It was with great amusement that we at Panther Rants watched what was supposed to be a "walk out" at tonight's game between the Pirates and the Washington Nationals. Fans who are disgruntled with the status of the team were expected to pack up and high-tail at the conclusion of the third inning. Attendance for tonight's game was expected to be around 27,000 lemmings, err, fans. However, after the scheduled "walk out," it somehow looked like 33,000 fans remained. The symbolism was evident.
- The actual Pirate "fan" is now more endangered a specie than the caribou. As long as you jam bobblehead dolls, beach towels, free concerts from bands that haven't been relevant since 1996, or whatever gimmick at them, they're happy. The game is merely secondary and just a sport to watch until football season rolls around.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates have a tremendous grasp on what it is that their customer base wants, which is free shit. It's the perfect relationship. Pirates fans continue to fork over their hard-earned money and the Pirates respond by blowing a load in the face, handing them a free beach towel and saying "we'll see you again next week."
This said, the University of Pittsburgh's fans and athletic department can both give out and take notes in this situation.
First off, memo to Pirates fans: If you're going to stage a protest, do it like a man, do it like a Pitt fan. Pitt fans cut out the middleman. Rather than pay for the ticket and then walk out, they simply don't show up in the first place. Many Pitt fans staged informal "protests" when Mike Gottfried was fired in 1989 and didn't end their protest until Wlatapalooza started to get rolling between 1997 and 2000. Some of them didn't even come back for that.
You could even argue that our ability to protest the program is our finest tradition. Then again, given our historically incompetent administration, we get a lot of practice.
Lastly, memo to the Pitt administration: If you wanna develop a customer base of lemmings that will show up in good times and in bad, give shit away or blow shit up. Wanna' get a big crowd for the Grambling game? Switch the start time to 7 p.m. and shoot off some fireworks afterwords. Want a real big time atmosphere for the UConn game? How about a Chase Clowser replica jersey/speedboat cover? Want people to come to the South Florida game? How about a Craig Heyward bobblehead? Given the embarrassment of a "ceremony" that the athletic department had for Heyward last year, the staff at Panther Rants believe that the Heyward family still is holding an I.O.U.
Then again, give the athletic departments inability to schedule nationally televised games that don't counteract what the neighbors across the parking lot are doing and incompetence at designing a uniform or drawing a panther, many of us are quite worried at what "promotions" this bunch would come up with. For example, we're not certain how many extra people a "Yuri Demetris crowbar night" would draw. And we're pretty certain that Carl DePasquale Bobblehead Day will be as popular as a Great White reunion tour in Rhode Island.
Considering the inept-assed Pirates might average more fans per game than Pitt this year, those who market this team should be open to almost anything.