Big Lead Sports Bar

7/01/2007

All Things Walkout - UPDATED!

Well, the Pirates Walkout came and went on Saturday night, and much to the chagrin of many, the McNutting group is still in charge. The Post Gazette and Trib both estimated that 1,000 of the 26,959 fans in attendance left their seats in the 3rd inning, and about 100-200 actually left the stadium.

Statement made?

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 in-person recaps and questions are coming in, and I've posted a few of the better ones I've received so far:
Here's an excellent in-person recap from Dennis O.:
"I went to the game on Saturday night, wearing my green shirt and planning on walking out long before I got there. I made my way over to the little podium/stage the Fans For Change group had set up. I was handed all kinds of papers including an overview of the group and walkout, a quote from Kevin McClatchy with some payroll figures , as well as some Bob Nutting money. Although I didn't stick around for the Dock Ellis speech, I got some pictures of him being interviewed by local news stations.

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.
Then there was a sign hanging from the left field rotunda. I watched as they put it up only to have it ripped off by stadium security with the guys who put it up being lead away. Here are the banner rules:

"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."
Here's another great in-person recap from Adam the Penn State Fan:
1. More than anything else, it seemed like people were looking for a leader. I noticed a larger than normal up and move after the 2nd, and lots of people seemed like they were wondering whether they should leave at the beginning or end of the 3rd. I was in right, and noticed many, many, many green shirts that ended up not leaving. I thought to myself "God, if everyone wearing green in this stadium gets up, we'd be in good shape" Buster Olney called it "poorly organized", and I tend to agree, not to knock the guys who planned it, though.

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.
A fresh recap from "Capitol Man":
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.
As for my opinion, I'll start with a question from Brad and go from there:
Q from Brad:
Wait a minute, I'm confused. The Pirates wanted no coverage of the walkout, so they bitch-slap FSN into a Bob Nutting interview/puff piece to try and put a positive spin on things (with Marshall Harris, nonetheless, quite possibly the worst on-air sports guy in the 'burgh), and then Nutting comes out and makes mention of the walkout...did I miss something here? WTF?
A:
In typical Pirate fashion, they made this as awkward as possible. Was it worth all of their time and effort to further publicize the event when only 100-200 people ended up leaving? Probably not. If anything, their initial reaction of censorship only added fuel to the organizers' fire. Then, realizing that they were making a mistake, they throw Nutting out there with another BS statement about disappointment and the organization's focus on winning games:
"I appreciate the passion of all of our fans and their frustrations with the team’s performance. Frankly, we all share in this frustration. Everyone throughout the organization understands the expectation and need to perform.

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.

7 comments:

Pacman said...

I think doing the walkout on a booblehead night was a bad idea.

First of all, there were so many people there that just cared about the bobble head that you couldn't notice that the real fans left. If they did this on a wenesday against a team like the Reds it would have been much more effictive.

The bobblehead crowd doesn't understand why people left the game. Those kind of people have no idea about the bad drafts and bad free agent pick ups. All they care about is a stupid piece of plastic and something to do on a friday.

Atleast ESPN talked about it. That's pretty big for the Pirates. ESPN usually ignores the Pirates or just makes fun of them. It seemed that several analyst were on the fans side.

Hopefully the protests continue. We have to do something, or we may never see a .500 + team again.

Matt H said...

These zombie fans are what Nutting & the gang of robebrs love. They spend money and support that crapola organization without blinking an eye.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Adam left out the part about him taking acid with Doc Ellis and then reciting every statistic from the 1986 Fiesta Bowl over and over again for 7 consecutive hours, and then being asked to leave for exposing the JoePa tattoo on his ass.

Sheena Beaston said...

i texted my bro (PSaMP) as soon as i saw the Lisa Horton scramble as play 6 on the WWL's Top Ten on the Saturday 11pm edition.

I could not believe my eyes/ears.

Smells like T'Henley was threatening to break knees, or else.....

(great interview w/him by the way...)

CapitolMAN said...

You can't tell Pirate fans to stop attending games.

I participated in the protest because I’m an extremely loyal fan who wanted to vent. I won’t stop buying tickets or listening to games. I’m a diehard. Sports fandom 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.

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). And I'll go for Pirates baseball, not bobbleheads, beach blankets, and pierogie races.

Sean said...

Adam - I actually enjoyed your review of the game/protest. Any chance you will stop writing about Penn State (please)?

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

I have not been emotionally invested in a Bucco game since the "Freak Show Buccos" of 1997 were eliminated by Houston that September.

Now, I take the Buccos for what they are - pure comedy...from the top to the bottom.

No, baseball's rev share plan is not perfect, but I'm sick and tired of hearing fans cry the small market blues. This organization is mismanaged. If they had $500 million to spend on their payroll next year, they would still suck.