The streak is not in jeopardy! The Pirates are horrible and clearly headed to a 15th straight losing season. Now one season shy of the Phillies' record, angry Pirates fans everywhere continue to hit up blogs and newspapers with angry letters. Some Pirates fans are planning a protest June 30th. Others are jumping ship. Beyond it all, none of these expressions of anger are going to get the ownership group to spend more money or to sell the team to an owner who will. Pirates fans continue to wonder how owner Bob Nutting continues to profit off a losing team with declining attendance.
To me its pretty clear how the Nuttings are getting away with this: Corporate ticket holders and sponsors. These are the people who are trying to keep Pittsburgh a "major league city." Pirates ticket sellers convince these people that they need to keep a part of Pittsburgh going, in order to do that PNC Park must keep a respectable amount of season ticket holders and a respectable attendance average.
The only reason PNC avoids looking like a Marlins game on many nights comes from the corporate support. I'm guessing at least 4,000 of the season-tickets sold by the Pirates in 2007 have gone to businesses and corporations. If we could convince the corporate world to drop these season ticket purchases and drop some of their sponsorships and advertising, only then would the Pirates ownership start to get the point.
Another important step in pressuring the group is to make it impossible for Bob Nutting or Kevin McClatchy to attend games or be in public. Its not as important to go after McClatchy because he doesn't really control that much. If you see him at Giant Eagle don't throw an orange at his head. If you see him in his private homeplate box during a game, however, maybe you should throw a hot dog in his direction. Or a bobblehead. Or anything you've got.
As for Nutting, if you see that motherfucker in public punch him in the face. Slash his tires. If you spot him at a Pirate game, lead an angry mob of fans through security and get the motherfucker. Do it for a national audience to see. You must force the guy to sell this team. You think a negative article in the paper affects them at this point? Hell no! We need to be more proactive and way more intense. You think the Phillies owner would sit among the fan base behind home plate ever, let alone with a team that has had a losing record in 15 straight seasons? Thats a residing HELL NO!
My friends who are big Phillies fans actually have the nerve to say to me that the Phillies won't win a championship until they get new owners. When I look at them in disbelief, they say "whatever, the Pirates don't matter." And I can't blame them for feeling that way. We are pathetic. We somehow get convinced every year that this is the team that could break .500. WOW! We may have a team that wins as much as it loses, isn't that great? The Steelers have been in the playoffs 10 times since the Pirates last had a winning record. They have played in the AFC title game 6 times and gone to the Superbowl twice, winning once. The Penguins made 8 more playoff appearances before fireselling a rebuilding their team through the draft. What a concept? Drafting the best, most talented players and becoming a great team. They're now poised for another long run of playoff berths.
What I want to get across here too is that it is partially our fault the team sucks and the owners suck. Sure we sold out playoff games, but prior to PNC Park opening the highest average attendance the Pirates had in a season was 1991 with 25,500. Despite having another great playoff team the following season the attendance dropped to 22,600. Just 3 years later in 1995 attendance had dropped to an average of 12,575(yes I realize this followed the strike). I'm not blaming Pirates fans for not wanting to watch the '95 club, but its not a great sign for your team as a baseball town that attendance dropped 3,000 per game from one playoff season to the next. We basically showed future owners that we may average more during winning seasons, but these seasons would require more investment on their part. There was no incentive to keep the team good from year to year because there was no evidence that support from fans would be consistent.
Following McClatchy's saving of the team we were just happy to have a ballclub. It still seems that way in Pittsburgh 11 years later. We're angry but what are we really doing about it? Writing to Pirate Q&A and writing rants like this on a blog will not force the Pirates hand in any way at all. Heres what all Pirates fans need to do from this moment forward. Among our duties are the following:
1) DON'T GO TO GAMES, if you get free tickets tailgate and don't spend a cent on their beer or other concessions
2) If you decide you must spend money on tickets to a game, again don't spend your money on concessions
3) If you awake and find yourself at a Pirates game, boo them the whole time. Create clever signs that attack ownership. If you spot McClatchy or Nutting, THROW SOMETHING AT THEM! Throw anything you've got. If we all start following this practice they'll have to go into hiding and they might see that Pittsburgh fans actually mean business. In fact just throw stuff on the field the whole game. Make them have to delay parts of games because irate yinzers threw trash on the field.
4) Don't vote Jason Bay, Adam Laroche, or any other mediocre Pirates into the All-Star game. If Jason Bay were to take the place of any deserving player in the game it would be a tragedy to the sport of baseball. He had one good month last season and has played a total of about a week and a half of good baseball this year. I don't need to see him strike out looking twice in the All-Star game to remind me of how much we suck.
5) Get rid of Fratere's mini-me Greg Brown. Please. Theres no evidence he has anything to do with the Pirates losing, but Brown seems like he might just be doing his part to hold the team back. I mean if you have AAA announcer, you're team probably is pretty similar to a AAA club. Plus if I hear "Bay Day," "Jack Flash," or "This is Big Country" again my head will explode. The ONLY positive part of losing Ramirez was that I never have to hear "That's an Arama-dama-ding-dong" ever again.
6) Push Bob Walk for manager. I really want to see this happen. Bob has all the tools the pirates are lacking in a manager. Hes passionate. He pays attention to detail. He has a sweet mullet. He doesn't make excuses. He will call out players and make them pay for mistakes. Did I mention he has a mullet? He will set goals for the team. He has the sweetest bobblehead doll yet. Oh ye and he has a mullet.
7) Influence politicians to go after the Pirates ownership for their lack of effort to compete. Write major league baseball daily. Write papers and reporters across the United States. Write ESPN. Write Mark Cuban. Bring as much attention as you can possibly generate. If these people think you, their audience, care about the situation they might just cover it.
8) Kidnap Bud Selig. Drive him to Pittsburgh. Tie him up in your basement. Force him to watch every minute of every Pirate game the rest of the season. Don't show him a single Brewers clip. Any time there is no game on, indefinitely repeat clips of Jason Bay looking at called third strikes, all of Ronny Paulino's at-bats, every breaking ball thrown to Adam Laroche this year, and the collection of horrendous Duke, Maholm, Armas starts. It should only take a few days before his head explodes or he finally remembers the Pirates exist and forces the hand of ownership.
If we do even half of the above things, maybe we'll have some hope of the team being sold to Mark Cuban. Clearly until the team is sold we don't have a chance. Get proactive Pirate fans. This rant does nothing unless people read and decide they need to do a few of the things here. Get malicious. Get violent. You'd do it for the Stillers, you need to bring that same passion to the streets and the ballpark if you ever want to see a decent Pirates team again.