Baseball 2010: Pirates should stop living in '60s
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Shouldn't there be more '60s era promotions in the Pirates' plans?
Tie-dyed shirt night, granny glasses night, jeans with patches on 'em night, sit-in night, campus unrest night, LSD weekend?
All right, maybe not that last one.
But, if ever a team was stuck in the '60s, it's your Pirates. I'm talkin' wins here: 67, 67, 68, 67, 62. That would be 2005-09 inclusive. In the past 10 years, there were also 62 wins in '01, and 69 in 2000. The only interruptions came in '02, '03, '04, when the club ventured into the low '70s, or as they have come to be known -- the glory days.
Of course, '60s era promotions don't make a lick of sense. But I'm desperate to help.
How 'bout this? The Pirates went 19-46 after the annual purge last summer of anyone who might end up commanding a large salary. So how about turn back the clock to 1946 night?
A free hot dog and small drink to anyone who can name the location for Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech.
TO OPENING DAY
The Post-Gazette's five-day preview of the Pirates' 124th season:
Seriously, the only way to get through the Pirates' season that opens Monday with anything approaching baseball mental health is to kid ourselves, and we're not getting a lot of help from management right now.
Essentially, though we try to provide it in admirable detail every day in the pages of your good morning Post-Gazette, all you need to know about the 2010 Pirates is this: They payroll is about $35 million. The payroll of the division "rival" Chicago Cubs is $135 million. They payroll of every other team in the division is about twice the Pirates' at the minimum. In the only division in baseball where it is even possible to finish sixth, the Pirates have done it four of the past five years.
And here's the punch line: At $35 million, this particular Pirates roster is probably overpaid.
So who's kidding whom?
This is the summer of Pedro Alvarez, and possibly Jose Tabata, and possibly Brad Lincoln, all solidly promising prospects with an approximate ETA of July, and I'm as willing as anyone to believe that the end of 18 years of misery will ultimately be traced to those arrivals. But, in the meantime, the Pirates need some terribly innovative promotions, exceedingly fan friendly in design and execution.
One of the most intriguing came from an e-mailer this week, an e-mailer who said he didn't send it directly to Pirates management because he feared it would be deleted in half a heartbeat. "However," said my e-correspondent, "if you were to suggest it in print they might be willing to give it a trial."
Actually, the opposite is way closer to truth, but what do we have to lose?
"I have read enough about this year's Pirate team to believe they will probably be somewhat worse than last year's model," he began. "Pitching appears to be highly questionable with maybe a slight chance of improved hitting over the team that finished last season. So, I have been thinking about how do you get people to keep coming to the ballpark when they are almost certain to see a loss. I came up with an idea that I believe has some merit ... management should promise that for April and May, initially, if you attend a losing game you may exchange your ticket stub for a comparable ticket to another game. And, you can do this as many times as you like. I don't believe management would lose any money making this offer because of refreshment and parking revenues. In fact, I believe it would lead to higher revenues. It should also improve attendance at the ballpark which might result in more enthusiastic players. I believe players get down mentally when they must consistently play in a park with 5,000 or 6,000 in attendance. Obviously, the plan could be extended for additional months if it works. If it doesn't work, not much or probably nothing would be lost."
That's better than anything I've got.
I was down to random-fan-fills-out-the-lineup-card night and a minor tweak on the July 2 Pirates ice cream bowl night -- Pirates ice cream bowl filled with ice cream and smothered in Bailey's Irish Cream night.
Asked about his hopes for the 2010 Pirates on the club's website the other day, Andrew McCutcheon, the organization's best player, said, "We want to be able to say that we got beat, and not that we lost."
I know what he meant, but it doesn't sound real ambitious.
But, at least, if they get beat instead of just losing, I think they can win 60-some.
First Published April 3, 2010 12:00 am