Shh. The crazy people are talking.

The Pirates Prospects site has an interview up with Frank Coonelly and it is full of awesome if you like your awesome stuffed with CEO-speak and sprinkled with WTF.

When asked what his “day-to-day responsibilities” are with the Pirates, Coonelly begins pooping out tiny balls of Dilbert-speak:

That means, among other things, that I am responsible for getting the right people in the positions of leadership and providing them with the tools necessary for them to make us successful.  For us to be truly successful, we must run a high quality baseball operation, we must be a growing, forward-thinking business that is able to generate the revenues necessary to support a winning team and the many capital investments that we must make to remain a vibrant organization.

But what about transforminationitude, Frank? WHAT ABOUT THAT?!

But don’t think Frank is all “core competency” and “synergize” and “detail-oriented,” he also has a KICKASS sense of humor.

Kevin: Dan Fox and the rest of the statistical staff have developed their own in-house, propriatary defensive rating systems.  How do those results compare to the “off-the-shelf” defensive metrics such as Ultimate Zone Rating and Total Zone?

Frank: The answer to that question is proprietary.  That is a (poor) attempt at humor but also true.

LOL, Frank. LOL.

Give me a second to pick myself up off the floor to which I fell in a fit of hysterical laughter.

But then again, why bother picking myself up off the floor if Frank is just going to whip me back down there with an incredulous THUD at his response to this question:

Kevin: Would the Pirates be able to afford a $70M to $80M payroll, in present-day worth, if this current group of players were competitive enough to merit additional outside free agents?

Frank: Today, no but we will be able to support that payroll very soon if our fans believe that we now have a group of players in Pittsburgh and on its way here in the near future that is competitive.  We need to take a meaningful step forward in terms of attendance to reach that payroll number while continuing to invest heavily in our future but I am convinced that the attendance will move quickly once we convince our fans that we are on the right track.

Can I just marvel again at the giant giant giant visible-from-space gargantuan Brobdingnagian balls of the Pirates organization? Even the Great Wall of China is all, “Would you LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THOSE MONSTERS?!”

It seems to me that what Frank is saying is that instead of doing things the way they should be done, which is “Here is a product so great, that people will happily spend their money on it,” he’s saying, “Please pay money for this piece of shit product NOW so that we can have more money to use to create a better product that doesn’t suck so bad in the future. Or to line our own pockets. That’s a poor attempt at humor.”

That’s the forward-thinking way of doing things? Convince us that you’re on the right track and expect a spike in attendance? I honestly am not sure you’ve been on the right TRAIN for the past decade, let alone the right track. Also, your train is on Mars and your track is on Jupiter.

The only thing that’s going to see the attendance shift upward is the fielding of a team that doesn’t annually have national sports writers questioning whether or not the Pirates should be removed from the MLB.

Don’t try to convince us, Frank. SHOW US.

And for the love of God, don’t put the pressure on the fans, because attendance at Pirates games, despite an 18-year losing record has been pretty flippin’ consistent since 1993:

  • 1993: 1,650,593
  • 1994: 1,222,520
  • 1995: 905,517
  • 1996: 1,332,150
  • 1997: 1,657,022
  • 1998: 1, 560, 950
  • 1999: 1,638,023
  • 2000: 1,748,908
  • 2001: 2,435,867
  • 2002: 1,784,993
  • 2003: 1,636,751
  • 2004: 1,583,031
  • 2005: 1,794,237
  • 2006: 1,861,549
  • 2007: 1,749,142
  • 2008: 1,609,076
  • 2009: 1,577,853

Let me put it in terms you’ll understand Frank, “Despite the progressive and consistent downward trend in performance by the team and despite a lack of an empowering change-catalyst from management, attendance remains across the board, but will see an uptick should there be an multidisciplinary infusion of solutioning and actualizing of set goals that results in a more abundant number of competitive head-to-head wins as compared to backward-compatible losses.”

Get it? Good.

Has anyone seen my PittGirl Cult of Personality Rose-Colored Glasses? They take the stabby edge off.

(h/t Rich)





37 Comments

  1. bucdaddy
    February 24, 2011 11:42 am

    That’s not what he’s saying at all.

    I could argue with you but I’ll let someone who is smarter than me and has already made this case make it for me:

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2011/2/24/2012101/pirates-business-model



  2. Virginia
    February 24, 2011 11:51 am

    If the Pirates’ business model is to put a winning team on the field with a low payroll, as the link states, and it hasn’t happened in 18 years, and attendance has been pretty much the same in 18 years, including the last time we had a winning season, then the Pirates business model is either not working or is not their REAL business model — Just the cookie they’re selling us with the Kool-Aid.



  3. Sara
    February 24, 2011 11:56 am

    Yeah, regardless of the reasoning behind his argument, and at that point you’re just splitting hairs….he’s still asking an awful lot of really beleaguered fans who have been sticking it out with them for a really long time and getting absolutely nothing in return.



  4. Ted
    February 24, 2011 11:57 am

    So, I know that there are other things in play, like TV revenue and so on, but lets think of this.

    The Steelers can host about 650k fans per season (10 games at 65,000/game). Lets say average ticket cost of $100, that is $65M in ticket revenue, not including concession sales. The Steelers play to a salary cap of about $112M

    The Pirates had 1.6M fans in attendance last season. Let’s guess at an average ticket price of $25. That’s $40M in ticket revenue, not including concession sales. The Pirates’ team salary is about $39M.

    Ticket revenue is not too far off, yet the Steelers pay almost 3x as much as the Pirates in salary. Now consider this: We know Pittsburghers will support a team that tries to be competitive. At 38.5k seats, $25 ea, 82 games a season, that is nearly $79M in ticket revenue alone! Put a competitive team on the field for $65M, and still have $14M plus revenue sharing to run your business/pay investors/line your pockets.

    I know this is simplistic, but come on. Ginny is right. If you build it (where it = a competitive team), they WILL come!



  5. spoon
    February 24, 2011 12:12 pm

    Lets look at the top years

    2001: 2,435,867 – PNC Park Opened
    2006: 1,861,549 – All Star Game
    2005: 1,794,237 – Buying tickets to secure seats for ASG
    2002: 1,784,993 – these are the people who couldn’t get in the previous year
    2007: 1,749,142 – not sure what happened here. i think it was Fireworks Night every other game
    2000: 1,748,908 – Goodby TRS
    1997: 1,657,022 – Freak show (not Mikey or Bob)

    So unless we’re blowing shit up or hosting an intergalactic kegger people aren’t coming out Frank. I’m willing to bet most of the people are bucdaddy, relatives of Bucdaddy and cub scout troops.



  6. Pingback: Tweets that mention That's Church » Shh. The crazy people are talking. -- Topsy.com

  7. Virginia
    February 24, 2011 12:17 pm

    LOL at Spoon’s “Bucdaddy, relatives of Bucdaddy and cub scout troops.”



  8. bucdaddy
    February 24, 2011 12:18 pm

    Virginia,

    Your logic is flawed because it insists that the same business model has been in operation for 18 years. It has not. The current business model (spend tons on the draft and international talent and work to rebuild the entire system) has been in place for three years. This is not like football, which has the colleges working for it as a free farm system and which produce game-ready talent. Baseball takes kids sometimes as young as 16 and nurtures them through a system that often takes five or seven years to produce a major-league player. Most of the Pirates’ top system talent is only arriving at Altoona this year, still a year or two from helping the parent club.

    Bottom line: We’re going to suck again this year. Sit back, relax, drink a beer and enjoy sitting outside on warm summer nights and the view of the skyline ‘n at while some semblance of major-league baseball plays out in front of you. And as you do, know that help is on the way.

    And as a pre-emptive strike: Shut up, BeauJacques.

    Ted,

    The economic systems of Major League Baseball and the NFL are so different it’s not sensible to make any comparison.



  9. empirechick
    February 24, 2011 12:36 pm

    Since Coonelly and Huntingdon came on the scene, there has been an increased focus on rebuilding the farm system, and I realize it takes time for those young prospects to develop into major league talent. But given our fabulous performance over the last 2 decades, I can’t help but feel like this is just another ‘5 year plan’. Know what I mean, bucdaddy?



  10. Ted
    February 24, 2011 12:39 pm

    @bucdaddy

    My comparison was only to give a point of reference. Looking purely at ticket revenue, it is clear that the Pirates need to spend more to make more.



  11. bucdaddy
    February 24, 2011 12:45 pm

    empirechick,

    I get your frustration. I deal with it by going sort of zen: I do not expect to see another winning team in my lifetime (I figure the actuarial tables give me another 25 years, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise). I go to four or five games a year* to do what I described above (beer, skyline, plus ogle young ladies in shorts) while keeping my expectations low. That way, if and when we get a winning season again, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Otherwise, I still enjoy myself.

    People like BeauJacques act like there’s something wrong with me for that.

    *–Karma is going to bite me for this, but FWIW I’m on a six-game winning streak, during which the team is averaging 9-10 runs a game, so as far as I’m concerned I’ve been watching the most exciting team in baseball.



  12. bucdaddy
    February 24, 2011 12:51 pm

    Ted,

    But they ARE spending more, they’re just not (for the most part) flushing money down the toilet on washed-up, end-of-the-line scrubs like Joe Randa and Jeromy Burnitz and Matt Morris. They’re spending on people you won’t see this year unless you live in Altoona or Charleston. And if you do, lucky you, because those teams should kick some ass.



  13. w0x0f
    February 24, 2011 1:04 pm

    The Bucs have 3 players in Baseball America’s recently released “Top 100 Prospects” list. None are in the top 10, but 11th, 46th, and 79th should be enough to keep butts in the seats at PNC…right?

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2011/2611316.html



  14. Chris P
    February 24, 2011 1:16 pm

    Agree with @bucdaddy: “We’re going to suck again this year.” This team lost a historic # of games last year (especially on the road) … good things take time.

    The true test for ownership will be after next season when McCuthen’s contract is up. They’ll need to prove they’re willing to pay the price to keep a legit MLBB player.



  15. John Franco
    February 24, 2011 1:47 pm

    Re: Steelers and Pirates

    I think it’s safe to say that running 6 or 7 farm teams plus an international scouting and training department costs the Pirates way more in “other stuff” than the Steelers spend on their “other stuff”

    The Pirates get a (relative) truckload of revenue from revenue sharing/luxury tax. They also get a little from TV (MLB divides their ESPN/MLBN/TBS/FOX money among everyone, plus the Bucs have FSN Pittsburgh).

    The Steelers get a metric ton of money each year from the NFL TV contract.

    In the Pirates’ world, game attendance is actually a pretty large revenue source. Probably more so than the Steelers.

    I don’t doubt that the Pirates are really spending SOME of the money they get (they have paid a lot of amateur signing bonuses lately, more than the Yankees in fact). I question whether they are spending ALL of it.

    Anyway… that’s just some general thoughts and responses to some of what’s posted above.

    My actual point is this… Coonelly isn’t totally off base from the way MLB works. In their first 3 years, players are dirt cheap. So if the Pirates can get good while Alvarez, Walker, Cutch, Taillon, Allie, Sanchez, etc are all young, then attendance will rise and they’ll be able to afford all of those guys through their arbitration years. Maybe they’ll even have some money left over to spend on some free agents. But the fans need to start coming out now, or it won’t work.

    Which means he’s right… they need to convince us that this team will be good and exciting, starting now. So that attendance and revenue will go up and they can keep spending. But THEY need to convince US. They can’t just expect us to believe it because they say so.

    And, in all honesty, given the vitriol that some people feel towards the Pirates, they might need to open their books and show that they’re spending the money in order to convince some people.



  16. Joe K.
    February 24, 2011 1:50 pm

    @bucdaddy:

    Don’t forgt about all the talent with the State College Spikes! :)

    I agree with you to a point, but for Coonelly to state things the way he did was silly. He needs to take a PR course.



  17. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    February 24, 2011 1:50 pm

    @bucdaddy — Will you marry me? Or if there is already a Mrs. Bucdaddy, adopt me? This is my 20th season as a full season ticket holder (and I haven’t lived within 200 miles of Pittsburgh since 1998) and I continually get crap from family and friends about it (except when the Yankees, Red Sox, other AL teams and the Phillies are coming to town and they inquire as to a) who is going to the game with me or b) can I trade in some unused tickets so they can join me or purchase them some tickets at my season ticket price). I say every year that this is the year, but am not surprised when it isn’t. When it happens, and it will, it will be a nice surprise.



  18. Me
    February 24, 2011 2:08 pm

    “But THEY need to convince US. They can’t just expect us to believe it because they say so.”

    Now that’s church.



  19. Magnus Patris
    February 24, 2011 2:33 pm

    As a matter of fact our Cub Scout Pack (not Troop; that’s Boy Scouts) is going to be there. I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up. The seven year old has already said he doesn’t want his 8th birthday at PNC. The (more cynical) 4 year old as already told me he doesn’t want to go to baseball games. Maybe if Sid gives up hockey because of the concussions, the Pirates would sign him. He hit a hell of a homer at PNC last year.



  20. red pen mama
    February 24, 2011 2:33 pm

    I can’t weigh in on the debate that @bucdaddy started, because I honestly don’t understand it, nor do I care greatly about Pirates or baseball in general. I just wanted to compliment Ginny on her ability to write corporate speak like a champ. I think my boss actually used the term “solutioning” this week!



  21. Butcher's Dog
    February 24, 2011 2:46 pm

    @bucdaddy: We’re not worthy!! We’re not worthy!! (channeling Garth).

    Here’s the thing: if and when the Bucs become even remotely competitive it’ll be like throwing gasoline on a fire in terms of attendance. Butcher’s Pup disagrees with me on this, but my point is that for every person in the area who knows that a puck is made of rubber there are a dozen who have baseball somewhere in the bloodlines. It’s usually Little League, but it’s there. Individual game prices are lower than hockey, and there’s a huge waiting list for Pens tickets. The Bucs wouldn’t sell out a season, but they’d come pretty close.

    Plus, I remember the excitement in 1960. Media coverage was different, but you had people everywhere with transistor radios and earplugs listening. It had been 33 years since the previous pennant and they were starving for success. The longer the run lasted, the more frantic everyone became. Same thing could happen now, and would happen now IMHO.

    Decaf, BeauJacques. Decaf.



  22. Rich D
    February 24, 2011 3:08 pm

    I don’t think the Bucs need to buy a winning team, but I do think they need to back a Brinks truck up and buy 2 talents: a winning pitcher and an experienced infielder from a winning team. No one on the current roster knows what it feels like to win. They need a couple veterans on the squad that know how to stay motivated when they start losing a lead and how to get the lead back. They shouldn’t buy a primadonna re: Bell, just a couple mature players with a couple playoff seasons under their belts.



  23. bucdaddy
    February 24, 2011 3:11 pm

    Ex-Pat,

    Mrs. Daddy and I have a spare bedroom. Move in and we’ll see how it goes, though you’ll have to surrender it temporarily whenever BucDaughter visits, couple times a year. At least it will cut your commute down to 80 miles each way.

    Magnus Patris,

    That’s the saddest thing I’ve read all day.



  24. bucdaddy
    February 24, 2011 3:15 pm

    Rich D,

    Agree. According to them, they’ll do that when they have the rest of the pieces in place for those two guys to make a difference between making and missing the playoffs. Right now, signing those two players might (might) make the difference between 65 wins and 70.

    One ballplayer makes much less of a difference than a lot of people think. There’s nobody out there who’s going to make your team 10 wins better by himself, much less the 40 the Pirates would need to win a pennant. You could add Babe Ruth to this lineup and maybe nudge it up to 72 wins. There has to be across-the-board improvement.



  25. spoon
    February 24, 2011 4:09 pm

    At this rate @bucdaddy may get me to attend more than the home opener.

    That’s Church Night at PNC Park in the All You Can Eat section featuring Bucdaddy and Beau! DO IT!!!



  26. Paul
    February 24, 2011 4:14 pm

    “Please pay money for this piece of shit product NOW so that we can have more money to use to create a better product that doesn’t suck so bad in the future. ”

    We fell for this garbage when they were fleecing the taxpayers to build them a new stadium. Just build us a new building, pretty please, and we’ll then have enough money to be a contender. Otherwise we can’t compete. Ha!



  27. Monty
    February 24, 2011 4:31 pm

    Look, the Pirates are like Carnie Phillips. In order to get the joy of the Michelle Phillips (Steelers) and Wendy Wilson (Pens), you have to put up with Carnie in the Wilson Phillips videos. It was unpleasant and disconcerting to watch Carnie, for sure, but wasn’t it worth it having to her in a muumuu in the corner of the screen to be able to see Chynna dance around in a tank top?

    Right now, we’re in the extended “gastric bypass broadcast on the internet phase.” But never fear — she went on to pose for Playboy, which in my book is roughly the equivalent of .500 baseball.



  28. PensFan024
    February 24, 2011 5:08 pm

    What is so hard about this comment that so many people are misinterpreting it. He clearly states that he is confident fans will come out once they see the Bucs are on the right track. It’s right there at the end of the quote. So to summarize Frank Connelly sees it this way:

    The Bucs start winning, then more poeple come to games, then more money is made, and then more money is spent.

    That seems about right to me.



  29. Kevin Creagh
    February 24, 2011 5:14 pm

    I thought it would be a good idea to weigh in on this topic since, um….I’m the one that asked Frank Coonelly the question.

    The key takeaway from his payroll answer is this part:

    “….but I am convinced that the attendance will move quickly once we convince our fans that we are on the right track.”

    I interpreted it as — once our fans see the core we are building in Alvarez/McCutchen/Tabata/Walker they will come out and support the team. Those additional attendance dollars, coupled with parking revenues, merchandise, and concessions will allow us to augment our payroll.

    I didn’t see him twist a Snidely Whiplash moustache as he was answering my question.

    This whole thing has been contorted, in my opinion. He even puts some of the onus on the Pirates to “continue to invest heavily in our future”.

    I had hoped that the Pirates would have augmented the talent base this offseason by trading for a player with some measure of control left (like Matt Garza who went to the Cubs in a trade), but it didn’t happen unfortunately.

    This doesn’t mean that it won’t happen in the future.



  30. BeauJacques
    February 24, 2011 6:22 pm

    Keep drinking the Kool Aid BucDaddy!

    Putting even $10.00 into the Nutting family coffers is like
    how they explain that your seemingly harmless dime bag purchase works its way
    up the food chain to support the murdering drug cartels!!

    BucDaddy- Spend the money at one of the venues OUTSIDE PNC Park and ogle even more!!!!!

    For the love of God!



  31. BeauJacques
    February 24, 2011 6:54 pm

    LOL@Monty



  32. JB
    February 24, 2011 7:08 pm

    I looked at the “about” section of “piratesprospects” and I get the sense that Tim doesnt live in Pittsburgh, so the odds are against him having an 81 game ticket plan.
    I would trust his view more if he put his own $ where his opinions are when it comes to the current state of the Pirates.

    He also seems to completely ignore the money story from last year.

    ■ The profit for 2007 was $15,008032.
    ■ The profit for 2008 was $14,408,249.
    ■ The profit for 2009 was $5,409,087.
    ■ The 2008 books indicate that the $20.4 million distribution was made to general ownership (mostly for individuals to pay taxes on team profits).

    That money didnt improve the MLB product, so why should we (as fans) assume with greater attendance that they would actually put the money into the MLB team?



  33. debbiebear51
    February 24, 2011 7:51 pm

    So…the Altoona Curve did GREAT last year, so what do these boneheads Coonelly and Huntington do? They FIRE the manager! WTF!!!!???? Just another pathetic example of their management skills….we need desperately to clean house in the Bucs’ front office!!!



  34. YinzerInExile
    February 24, 2011 11:29 pm

    @beaujacques– “Putting even $10.00 into the Nutting family coffers is like
    how they explain that your seemingly harmless dime bag purchase works its way
    up the food chain to support the murdering drug cartels!!”

    This makes sense to me! Because I *also* think it’s a heavy load of puckey when dime bags and murderous cartels are conflated.

    @debbiebear– seriously, the very LAST thing we need to do is clean house. Again. Given that player and system development take time, embarking on YET ANOTHER 5 year plan would result in little more than the past 4.3 5 year plans. Give the current system a chance–because Huntington’s guys are just starting to come up. It’s pointless to judge him based on the players he inherited, and as yet unripened attempts to dispatch them profitably (for the system)



  35. AngryMongo
    February 25, 2011 12:17 am

    Pittsburgh Pirates: MLB’s Farm Team.



  36. Just A Simple Man
    February 25, 2011 10:22 am

    Breaking News??? Nutting said kind of the opposite about attendance vs. payroll yesterday.

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_724517.html

    Seems to me Bob & Frank need to get on the same page, no?



  37. bucdaddy
    February 25, 2011 11:52 am

    Angry Mongo,

    Yes, let’s count all the former Pirates who are stars for other teams.

    Let’s see, there’s Aramis Ramirez and … um … uhhhh …