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Would the Pirates ever do what the Royals did?

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01:10 PM ET 12.13 | Over the weekend, Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore pulled the trigger on one of the biggest deals in club history, sending prospects including outfielder Wil Myers, righthander Jake Odorizzi, lefthander Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard to the Tampa Bay Rays for righthanders James Shields and Wade Davis. Now you can debate whether it was a good move or bad move for the Royals and while I personally wouldn't have dealt Myers for that return, I actually love the approach by Moore. When asked about the trade he simply said "We want to win." That got me thinking about Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington. Wouldn't it be nice to hear that from Huntington just once?

City of Champions

Neal Huntington, Getty Images/Jared Wickerham Neal Huntington, Getty Images/Jared Wickerham
December 14, 2012  11:11 AM ET

The Pirates will do nothing since they have no incentive to do so. Fans will go to the games whether they win or not so Nutting has no reason to spend the millions he gets from MLB. Until a new owner buys the team (Mario Lemieux or Cuban) the Pirates will NEVER make the playoffs

Comment #2 has been removed
December 14, 2012  11:33 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

The Pirates will do nothing since they have no incentive to do so. Fans will go to the games whether they win or not

Huh?
In the last 10 years, of the 30 teams in MLB, the Bucs have been:
22, 22, 27, 28, 28, 27, 27, 27, 27, 26 in home attendance.
Doesn't seem like their fans are really going to the games that much.

December 14, 2012  11:45 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

The Pirates will do nothing since they have no incentive to do so. Fans will go to the games whether they win or not so Nutting has no reason to spend the millions he gets from MLB. Until a new owner buys the team (Mario Lemieux or Cuban) the Pirates will NEVER make the playoffs

frank mcCourt its planing to making a offer to the pitsburg team,,,, who knows what McCourt would do to the team,,,

December 14, 2012  11:46 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

Would anybody even notice what the Pirates did?

unless the team gets a new owner things wouldn't change a bit!!!

December 14, 2012  11:59 AM ET

Huntington has his hands tied (with the pursestrings, no doubt).

December 14, 2012  12:02 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Until a new owner buys the team (Mario Lemieux or Cuban) the Pirates will NEVER make the playoffs

Nor will the Indians with Dolan as the owner.

December 14, 2012  12:33 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

frank mcCourt its planing to making a offer to the pitsburg team,,,, who knows what McCourt would do to the team,,,

HAHAHA! There's no way in Hell MLB and its owners would approve of that purchase.

December 14, 2012  12:46 PM ET

I think the Pirates have grown so accustomed to losing that they have perfected it as an art form.

December 14, 2012  02:36 PM ET
QUOTE(#9):

I think the Pirates have grown so accustomed to losing that they have perfected it as an art form.

LOL

Comment #11 has been removed
December 14, 2012  08:07 PM ET

cuban is not interested in buying the pirates and both cole and taillon will be busts,trade them for mlb players already.... should of taken bundy instead of cole and Machado instead of taillon,we missed on both of em.

December 14, 2012  10:47 PM ET
QUOTE(#12):

cuban is not interested in buying the pirates and both cole and taillon will be busts,trade them for mlb players already.... should of taken bundy instead of cole and Machado instead of taillon,we missed on both of em.

Cuban is interested in buying the Cubs which is another perennial loser.

December 14, 2012  10:48 PM ET

During the All-Star game, Kansas City showed that it IS a baseball town. We have been starving for a team we can cheer for; since 1985.

December 15, 2012  09:39 AM ET

Nutting has already said that he has no wish to sell, that he wants to pass the team on to his children. They say everyone has a price, but it would have to be far in excess of what the Pirates are worth, given that Nutting is pulling a profit each year from putting a mediocre product on the field, due to the league's revenue sharing plan.

From a business perspective, it would be fiscally irresponsible to put a talented team on the field, even with a projected increase in attendance, because the television revenues for the Pittsburgh area aren't enough to justify it. In other words, Nutting has no motive whatsoever for fielding a contender. And if the fans stop coming in protest? The team gets moved to a better market.

That, my friends, is the reality of modern pro baseball. The only way the Pirates will ever win a championship again under this model is sheer, dumb luck.

December 15, 2012  09:52 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Huh?In the last 10 years, of the 30 teams in MLB, the Bucs have been:22, 22, 27, 28, 28, 27, 27, 27, 27, 26 in home attendance.Doesn't seem like their fans are really going to the games that much.

Quite the opposite, actually.

According to the 2011 census, Pittsburgh is the 61st largest city in the United States, with a population of a little over 300K. Last year, the Pirates drew a little over 2M fans. By comparison, Philadelphia, who was at the top of the MLB attendance last year with 3.5M fans, has a 2011 population of 1.5M (5th in the nation). Or to put it more succinctly:

Philadelphia (#1): 3.5M tickets / 1.5M base = 2.333 tickets sold per person
Pittsburgh (#22): 2.0M tickets / 0.3M base = 6.667 tickets sold per person

So in other words, a typical person in Pittsburgh bought roughly 3 times as many tickets to see the Pirates field their record-breaking 20th straight losing team than a Phillies fan did to see a contender who had a down year.

Raw numbers don't always tell the whole story.

December 15, 2012  10:33 AM ET
QUOTE(#16):

Quite the opposite, actually. According to the 2011 census, Pittsburgh is the 61st largest city in the United States, with a population of a little over 300K. Last year, the Pirates drew a little over 2M fans. By comparison, Philadelphia, who was at the top of the MLB attendance last year with 3.5M fans, has a 2011 population of 1.5M (5th in the nation). Or to put it more succinctly:Philadelphia (#1): 3.5M tickets / 1.5M base = 2.333 tickets sold per personPittsburgh (#22): 2.0M tickets / 0.3M base = 6.667 tickets sold per personSo in other words, a typical person in Pittsburgh bought roughly 3 times as many tickets to see the Pirates field their record-breaking 20th straight losing team than a Phillies fan did to see a contender who had a down year.Raw numbers don't always tell the whole story.

Interesting analysis!

Comment #18 has been removed
December 15, 2012  10:57 AM ET

They have done what the Royals have done for years. Make money and put out a bad product. Like Alysandir stated earlier. Revenue sharing....and all that luxury tax money they have been pocketing for years.

 
December 16, 2012  03:53 PM ET
QUOTE(#18):

Who cares what the population is? All that matters is: Can you fill the seats?By your analysis, Green Bay would be doing great if it had 5,000 tickets sold per game.

I was answering the comment that said "seems like the Pirates fans aren't going to games". Yet, as you can see, they are.

The problem is, as you have touched on, is that there is no competitive balance in any sport where you can spend as much as you want, because then cities with large population bases (and the associated higher television revenues) can dramatically outspend the smaller market teams.

So, you have to decide which is more important to you: the integrity of the sport, or allowing teams to do whatever's in their power to do. The NFL leans towards integrity; MLB leans towards letting teams do whatever they want.

And that's why the Pirates will be a mediocre team for the rest of my natural life.

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