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Sunday, August 1, 2010

brand and loyalty

Last night at dinner, I was talking to my brother in law about the Pittsburgh Pirates. I was thinking of going to a game while I'm in town this weekend.
Now I live in Toronto, but I just can't bring myself to go to a game there. The stadium is terrible and the prices are way to high. But I do love baseball, always have, ever since I was about 3 years old.
Now, of course, any sports fan knows that the Pirates have sucked big time for about 30 years now, ever since the "we are family" days.
Of course, the days of Stargell, Parker, Cash, Stennett, Moreno, Tekulve and Candaleria are long gone. But one thing that has struck me about the Pirates and alot of other sports franchises these days is their willingness to basically torch a team to save a little cash in the short term with no regard to the long term, and in essence completely insult and disregard the fan base in the process.

Although this has gone on as long as their has been sports (after all the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth and Wayne Gretzky was sold to the Kings), it is now rampant and out of control.
How can I be expected to root and identify with a team if they are constantly rotating players in and out, year after year. For me its about building brand and loyalty, and the way they are going about it doesnt do that.
My fondest memories as a young sports fan were of the Montreal Canadians and Montreal Expos. The best memories were of my heroes, on the hockey side, Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, Larry Robinson, and Ken Dryden. On the baseball side, homegrown stars like Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Steve Rogers and Larry Parrish.
When a bad year came along, these players were not "dumped" to save a little salary, and the next year they were still there with a legit chance to be contenders again.
My worst memory as an Expos fan was when Pete Rose became an Expo. Sorry but while I always respected that guy, I could never root for him on my team.
Today, its the Yankees, Red Sox and the like who just go out and buy the biggest name they can find. Sure go ahead and win, but there is no satisfaction of being a fan of that team for me.
So I say to you Pittsburgh Pirates, take some pain, keep some of your better players and build a winner. What have you got to lose, you have stunk for 30 years now anyway.

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