It doesn’t take much to realize that you can order bobbleheads from Asia for $3 a piece and then add $8 to the cost of a ticket and try to prod 30,000 people to line up early for a Dylan Bundy trinket, or spend a-few-bucks-a-piece on some semi-clever, fan-voted-on T-shirts to give away. But even the Buck Showalter snow globes were limp last month.
Maybe the fans didn’t want a piece of swag? Maybe Buck Showalter isn’t the draw he once was in Baltimore? Maybe last place doesn’t help? Maybe it’s the cost of the tickets? Maybe it’s all of the above and more?
But you really might want to consider the two things that made the franchise significant enough that your old man thought he’d get a statue built simply for buying it: winning and community recruitment.
“We’re the Orioles. You’re lucky to have us. Here are the tickets at full price – including the walk-up surcharge on game nights. We’re in first place and now YOU’RE going to pay for it.”
That’s what you did a few years ago when you won.
Now, you guys – no doubt while your father wasn’t looking – have decided that kids should get in for free while you lose in the triple digits this summer and give away all of your best players.
A genius first step!
“Kids get in free” is a nice move even though it further pissed off every one of your Major League Baseball partners by completely devaluing your product – not to mention inviting lots of future little Yankees and Red Sox fans to Baltimore.
(And good luck trying to charge anyone under 12 ever again for a ticket. Guessing you didn’t think that one all the way through…)
I’ve heard plenty of moms (including in my yoga studio) bragging about how “kids free” makes the Orioles an option that it wouldn’t have been in the past on a Saturday or Sunday. So, kudos, for becoming a sitter’s option but once you get them to the ballpark it’s what you do with them that matters.
A better team on the field.
A better value for the fans.
And, as my media pal and your sometimes MASN employee Mark Viviano said recently: “Sound, long-range decisions that are well-communicated.”
You need to create a path and tell the citizens, the politicians, the businesses, the fans, the rest of the baseball world that things have changed with the Angelos name.
And then prove it.
You need a real chain of command.
You need to show some core competency in owning and running a Major League Baseball franchise.
You aren’t winning the World Series next year – or any time soon. And please spare me the “we’re going to be like the Astros” bullshit. Fixing the baseball ops is a miracle-down-the-line strategy to winning over fans. You have no immediate solution on the field other than blind faith.
Start by controlling what you can control.
Right now, I’d suggest you start by trying to be what your father couldn’t be: nice.
On Day One when you officially “take over” I’ll give you the best advice my mom ever gave me: be kind to people.
And then the best you can do is attempt something that approaches transparency and set forth a strategy with a credible leader and a path that makes sense.
You need the community to buy in. You need people like me to buy in and think you are decent people and the antithesis of what your father represented to anyone who posed a legitimate question.
This isn’t rocket science: be nice to people. As Lenny Moore once said, “That’s free of charge – kindness! Doesn’t cost a penny!”
Have an appetite to compete, to win, to care more than the fans do about a championship and a parade. Have pride in the outcome and be out in front of the wins – and more importantly, the many losses.
Take “ownership” in being the owner.
Reach out to the community with your players. The players are the product. The citizens need to CARE about your organization, your people, your brand, your success and your pain.
When the Orioles do well, every bar and restaurant does well. Be a good citizen.
Smile. You are wealthy. You run a baseball team. This should be fun. And if it’s not, you should sell the team now and just take the money. Trust me, the folks in New York at Major League Baseball would be delighted with that strategy and it might save them the time from trying to oust you.
(By the way, if I were in Vegas – or Jersey or Delaware or wherever you’ll be making money off of legalized gambling moving forward – I’d take a flyer on the rumors that Rob Manfred and his heavies are going to prefer and enact someone else to fly the Birds in the future. But, again, you’re here to change that narrative.)
And while we’re discussing “leadership” and flow charts and organizations, your first foray into involvement in this realm has certainly not been given glowing remarks by anyone in or around the organization.
Your kinship and apparent bromance with Brady Anderson might work for you because of your comfort and adulation of his baseball prowess and athletic jockularity but if you’re going to make him the centerpiece of leadership in your entire organization, most everyone in the industry would tell you that’s a big mistake.
But it’s yours to make. We all trust at our own risk. I’ll have a #DearOrioles letter for Brady coming soon. I always liked Brady. I knew Brady very well when I was a real media member. A charming, engaging Southern California man. He was my favorite Orioles player, too, even though my son always preferred Mike Mussina.
This would be a great time for any other organization to “blow it up” and “build it back” and all of that.
But who wants to work for an ownership that employs Brady Anderson as its moving force knowing he’ll get whatever he wants in the end and has your private ear and confidence?
You do know that I’m not the one who called him “Brady Angelos” first, right?
Is he in the locker room? In the minors or the majors? Does he wear a suit or a jock? Is he management or a coach? A pitching coach or a strength and nutrition coordinator? Is he a minor-league strategist or a major-league scout? An advocate for the players or a pawn for