Sunday, March 14, 2010

Was I Watching a Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Game or a PBS Pledge Drive?

This afternoon, I watched a spring training game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees on the MLB Network which was carrying the Pirates telecast.

For the first time in my life I wasn't sure if I was watching baseball or a pledge drive on PBS.

Pirates broadcasters Steve Blass and Tim Neverett spent more time pushing Pirates season tickets than describing the proceedings on the field.

In between innings they showed Pirates employees on the phones taking orders for season tickets. Blass and Neverett thanked those who purchased season tickets by name.

Some season ticket holders were given inducements such as taking batting practice at PNC Park or getting an autographed ball from Bill Mazeroski.

Blass said, "If you want to come to a Pirates game we'll make something work for you." The Pirates are doing everything but paying people to come see games.

Needless to say this doesn't happen in Red Sox Nation.

Of course, if I lived in the Pittsburgh area I would certainly consider some of the deals. You can get tickets to all 81 Pirates home games starting at $399. A premium box seat at Fenway Park costs $328. If you spend $246 that will get you into 41 Pirates home games. Twenty home games will set you back $140 while ten games will cost $72.

I don't blame the Pirates for trying to get people to come to PNC Park anyway they can. But bargain or no bargain, the Pirates will not get people to come to their games unless they put a good product out on the field. The Bucs haven't had a winning season since 1992. They certainly cannot trade half the team as they did last season. Nobody has any illusions about winning the NL Wild Card but a competitive team would help their cause tremendously.

That said the Pirates beat the Yankees 10-5. Bobby Crosby, a former AL Rookie of the Year and castoff from the Oakland Athletics, hit two home runs and a double after replacing an injured Ronny Cedeno in the 3rd inning. If he plays like that during the regular season he could become Pittsburgh's other Crosby. But one spring training game only tells you so much.

I suspect there will be more pledge drives in the Pirates future.

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