Fan reaction has been mixed, as this Pittsburgh Sports Insider thread will illustrate. One fan commented to the Trib that "It ain't gonna make anyone forget Tiananmen Square."
Unfortunately, there was no Bob Walk bobblehead giveaway at Tiananmen Square
The actual game went well with the Buccos pounding the ball and getting a solid start from Gorzelanny. Here was the crowd after two innings. Once the 3rd inning ended about 1000 or 2000 people headed for the concourse area, myself included. Not as much I thought would walk out and to be honest you could barely notice there was any difference. For as much hype as it got on TV leading up to the game I guess it could be called a failure but the fact it got the hype in the first place is a good start for the Fans For Change group.
"Please do not place banners/signs in the eyesight of the batter and/or hanging over the outfield fences. Banners should in no way infringe on the sightlines of other PNC Park Guests. The banners/signs must be 4' x 8' or smaller in size. Banners/signs may not be placed anywhere inside the playing field, be commercial, political, derogatory or obscene as determined by the Pirates. The Pirates reserve the right to remove any banner/sign that violates these guidelines."
None of them were broken therefore the sign was wrongfully taken down by the staff. If I were these guys I would have never allowed for them to take my sign down if it did not break and rules and just because it said something they didn't like.
At least the night ended with a win."
2. I know this is sad, but I ended up not getting up. The few in my section that got up were quickly met with signs protesting the protesters. But the thing that influenced me to stay the most is that I wanted to see exactly what was going to happen. I had a perfect view of the entire park, and I wanted to see what was going to go down.
3. I think the thing that hurt the protest the most was the Pirates getting out to a lead. A big lead. People were happy. If it was 4-0 Nats after 3, things may have turned out better (for the protesters). I noticed A LOT of people in green shirts, even the ones they gave away, staying put. I guess it was more of an "Ehhhhh...People aren't getting up....I've got my sandwich....We're winning....screw it".
4. Seems as if the Nuttings have now built a generation of Zombie fans if you will. I was sitting behind a typical pony tailed, hygiene-lacking, uneducated Yinzer, who sat there and kept saying "I....I love the Pirates....I'm gonna support them no matter what". Perhaps the style of protest was the biggest problem. It was perceived by many as a walkout on the team, not the ownership. I think many of us here are surprised at the lack of participation, because we feel so strongly about it. We read into the moves as messages from ownership. The average fan doesn't, whether we like it or not. Is it sad that the mean Pirate IQ around here has plummeted? Yes, but the next time the die hards try to pull something like this off, there needs to be better information provided. Hand out pamphlets at the entrances or something. The media was a big help, but they are obligated to present both sides of a story. If protester propaganda was created, maybe more people would have understood.
5. The initial response seems to be that this was a failure, but I really think it succeeded. ESPN covered it. That's a victory in itself. Part of me wonders if the Yankees were watching. They effectively pay our players now, and I think the Pirates BEST shot would be the big city owners coming after Bob and Kevin. Someone in a big city is gonna notice what is happening to their revenue sharing money, and they'll be pissed. And God knows the Big Boy owners get what they want.
6. In a totally unrelated to the protest nugget, tonight, Baseball Tonight had their "June Gems" and they inserted 6 announcer clips to add a little spice. 4 of the 6 were Greg Brown. Wow.
7. Now back to the protest coverage. ESPN had John Buccigross do the Pirate highlights tonight on SPORTSCENTER. He did a superb job. In that little lead in he did, he nailed management for everything we would have if we were in the same position. Trades, bad signings, and the draft "OOOOOO the draft" as he said it. John is a Pittsburgh Kid, and you could tell he was speaking from the heart there. In the top plays, they showed the freaking Pittsburgh Passion. Someone over there pulls some strings for Pittsburgh.
I have not lost faith in the team or our core group of young players. There is still a lot of baseball to be played. Our focus as an organization remains on winning games.
Finally, it is important to point out the immense appreciation I have for the continued loyalty and support from all of our fans."
While I realize that Nutting was merely attempting to put out a fire, statements like this are as hollow and meaningless as they come. Frustration, expectations, winning games, blah, blah, blah. They can pay us as much lip service as they want, but when they had a chance to actually make a real statement and draft Matt Wieters, they passed him over for Daniel Moskos...you know, the pitcher that's appears to have already made a reference to his boss as a "dumbass".
If you ask me, the draft was the straw that broke the camel's back. And when you figure in the timing of the subsequent national embarrassment at Yankee Stadium that weekend, it should be no surprise that we're at the point of fans holding public protests.
Speaking from the heart, I'm very tired of talking about the Pirates. We can slice and dice them 100 different ways. We can break down their worst moves. We can spew our dislike for the management. We can mock "We Will" and lampoon their awful players. But this is one joke that's become old. At this point, I feel like a hack by ripping on any facet of the Pirates' operation. It's been done and done and done some more. "Pirates suck" jokes and columns are about as fresh as Bengal arrest one-liners.
I realize that many of you are Pirate fans and truly pull for the team. But I'm starting to believe that actual Pirate fans are vastly outnumbered by the newly-minted phrase I've heard so many times this week: the Pirates Customer. If the Pirates are so concerned with entertaining the crowd through endless promotions (this week: LIVE on Tuesday! BIG AND RICH on Wednesday!), maybe I'll just cover those from now on. No recaps of games, no analysis, just coverage of all the other crap that the Pirates put out there. Maybe a price guide of all the Pirates bobbleheads. Or a top-10 list of the greatest Zambelli Fireworks performances of all time. A PNC Park cuisine review, perhaps? Or maybe a weekly column based on the Pierogi Race?
I hope you see my sarcasm, because I'm laying it on incredibly thick. A mere glance at the ridiculous list above shows you how the Pirates have abandoned baseball as priority one a long time ago. For their sake, I'm just glad they have PNC Park, because they might be drawing crowds less than the 200 that walked out without it. As for me, I was a Pirates season-ticket holder in 2000 and 2001, when the promise of winning because of a new stadium suckered me in. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 15 times, shame on me. I will never become a Pirates Customer.