A lot of reactions today to our interview on Monday with Frank Coonelly. For the most part, the crowd is split.
-Dejan Kovacevic thinks that “attendance -> spend” is backwards.
-iSportsWeb calls it a backwards business model. And yes, their car analogy was one of the analogies I was addressing in my post about bad analogies and baseball economics.
-WTM posted his views, which are similar to the thoughts I had about the realities for small market teams.
-Kipper at Pittsburgh Sports Tavern has some comments in response to my article. He also has a good comparison between the Pirates and the Steelers/Penguins. The approach the Pirates are taking right now (build through the draft, make minor moves in free agency, let veteran players walk when their time is up) is the same approach the Penguins and Steelers take. The difference is that we’ve seen the other two teams win (which is mostly due to a fair league structure, but also gives credit to the decision making). We’ve yet to see this work for the Pirates. Not that it won’t, but there’s a reason the Penguins and Steelers get a pass, while the Pirates are put under the microscope. The Pens and Steelers have won some trust with their success.
One common theme I noticed from the people who were upset over this, outside of their focus on how bad the Pirates have been, is that they don’t think this should be the way things are done. However, they’re not focusing on how things are actually done in baseball. They’re also presenting Coonelly’s comments as a two step approach, with the increase in attendance being step one, and the increase in spending being step two. There’s a step before all of that, and it involves the Pirates getting better. In fact, that’s what was largely ignored from the end of Coonelly’s quote:
We need to take a meaningful step forward in terms of attendance to reach that payroll number while continuing to invest heavily in our future but I am convinced that the attendance will move quickly once we convince our fans that we are on the right track.
The focus on that last line, and the focus on how other teams in baseball operate, seems to be the difference between group one and the next group. The first group is mis-interpreting what Coonelly said, whether intentional or unintentional, and portraying his comments as “we won’t be doing anything until you start showing up”. They’re also ignoring the reality of baseball, especially for small market teams.
It almost seems like there’s three groups. One group is pointing out the realities of small market baseball, and looking at everything Coonelly said, rather than ignoring key parts of the quote. One group is focused on the way they think things should be, and are missing the key part about how the Pirates aren’t really saying “you act first” to the fans. The final group I call the Brick Tamlans, running around shouting loud noises and holding a hand grenade, while saying things that don’t really make any sense at all in regards to the current topic.
I mentioned this earlier, but I think the wrong question was asked here. The right question would be to ask the fans “would you go to more games if this current group was competitive”? I’d assume the answer would be yes. Then, the next question would go to the Pirates, in the form of “if the team was competitive and attendance increased, would you spend more to keep the team together”? I think we already know the answer, since Coonelly said they would need to see an attendance increase in order to increase spending.