of saying “thank you” to those who came out on Monday or Tuesday.

Just do SOMETHING to tell the people who showed up that you appreciate their support.

Via a local baseball blog in town, I engaged a few of their regulars when the discussion – started by the blog’s content editor – centered on the meager gathering of family and friends on Monday night.

One of those O’s fans barked back, “The only thing that people care about is winning baseball.  Losing is what drove everyone away.  And when they win, that’s what will bring everyone back.”

But here, for your reading pleasure, was the coup de grace of the entire discussion.  It comes from a young man who goes by the name of “Dan The Man”.  It’s HIS idea of why rewarding the fans isn’t the right thing to do.

dan the man

Andrew, I couldn’t agree with you more.

Win.

That’s it.

If we’re 10 games above .500 right now and the ballpark is packed, are we talking about free coffee and coupons? No, of course we’re not. There’s no f**king way we’re talking about free coffee and coupons if we’re winning. None.

Win.

The O’s don’t owe me a f**king coupon. I’ll come to the ballpark because I love the team, and I’ll see everyone else there when they’re winning again. So be it. Keep your coupon and other such lame marketing ploy. And I’ll gladly pay an extra $2 just because it means instead of paying $8 to be in the best ballpark in American, I’m paying $10. Inflation is a bitch, but sh*t, that’s life. If it’s one thing I hate it’s talking Marketing instead of Sports. Jesus… we’re sports fans, not Organization anti-fans with an entitlement complex.

 

And that, for your enjoyment, is how the other side thinks.

Memo to Dan, since he’s clearly not sophisticated enough to absorb and digest this on his own:

Item 1:  The team, Dan, is NOT winning right now.

Item 2:  The team, Dan, has not won for 12 seasons prior to this one.

Item 3:  The team, Dan, will most likely not be winning again this time next year or, likely, even the year after that.

Son, this is what you don’t get.  You can’t say “the team just needs to win and everything will be OK” because, in case you didn’t see line items 1, 2 and 3 above, they’re NOT winning these days.

And if they COULD win, by magic or some other form of wizardry, they WOULD be winning.

So, while the team ISN’T winning, should they not focus on at least rewarding the fan base of faithful followers who pay money (no matter what the price) to watch the team perform?

I literally laugh out loud when I read stuff like Dan authored:  ”The only thing that matters is winning.”

If the ONLY thing that mattered to the Orioles was winning, they’d be doing something about that for, say, the last half dozen years or so when they’ve bottomed out in the American League East.

I do believe they’d LIKE to win.  Does the franchise REALLY, REALLY want to do what’s necessary to win?  Obviously not.  I offer you Exhibit A as evidence:  His name?  Garrett Atkins.

But the concept lost on a lot of these neanderthals in town is this (and they just can’t seem to grasp this f**king issue):  While the team continues to lose, shouldn’t they be doing something extra for the folks who are still footing the bill?

Shouldn’t they?

Of course they should.

But not according to Dan The Man.  He thinks nothing matters except winning.  Forget doing something nice for the fans.  Forget rewarding the folks who are still showing up.  Let’s reward the people who AREN’T coming anymore, you know, the 45,000 who took a pass on Monday night’s game.  In lieu of investing some sweat equity on Monday or Tuesday and doing something nice for the fans, let’s just say “winning is all that matters” and put treating the ticket buyers the right way on the back burner.

That’s solid thinking.

What would it have taken to give the 1,800 in attendance on Monday night a free coffee?  Or a free hot chocolate?  Or one of the 5,000 Brian Matusz t-shirts they had left over from last Tuesday’s rain-plagued game with the Mariners?

I completely understand no one else in town talks about this kind of stuff but me.  In fact, I like being smarter than everyone else in the room when it comes to the Orioles and their silly media relations and community-embracing efforts.  My left nipple forgot more about marketing than those cats over in the Warehouse will EVER know.  And that’s not a low blow…it’s a fact.

So while they continue to try and stuff it up everyone’s backsides by proving that “winning solves everything”, I’ll continue to urge them to treat the fans with some extra-special-kindness in the meantime.  They pissed away two GOLDEN opportunities on Monday and Tuesday night and I’m the one who calls them out on it and the uber-fans like Dan and Andrew are the ones who say, “None of this would matter — coupons, coffee, and hot chocolate — if the team was winning.”

Reminder:  The Team= they’re NOT winning.

And by the way, I agree that winning would help get people interested in the team again.  But I also know there are thousands of people out there who have divorced the Orioles and have the paperwork to show for it.  The paperwork is otherwise known as “Ravens Tickets”.

But winning baseball would help, no doubt.  There aren’t many people like me left…you know, a dummy who goes down there on a Monday night in the rain to see the two worst teams in the league slop it out at a bush-league-ramped-up ticket price of $10.00.

Honestly, comically…the O’s should have paid ALL OF US who went on Monday $10.00 to sit there through that thing.

But winning WOULD help some, there’s no doubt.

That’s why I wanted them to sign Mark Teixeira or Adam LaRoche or Matt Holliday.

I want the team to win.

But I’m smart enough to know they’re NOT winning now and they’re probably NOT winning anytime soon.  That’s the reality.  Sitting around in my orange pajamas like Dan and about 3000 other diehards saying, “Just wait until they win and everything gets fixed” is a convenient way of giving the team a free pass from their obligation right now to treat the fans BETTER than they ever have before…because these folks are the ones still spending money on the team at the ballpark.

Class is now over.

You may return to your regularly scheduled programming:  ”Just wait until we win.”

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