Monday, July 02, 2007

It's about bobbleheads, not baseball

Had enough, Pittsburgh?

Apparently not.

Only an estimated 1,000 attendees left their seats during the fourth inning at the Saturday night protest. I was one of them.

I participated because I’m a loyalist, contrary to what Bob Nutting and some wackjob fans define loyalty as. [For a solid recap of differing fan opinions on the protest read Dan Majors story in today's PG]

I can’t stop buying tickets or listening to games. I’m a diehard. Being a Pirates fan - like being a fanatic for any team - is not a rational behavior. Telling me to stop being a fan is like telling a Catholic who is upset with the priest-abuse scandal to stop attending church. But seriously folks, baseball is much more important - and rational - than religion.

Even if I stopped attending, listening to, or watching games, I will not impact baseball economics. Baseball's revenue sharing structure is the greatest hinderance to producing a winning franchise. The lower the Pirates local revenues are (ticket sales, TV contracts), the greater their share of national revenues.

A hypothetical for you: Let's say Bob Nutting spends $60 million on team payroll. The club wins an additional ten games but is still a relatively lousy 79-83. More tickets and goodies are sold. The television contract should be more lucrative. The Pirates make more money, right?

Nutting's piece of revenue sharing will decrease because its based on local revenues. Their newfound money must match their operating costs, which have increased by $20 million. It's a risky proposition and one could argue it's better than the profiteering that's going on right now. But it's a business and Nutting can run it as he sees fit.

I can handle a lower payroll, if I knew the organization was headed in the right direction. That's simply not the case. There has been a dearth of minor-league talent since Littlefield took over, a plethora of questionable baseball moves (signing Burnitz, Randa, et al), and a lack of investment in Latin America or the amateur draft (Matt Wieters, anyone?), The Pirates have produced a culture without accountability. I do not want to stand idly by and accept losing. I want to scream in anguish!

And despite my hatred for the Axis of Evil (Tracy, Littlebrain, McNutting) I’ll probably attend two more games this week at $5 a pop (gotta love those scalpers). I go for Pirates baseball, not bobbleheads, beach blankets, and pierogie races. These casual fans have forgotten about the game. And the season-ticket holder has been hoodwinked, too. It's all about the distractions.

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