Forget Fireworks Night—The Pirates need more fireworks on the field (July 4)

JOSH BELL had 26 home runs in 2017. This year, the long ball is not there for Bell, as he’s hit just five home runs as of July 1. (AP PHOTO)

Hey, boys and girls, I sorta, kinda feel as if I am conducting a “symphony” with an orchestra pit full of empty chairs trying to please an audience that may possibly be tone deaf—but such is the risk of being a sportswriter. There are now rumors floating about that Pirates infielder Josh Harrison and the often injured, but gritty starting catcher of the Buccos, Francisco Cervelli, are being considered as “trade bait.”
What does a player have to do to elicit loyalty from the Pirates’ fan base as well as the ownership group? Well, folks, I was in New York recently and I sat down and chatted with a few of my “scribe” friends and I am going to tell “yinz” that the conversation was as actor “Arte” Johnson’s character used to say on television’s Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, “very interesting.”
“Aubrey,” my one colleague said, “it’s not how many people live in a market that determines its size, it is the disposable income available to that particular demographic and where they spend those dollars.”
That was just a small part of the conversation. An April 5, 2016 an article penned by Elyssa Kirkham of GOBankingRates and published on said this: “Some MLB stadiums cater to baseball fans with affordable tickets and great food, but others play hardball with fans’ wallets. The average cost of spending the day at the ballpark is $77.92 for two people, according to a GOBankingRates study of MLB stadium prices. This total includes the following costs: Two tickets, $41.41, two hot dogs, $8.73, two beers, $11.89, parking, $15.89.”
The article also points out that PNC Park, the home of the Pirates, is the sixth least expensive ballpark to take in a game with “fans paying an average total price of $62.43 per game for: two tickets $29.93, two hot dogs, $3.25 ,two beers: $11, parking: $15.”
From a marketing perspective the article goes on to say that: “Pittsburgh Pirates fans are gearing up to build on the franchise’s rich history, which includes notable baseball players such as early baseball legend Honus Wagner, pitcher Willie Stargell, and the first Latin American National Baseball Hall of Famer, Roberto Clemente. Fans attending games at PNC Park can get cheaper season tickets that average just under $15 a game, and beer and hot dogs are also relatively inexpensive.”
Now hear this. When the present and future performances as well as the marketing of any sports franchise is based mostly on past achievements, the chance for present and future success may be in jeopardy, especially when the majority of the fan base rebels almost any time that there is a significant increase in prices.
The Pirates have had enough bobblehead, T-shirt, backpack giveaways and fireworks nights. There needs to be some fireworks on the field, ya think? Suicide squeezes, hit-and-runs, stuff like that. When a runner is trying to steal a base, the batter should swing through the ball on almost every occasion to try at the very least to provide a covert distraction so that the attempt at a stolen base would have a higher percentage of success, just basic stuff. Leaving men on base with an anemic run production rate is the result of today’s Pirates. The “rich” history of the Pirates is not going to help the starting and relief pitching of the current ball club.
Let’s face it. If the fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates want to see the team retain some of their young future stars, they are going to have to dig deep…into their pockets…or continue buying those Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski jerseys so that they can feel good about Pirates baseball.
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