As the Pittsburgh Pirates have discovered, nothing succeeds like success. For all the romance and lore of baseball, for all the talk of the boys of summer, baseball is a product to be sold to customers.
If it’s a good product, the people come in greater numbers. If it’s bad, the stands and bleachers are harder to fill. Pittsburgh knows from experience.
For two decades, the Bucs put a poor product on the field. With one of the best ballparks in the country, loyalty and habit drew more fans than hope and excitement.
Those 20 losing seasons, a record for North American sports teams, ended last year. The Pirates finished second in the division and made the playoffs. Hope and excitement returned.
So did the fans. The team’s season ticket base grew 40 percent over last year, the largest rate of any Major League Baseball team.
As the Post-Gazette’s Michael Sanserino reported, every year the Pirates hold a party for new season-ticket holders. This season’s party was held on Tuesday, before a game with the Baltimore Orioles. So many people wanted to come — more than 1,000 — the event had to be held in a parking lot.
That’s great except for the fact that the Bucs are back to their losing ways. It’s only May but already they’re well behind the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers. The way things are going, next year’s party for rookie season-ticket holders might be held in a broom closet. Nothing fails like failure.