To all the critics, naysayers and haters: Here’s what you’ve been waiting for…

September 09, 2009 | Drew Forrester

Unlike the Orioles, who NEVER face their critics in an open forum, I will do so with many of you this evening.  In fact, I do it every single day.  It’s called 410-481-1570.  I’ll take your calls anytime between 6am-10am.  

Unlike the Orioles, I have no problem answering questions or comments from people who help put food on my table.  Each of you who read my blog and respond to it help fund Ethan’s college education someday.  For that, I say thank you.  And, I feel you deserve a response when there’s some sort of question about a position I take — particulary when it brushes up against ethics and/or goodwill.

I elected not to personally reply to the blog comments from my earlier blog this morning that referenced the O’s not allowing us to purchase $1.00 tickets from them for next Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay.

Why?  Simple.  I was going to say the same thing 10, 20 or 30 times.  

For every blog response that came in saying, “Come on dude, this was a ploy” or “Drew, you suck for trying to pull this off” or “This was just another attempt by WNST to embarrass the O’s” – I would have offered the exact same response. 

So, here it is, below.

Consider this YOUR answer if you’re one of the critics, naysayers or haters.

If you’re NOT in the hater’s camp, don’t be offended.

If you ARE in that camp, you might be offended, but what else is new?  It is what it is.

Let me start by giving all of you the chronological re-cap of how “See the Birds” was birthed.  If you’re a hater, you can choose to believe this or not.  If you don’t believe it, there’s no sense in going on because you’re just hatin’ to hate.

Nestor and I talked on the phone last Friday night while I was on my way out of town for the weekend.  Somehow we got on the subject of the $1.00 tickets and Nestor said, “They need to promote that more, people would scarf those seats up” and I said, “No one is buying those things…they tried it last year and no one bit on it.”

Nestor said, “What if we spent a week beating the piss out of it on the air and on the web?  Think we could sell a bunch of them for ‘em?”

Me:  ”Sure.  A week?  We could do 500 or 1,000 easily.”

Nestor:  ”Let’s do it.  Let’s put together a weeklong campaign starting next Tuesday and see if we can’t take a boatload of people down there.  We’ll go to The Nest beforehand and support that guy and we’ll straggle up to Pickles or Sliders too and give them some business.  It’ll be fun.  What the hell…they only have 25 days left in the season, let’s make a big deal out of it and sell as many tickets as we can.”

That’s how it started.  I then brought up the fact that we should donate something to the Markakis Foundation and mentioned to Nestor that the Orioles would see the kindness of that gesture and waive the silly convenience charges and any shipping or overnight mail charges since we’d be picking up the tickets and distributing them as a group.  

Quid pro quo:  You sell us the tickets for $1.00 and we’ll give the Markakis Foundation $1.00 in return.

Win-win-win.

There was no conspiracy theory.  No “ploy” or any other hidden agenda.  

Why on earth would any of us waste our time doing a week of radio promotion during the Ravens OPENING WEEK to try and pull off some kind of stunt to embarrass the O’s?  I have football to watch and golf to play this week…I don’t have much time to devote to that kind of tom-foolery.

And, let’s be honest here — this will hurt, but let’s all be men for a second and ‘fess up.  How much more damage can WE do to the Orioles that they haven’t done to themselves this decade?  The team stinks, the attendance is at an all-time low and this time last week, their own manager cited the organization for “lack of professionalism” in a post-game press conference.

They’re doing a fine job embarrassing themselves.  WNST certainly doesn’t need to add to the body count.

We wanted to buy as many tickets as possible and take people to the baseball game. 

Period.

Any conspiracy or contrived theory you might have in your mind is just plain wrong.

I get it, by the way.  A great many of you aren’t WILLING to consider that perhaps, just maybe, the O’s didn’t do the right thing in this case.  If you’re not willing to consider that, you should then at least consider the fact that you’re not able to make a rational decision about the merits of our intentions.  If you hate us that bad, you’re not able to see the reality of what happened.

I’ll be the first to admit that it was me, and ONLY me, that thought the Orioles would sell us the tickets for $1.00.

Nestor and Glenn both said, mockingly almost, that the club wouldn’t sell us the tickets.

But here’s where the issue lies.

Those guys both thought the O’s wouldn’t sell us the tickets because it was a WNST event.  It had nothing to do with the fact that there was some limit or it had to be on-line.  

When we brought the idea public on Tuesday morning, both Nestor and Glenn said, “If it has WNST attached to it, they’re not cooperating.”

Honestly, I thought they would.  Not for any reason other than this:  They need help, the O’s do.  And I figured they’d say to themselves, “Hot damn…we’re looking to move these seats for a buck and a shining knight showed up and took 500 or 1,000 of them off of our hands.”

Let’s all man-up again – take off the Orioles pajamas – and talk logic here.  I know that’s tough, sometimes, but let’s try and do it.

The Orioles make their own ticket rules.  They’re not governed by TicketMaster or any other ticket outlet.  They set the prices of their tickets and, as they displayed for everyone in late August, they can change the ticket price whenever they want, including IN-SEASON.  TicketMaster fees ONLY apply to tickets the Orioles ALLOW TicketMaster to handle.  When you buy a group of tickets from the Orioles, there isn’t a TicketMaster per-ticket service charge applied to those seats.  Season tickets don’t feature any kind of “convenience charge”.

I don’t know much, but I know tickets.  I was involved in ticket sales for the better part of 17 years in the soccer business.  I know how it works, backwards and forwards.  I know all the tricks, the codes you change to make a discount $4.00 instead of $6.00 and I know all about complimentary tickets and how you still have to pay an admission and amusement tax on them even when you give them away.  

The Orioles could sell 5,000 tickets at $1.00 apiece if they wanted to do that.  It has NOTHING to do with TicketMaster and it has NOTHING to do with what they advertised.  They changed the ticket price on those upper reserve seats in August because they wanted to do it.  And, so they did.  

I was absolutely wrong in assuming they’d sell us the tickets for $1.00.  I admit that.  Glenn and Nestor were right and I was wrong.  They didn’t sell us the tickets because they didn’t want WNST doing anything that could even be remotely considered to be a positive gesture on their behalf.  

They’d rather the seats remain empty than WNST do something good for them.  Sad, sad, sad.  But — true, true, true.

Keep in mind, NO ONE is sitting in those seats next week.  I figured – I was wrong, but this is what I thought – the Orioles would say, “You know, that’s a decent gesture.  They’re promoting our Tuesday game for a week FOR FREE and they’re bringing 500 or 1,000 people to the game.  Let’s make this happen and end 2009 on a good note with them and who knows, maybe there’s better days ahead in 2010 for both of us.”

They COULD have done that.  Any of you who say “No, they couldn’t have done that” are either, a) not very smart, b) too proud to admit the O’s handled this wrong, c) despise WNST too much to think we were actually legitimately interested in helping them or, d) all of the above.  My guess?  It’s probably (D) if you really think the O’s couldn’t have done that.

Many of you have said, “Why didn’t you just call the Orioles first?”

Fair question.

Easy answer.

For starters, it never dawned on me to call the Orioles because they don’t return my phone calls.  They don’t return my e-mails. They don’t return my text messages.  They don’t communicate with me and, frankly, I didn’t feel like getting into the phone circle-jerk with them.  I called them last year about the Brian Roberts fund-raiser at University of MD hospital.  No return call. I called them last year about the Jeremy Guthrie Ride-Your-Bike to the ballpark program.  No return call.  I’ve contacted them on numerous occasions over the last 20 months and never got a return call.  

I don’t call them anymore.  Why would I?  

And, as I thought this through, I figured it would be best to go on the air, talk about the idea, see what kind of response I got, and let the response sort of take care of the legitimacy of our efforts and intentions.

If NO ONE called in or e-mailed us to ask about the tickets and how they could buy some, we’d just ditch it.  After all, if a listener-driven event isn’t interesting or compelling to the listeners, why push it?

If a lot of people were interested, the event would speak for itself and, I assumed (wrongly), the O’s would welcome the idea with open arms.

“You guys are going to sell us 500 or 1,000 tickets to the game next Tuesday?  That’s great, we have 20,000 seats to sell up there.  If you’ll take 1,000 off of us, we’d be pleased.  Oh, you’re going to give Nick Markakis’ new foundation some money too? All the better.”

That’s what I ASSUMED the Orioles would say.

And Tuesday morning when the e-mails for ticket purchases starting flying in and the phone lines were jammed, I felt like we had a winner.  The listeners SPOKE loud and clear.  ”Yes, we’ll buy $1.00 tickets and go to the game on Tuesday.”

I assumed (wrongly) the O’s would be thrilled.  They weren’t.

I remember in April of 1994, we (Baltimore Spirit) played the Cleveland Crunch in the NPSL indoor soccer playoffs.  Games 1 and 2 were in Cleveland and Games 3 and 4 were in Baltimore.  I was at the team hotel in Cleveland before Game 1 and my sales VP called and said, “We have kind of a delicate situation here.  The Crunch Fan Club just called the Arena Box Office and asked if they could buy 100 tickets near the Crunch bench for Game #3.  The Box Office told them they had to call us because we’re handling the group sales.  What should we do?”

“Sell them all the tickets they want, wherever they want them,” I replied.  ”We have 3,000 tickets sold for the game.  If they’ll buy 100, sell ‘em.”

I assumed (wrongly, I admit) the O’s, with 20,000 EMPTY seats next Tuesday, wouldn’t even bat an eye when they heard WNST was going to initiate a FREE weeklong promotion to sell a bunch of their $1.00 tickets for $1.00.

When we sold 500 in the first few hours yesterday, I thought it was a grand slam.

It turned out to be a grand fiasco, because late yesterday the O’s informed us we couldn’t sell the tickets and a little while later, the formal “cease and desist letter” showed up from MLB.

The event was dead.

But the critics came to life.

I understand…any chance to piss on WNST is a chance not squandered by many of you.  It’s cool.  Some of you are so whacky in your conspiracy theories it’s laughable.  Contrary to what many of you think, we’re not Satan worshippers and no one at WNST was spotted behind a bush at the grassy knoll.

We tried to take people to the baseball game next Tuesday night.  Fact.

NO ONE ELSE IN TOWN IS GOING TO THE GAMES.  Fact.

WNST stood to make nothing off of this.  Nada.  No money in our pocket at all.  Fact.

We did this in a genuine effort to fill those otherwise unoccupied seats and give the Orioles “found money”.  Fact.

The Orioles could have complied, shook our hand, said “thanks for the help” and all would have been hunky-dory.  Fact.

We assumed – incorrectly – that the Orioles actually wanted to fill those empty seats.

Any discussion about “rules” and “service charges” is just fodder for the Apologists, because the rules and the charges and prices are ALL controlled by the Orioles, as they proved in late August when they changed the price of September non-prime upper reserve seats to just $1.00.  None of their ticket holders approved that.  TicketMaster or FedEx certainly didn’t approve it. The Orioles decided on their own to change their ticket prices.

They control the price, the distribution and all rules governing their tickets.  

They picked 500 as “their number” for the limit of $1.00 ticket purchases.  It could have been 225.  Or 775.  They picked 500.  I don’t know why, I don’t talk to them. 

But as arbitrarily as they changed the ticket price to $1.00 and created a 500 ticket limit, they could have said, “Let’s sell the WNST listeners as many as they want for $1.00.”

They COULD have done that, particularly once they heard the groundswell of support for the event after just a few hours of radio promotion.  

They COULD have done that.  They elected NOT to do it. 

In August, the decision to change the price to $1.00 had NOTHING to do with the price, per-se.  They could have charged .25 for each ticket. 

They just want to sell tickets.  Period.

They just want bodies in seats.  

I don’t blame them, by the way.  It’s a good idea, the September $1.00 ticket offer.

A fact we proved yesterday when we peddled 500 of them before lunchtime.

I nearly pissed myself when I saw someone today on the internet imply we might have been buying them for $1.00 and “scalping” them for $5 or $10.  

Scalping a ticket to a Tuesday night home game against the Rays when the O’s are 35 games out of first place. 

Really?

Honestly?

If only people were that dumb.  Or, I was that smart.

So, there it all is for you fine people.

Those of you who are still haters, knock yourselves out hating on this.

We wanted to take a crew of folks to the ballpark and support the businesses in and around the stadium that are otherwise nearly out of business thanks to 60 nights of “non-business” during the summer months. 

We wanted to support the baseball team.

We were GIVING them money.

We even added in a charitable donation to one of their best players because we were trying to show some legitimate kindness.

The Orioles, per-form, turned abrasive and unprofessional.

I keep trying to remember the last time they did something nice for ME and nothing seems to come to mind.

We tried to do something nice for them – give them FREE money – and somehow, predictably, given the intelligence of some of you, we became the bad guy.  

They can’t sell tickets themselves.

We tried to help them.

And if right now you’re mumbling to yourselves, “The Orioles don’t need WNST’s help”, I’d urge you to look at the attendance figures over the last three years.

They sure as hell do.

They need all the help they can get.

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