Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

-- Protest Aftermath.

-- Shero continues to make improvements.

---Mixed Message---

There was plenty of coverage on the walkout at PNC Park on June 30th, from blogs as low down the totem pole as mine, to the Worldwide Leader in Sports (except hockey).

The estimates of the number of people who left their seats ranged from 1,000 to 7,000. The number who actually left the stadium were in the low triple digits.

I have so much to say on this topic, none of it relevant (but that's par for the course, so here we go).

1) First, the purpose of the walkout was to demonstrate that fans are tired of padding the pockets of the McNutting Syndicate since most of that money does not go toward improving the on-field product or even beefing up the farm system. We are not getting any long-term bang for our hard-earned buck.

Most of the people who did leave the seats and just hung out in the concourse for the 4th inning, by many reports, bought snacks and drinks and souveniers.


Some folks must have missed the reasoning somewhere along the lines. They must have took it as a "Hey! Let's wear green shirts to a Pirate game and look all rebellious by getting up in the middle of the game."

Or maybe it was that people thought they were there to protest the Pirate players and don't have the foggiest idea about the front office and management of the team. That would be a tragedy, indeed.

In the end, it's just a matter of thinking long-term. As I mentioned in my last entry, I referred to this protest as a "one-day, flash-in-the-pan" event. It does appear that it will be largely forgotten by the end of the Big'n'Rich concert tomorrow night.

I feel a lot of the fans who did participate in the walkout were not envisioning the state of the franchise in two, five, or ten years.

2) Obviously, I feel this round went to the Syndicate, despite the media coverage it received. This is mainly because the national audience saw a fan base whose majority favor the status quo over trying to defeat a parasitic ownership. Then they went back to following their own teams.

There are varying opinions on who won Saturday night.

Pat at WHYGAVS concedes the victory to the Syndicate.

Bones at Honest Wagner chalks one up for the protest.

It makes for a decent debate, but if the ownership is still making more money instead of less, a national spotlight on something that most people who follow baseball were already aware of takes the backseat.

3) In Dejan Kovacevic's Q&A today, he posted a letter he received from a season-ticket holder which reads:

"Hi, Dejan. I am a 20-game-plan holder who did not walk out Saturday night. I realize why some folks chose to protest, and I respect their intentions. However, I heard comments from some of the protesters who called in to a radio talk show after the game who said that it was the real diehard fans who walked out, but it was the casual fans just there for the bobbleheads who stayed seated. I also heard the comment that not many season-ticket holders participated in the protest. To me, the true diehard fans, the ones who really care, aren't the ones that walk out of a meaningless game in June. It's the ones who plop down their hard-earned money in December or January and commit to attending a set number of games. If we, the season-ticket holders, do not like how things are run, we can always cancel our plans, an action that hurts management in a far greater way than a glorified bathroom run does." -- Peter Selednik, Plum

He's right, but he's also foolish in his own way.

A die-hard is one who sticks to his beliefs despite any and all evidence that he's supporting a losing cause. Usually, there is some partial reinforcement packed in there to keep the die-hard feeling justified.

I know it's hard to leave a game when your team has a big lead, but this would have made an even bigger statement. Not to mention that the game, pretty much, was already over. How often does that happen? Golden opportunity missed.

However, in this case, the losing cause is supporting the owners of the franchise. I am a die-hard fan of the team. If the protest had not been organized, I would not have walked out, regardless of the score. I wouldn't have known what it was about.

I don't leave games, ever, regardless of how bad it seems (in fact, today is the 2nd anniversary of my trip to Miller Park where the Pirates were in an 8-2 hole at one point...and won). Refer to the bottom of this post where I call out supposed die-hards.

With respect to Mr. Selednik, willingly putting more money in the Syndicate's pocket is defeating his own purpose. If we were just looking at a 5-year losing streak with the promise of some big free-agent signings or a few studs ready to come up to the mothership in a year or two, I'd be 100% on his side.

But 15 consecutive losing seasons (let's not kid ourselves...they won't rebound in the 2nd half) with the chances to break that streak growing dimmer year by year is something else entirely. Two promises to rebuild the team, only to dump salaries of solid everyday players (Aramis Ramirez) while signing slightly above-average players to ridiculous contracts that we continue to pay for when they haven't been on the team for 3 seasons (Jason Kendall) shows that the judgement and direction of the club is still wildly off course.

And this isn't mentioning when the front office trades away people when their stocks really couldn't be much lower, or drafting the economical choices over potential franchise cornerstones.

4) Finally, to those people at the game who did not participate in the walkout (for whatever reason) and actually had the gall to boo those who did, go play in traffic. This also applies to anyone who was going to walk out but allowed those imbeciles to pressure you back into your seat.

I know my overall goal when I entered sports talk was to eliminate the controversial and confrontational approaches taken by some in the Pittsburgh sports talk media, but this is a grand exception.

Bottom line: The Nuttings are destroying this franchise. The vehicle had already started rolling in the wrong direction by the time they got here, but they've planted their foot down firmly on the gas, keeping the wheel straight. If you don't think that a one-time protest is worth at least trying to send a message, what are you getting out of this Pirates franchise that the rest of us don't know about?

If the Nuttings were using the money to support local charities and youth baseball and things of that nature, there could be some room for argument. But they're spending it on newspapers you likely don't read, upscale resorts you seldom visit, and otherwise using it to create a bigger funnel for themselves.

They are P.T. Barnum, and you, we, are the suckers.

(on a non-rant note, Barnum may not have actually uttered that famous phrase)


Quick hits -

I am officially the last man standing on the Ronny Paulino bandwagon. I asked a question over at WHYGAVS in the comments section...what would it take for Paulino to get back in Pirate fans' good graces. He wittily (and true-ily) said, "Transmogrify himself into Matt Wieters". Extra points for using a 12-letter word.

And there's some crazy rumor that the Mets want Paulino and are willing to part with Paul Lo Duca for him. Old catcher for new catcher? Something on Lo Duca's about to break. Littlefield: Beware ... oh, never mind.

If you look at the sidebar on the Yahoo! Rumors page, the Pirates, are one of 4 teams that does not appear. The others? Kansas City, Houston, and Arizona. As usual, DL is going to wait until the 11th hour to pull whatever moves will draw the ire of the Pirate faithful (that are still left).

---Scoring Free Agents---

Frequent commenter (and Steeltown Angel) Karri, dropped a note just a few minutes after I'd read about it myself about the incredibly productive signings Penguins General Manager Ray Shero.

I mean, Right winger Petr Sykora? VETERAN defenseman Darryl Sydor?

Holy cow.

I'm not completely convinced that Ryan Whitney is worth a 6-year deal, $24 million deal, but even if he's only average, there might be some teams during that time span that wouldn't mind picking him up in a trade deal if they were starving for a blue-liner. If Whitney continues to improve, though, this may be the best move of the three.

Rob Scuderi re-ups, too. He's hit and miss from game to game, but between him and Joe Melichar, I'd take Scuds.

Now, if only Ray Shero would be able to work a deal where we could sell off a relatively expendable player for cash to help move this arena thing along.

I've gotta learn to write down everything I'm thinking during major events like this. I neglected to mention back in March when Mario announced the deal that I still wasn't going to feel completely relaxed on this issue until ground was actually broken.


Anonymous emma said...

Eloquently put. :) Believe me, it was a sobering feeling for everybody walking out to be booed. People around me put on brave faces, waved their hats and yelled back, but it was still dawning on everybody that THERE ARE STILL PIRATE FANS THAT APPARENTLY SUPPORT THE OWNERSHIP. Yiiiikes.

/token baseball commenter who needs to learn more about hockey as half your posts always go over my head :)

7/06/2007 12:33 PM  
Blogger MommyK said...

I don't know jack about sports, other than the undeniable fact that the Baltimore Orioles suck big time. But I do know this: does it matter if you walk out or not if you've already forked over your money?

7/09/2007 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ray Shero is pure genius!

First...He signs Sydor, Sykora and Sabourin...

Next...He re-signs Whitney, Scuderi, Talbot and Christensen...

Then...He signs Crosby to a 5-Year extension...

Lastly...(but not least)He re-signs Colby Armstrong...

(Not forgetting to mention signing David Brown, Alex Goligoski, Chris Minard and Nathan Smith - who will go to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton)


If only the Pirates were
taken care of like this...


7/13/2007 8:36 AM  

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