The Pittsburgh Pirates are 5 games back in the Division race, playing their best baseball of the season and have nearly their full compliment of high end talent back in the lineup. They have won 9 of their last 11 games with a couple of walk off wins, along with a couple come from behind wins. They have just won two straight against the Brewers and need just 1 more win in the next two to maintain their position. While All of this has taken place, the local print and sports talk media … including the Pirates Flagship radio station is promoting negative stories. Take a look at these topics.
- Fans hot and cold relationship with Gerrit Cole (by the way, this topic was nothing short of ridiculous)
- Fans should not have cheered Marte upon his return
- Fans should boo first, then cheer. Express your displeasure with him.
- Fans sending wrong message to Marte by cheering him
- Can’t take this team seriously because they are still under .500
- This team should move McCutchen or Cole Now while they are both playing well.
- Attendance and viewership being down last two seasons (coincidentally Pens Cup Runs sucked up nearly 20 games of the early season, it just worth mentioning)
- Cole’s stats are comparable to former Pirate Pitcher Charlie Morton
The Media wants to talk about why more fans aren’t going to games. Well, there is no doubt the slow start, Marte’s PED issue, and Kang not being on the team has fed that monster. Not to mention the fans continued frustration with Ownership will always be a conversation driver. But the constant ridicule from the Local Media I believe has also driven a wedge between the Ownership/Team and their fan base.
Here is something else to consider. Pirates Play by play announcer, Greg Brown could not wait to mention how Pittsburgh is a Baseball town when the Pirates were having their recent winning seasons. I love the city of Pittsburgh, and this is no shot at the fans because there are some terrific baseball fans but Pittsburgh is a Winners town. They follow winners. When the Pens are winning and have major talent, they sell out. When the Steelers are really contending for Championships, the stadium is full and sold out every game. When the Pirates were playing well and winning as they did a couple years back, they were averaging nearly 30k fans per game. But when the Pens did not have Sid and were not winning, they were averaging 10-12k fans per night. When the Steelers are .500 or below their were empty seats… and after the Pirates struggled last year and started slow this year, we see a decrease in excitement, viewership, and attendance. Yep, go figure. No Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh is not a Bobblehead town, it’s a “Winners Town.”
Moral of this story is, Pirates need to win and they will have fans, If not, it will be back to friends and family night. The same goes for the other teams in this town… with in reason of course. Although I believe the Pirates situation is a little worse because of the fans utter hatred for Owner Bob Nutting. The fan base should actually dislike the league more because it was that entity that created this unfair playing field in which small market teams have to go all in and then rebuild losing for many seasons.
Baseball is just not set up for a smaller market team to compete every year and that is what the Pirates are trying to do, with a really small budget.
As for the Media, the fact that the Moral Police of 93.7 TheFan in Pittsburgh consisting of Andrew Fillipponi and PG Columnist Ron Cook decided to tell fans how they should act or react with regards to the return of Marte was just outrageous. Giving opinions are fine as long as one does not resort to calling the fanbase names… like what you see below.
Pirates fans cheered a player whose fiendish behavior has the team in position to miss the playoffs and finish with a losing record. Dumb.
— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) July 19, 2017
When I turned on the Flagship this morning, the morning show was talking about how Gerrit Cole is looked at by the fans. And then after that, the Moral Police were hammering away at the fan base about their inability to hold Marte Accountable.
The PG wrote a story about Pirates attendance and viewership being down the last two years and the contract being up in 2019 with AT&T Sports net. Local Talk Show host and Veteran Sports Journalist Stan Savran could not tweet out fast enough that those numbers the last two seasons were probably skewed a bit by the Penguins cup run that coincides with between 15-20 Pirate home games, not to mention enough games to cover nearly a quarter of the season. When the Pirates were getting their biggest crowds, the Pens were leaving the playoffs early which shifted the fanbase to the Pirates faster and with more money left in their pockets. Playoff tickets are expensive. The cup run takes up a significant chunk of the season and to have that kind of Must See Hometown Sports Viewing competition makes for up hill sledding. Also goes to the “it’s a winners town” argument.
I remember when sports talk in the City officially started and it was purely for the fan base to call in and commiserate about the their teams winning and losing. It was not for local writers, columnist, or wannabe shock jocks to antagonize the fan base to generate callers. It was for the callers to vent frustrations and just talk sports. The hosts were “homers” and wanted the teams to win as bad as you did as a fan and the hosts were not looked down upon if they were homers. Now though, If you pick up a paper or turn on the radio, you can read or hear how Sports Journalism has turned sharply negative to generate ratings. There are two things in the media that sells, they are Sex and Negativity.
As for the Game and this series in general, the Pirates are playing well and have an opportunity tonight to get even closer to Brewers with Gerrit Cole on the mound. The fans should be excited regardless what the local media says and enjoy this ride for as long as it happens. Sports should be fun and I truly believe that the local Sports Media goes to far. Yes, even Blogger Guys like me can suck the fun right out of sports.