In which I defend the Pirates organization …

… and a succubus hits Satan in the face with a snowball.

The Stroll In bar in Kennedy Township that was discounting their beer each time the Pirates lost became the subject of a boycott by two Pirates employees and their friends and/or families.

The sign said, “When the Pirates lose, you win,” and that didn’t sit right with a Pirate employee Angela Criscella who made the poor decision along with another employee to use her Pirates.com email addy to write an email to suggest a boycott of the place because it wasn’t supporting the home team. Reportedly they sent it to “family and friends.”

The Pirates issued a statement saying they weren’t aware of the employee boycott, but that they couldn’t fault their employees for choosing to not patronize an establishment that they viewed was rooting against the team.

The bar owner says she didn’t mean it as rooting against the team, but more as a consolation prize.

The bar owner contacted the Pirates after hearing about the boycott and asked them to explain their stance on the issue.

Pirates spokesman Brian Warecki said the team was unaware the employees were urging a boycott, but he said they are “free to share with their friends their feelings about an establishment that would root against its home team.”

Frank Coonelly himself called the bar owner and, according to Deadspin, “Of course, the Pirates being the secretly rich pricks that they are, team president Frank Coonelly called the bar’s owner to say he wasn’t calling off the boycott.”

So you’ve got Deadspin frothing at the mouth and that makes fans who only read Deadspin’s take on this frothing at the mouth.  There’s lots of blog posts and twitter posts out there basically all, “FRANK COONELLY ORGANIZED A BOYCOTT!” You’ve got the bar owner initially believing the Pirates are behind the boycott, rather than it just being two employees who took it upon themselves.

The actual statement from the Pirates:

The bar owner Estelle Aversa asked through our customer service email that someone contact her to explain our position on the issue. As the President of the club, Frank wanted to reach out directly to her to make clear to her that the Pirates were in no way, shape or form behind any boycott of her establishment. He explained that your media inquiry was the first the organization heard of the promotional idea or that two of our employees sent personal emails to their friends and family on the topic. While the use of a company email account was regrettable in this case, he also discussed the fact that our employees, like everyone else, are free to decide the establishments to which they wish to give their business and free to share those feelings with their personal contacts.

Again, the most important thing to make clear is that Pirates organization was in no way, shape or form actively behind or supporting the email push to boycott the establishment.

Yuengling is a valued partner with the Pirates and we are well aware that they were not behind the idea of the promotion that would be perceived by some as rooting against the home town team.  I think it is important to also point out that the employees involved were reminded of our policy that the use of company email for personal matters such as this is against company policy. That is in place for situations like this when the actions of an employee can be misrepresented as representing the Pirates organization as whole.

My opinion:

1. I agree the promotion was harmless and all in good fun; I can also see how sensitive Pirates employees could view it as rooting for the team to lose.

2. Those screaming about it being “executives,” please take a look at the Pirates front office staff listing and without using your search function, find Angela on the list. Yeah, she’s a group sales account executive.  One of ten. One of thirty in the entire organization with that title. She’s not an executive meaning CAPITAL E executive. She’s an account executive. Not even a senior one at that.

3. It wasn’t the brightest thing to do and yeah, definitely a bit oversensitive, but this being America the two Pirates’ employees had a right to ask their family and friends to boycott the place, but they never should have done it using their Pirates email addresses because that gets the Pirates organization involved.

The same way that Rashard tweeting very questionable opinions from a verified account ended up getting the Steelers involved. Just because you have the RIGHT to say something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. I have knowledge of this; I was fired for blogging, remember? I had a right to do it; I lived with the repercussions. I still am living with them, but that’s another blog post.

4. What would Deadspin and those of you who are freaking out at the Pirates like Frank Coonelly to do? Call the owner and say, “I apologize. I will tell my employees and their friends and families that they are not permitted to NOT eat at your establishment?” He can’t do that. All he can say is, “This isn’t coming from the Pirates organization. This is employees doing what they have the right to do and there’s not a whole lot I can do about it except fire them and then get the free speech people all over my ass and I’ll just have to hire them back like I did that pierogie dude who insulted us on his private facebook page. The most I can do is reprimand them for using their professional email account to conduct private matters.”

5. All fault for this becoming news lies with the two employees who apparently are very sensitive to the Pirates being the butt of jokes, not the Pirates organization.

Now, I’m very curious to hear your thoughts because I can’t seem to find anyone who has taken my view on this. I’m asking you to show me the error of my thinking here, because I feel like I’m missing something. Like maybe I should instead be writing a frothing-at-the-mouth rant to Frank Coonelly all “BALLS ON A STICK.”

Discuss.

Either way, [high-five] to the Stroll Inn for all this free publicity!





81 Comments


  1. Paul
    May 18, 2011 9:23 am

    I think the Pirates organization should be happy that anybody in the state still knows who the Pirates are and would actually have a promotion based on them, positive or negative. And yes, I’m bitter.

    Also, the Pirates organization should make sure they are absolutely #1 above all else in customer service to their fans, because the product on the field sure isn’t going to bring fans to the stadium.



  2. The Ginger
    May 18, 2011 9:25 am

    I’m with you. I was pissed when everyone was freaking out about what the “Pirates” supposedly said, without actually investigating the entire story. Including reporters who didn’t figure out as much information as you did. Funny they should practice what they preach and not make a huge deal out of something that didn’t actually occur. FACTS PEOPLE. I’m behind the Pirates. I see little improvements happening and I think they’re moving in the right direction. They’re spending money in the right places and attempting to put together something better. People are screaming for improvement, and when its finally starting to slowly happen, its not enough.



  3. Julie
    May 18, 2011 9:32 am

    You might want to check WDVE’s website for information about Estelle’s call into the morning show discussing her conversation with Mr. Coonelly (sp). Apparently it didn’t go very well. She mentioned “pompous ass” and that he “talked to her like I was one of his peons.” I know, its just one side….



  4. John Franco
    May 18, 2011 9:34 am

    1. I really don’t see what the big deal is. Sending an email to your “friends and family” – even from your official Pirates’ email address – isn’t exactly the Zimmerman Note.

    2. I can easily see why Deadspin would enjoy making a big deal out of nothing because it’s what they do.

    3. I’d love to know which “family or friend” leaked this to the media or to the bar owner.

    4. The discount is a NICKEL on a PITCHER of beer. So either the bar owner either means it as a joke or he was hoping that someone would find out and he’d get more publicity



  5. TripleC
    May 18, 2011 9:35 am

    Well, that sounds like half the story.

    Mark Madden interviewed the owner of the bar yesterday and it’s certainly worth listening to – hopefully the podcast will be available at some point. Coonelly came off as incredibly unprofessional and petty. Just further solidifies in my mind that the organization is a complete joke – and now I’m even more pissed that I actually bought a ticket to an upcoming game, which happens to be the first game I’ve gone to in 3 years, and likely the last.

    Maybe the entire organization needs to step back and realize that people and fed-up and disgusted by having to endure nearly 2 decades of losing baseball.

    Just dumbfounded that someone in the Pirates organization (especially someone as high up as Coonelly) would take the time to hassle these people.

    And you’re actually the first person I’ve heard of that supports the Pirates in this.



  6. burgherman47
    May 18, 2011 9:36 am

    The Pirates Organization can’t manage their way out of a wet paper sack, what makes you think they can manage an effective boycott of the Stroll Inn? Can’t you just let Frank just go back to counting all of that cap money coming in and booking once famous 1970-80’s bands for real entertainment? Ruining a MLB franchise is hard enough, why would he care to take his show on the road and ruin a small time bar like the Stroll Inn?



  7. Ed
    May 18, 2011 9:37 am

    The bar owner could help diffuse this situation. She could change the discount policy to a small discount when the Pirates lose and a bigger discount to anyone who presents a Pirates game ticket stub. I’ll bet Frank Coonelly would love that, and sing praises for the Stroll bar to anyone who would listen (how is he at Karaoke?).



  8. Julie_Gong
    May 18, 2011 9:38 am

    this is the first i’m hearing of this but really… this is an issue with people? And before people get their panties in a twist, i’ve now read both sides. the pirates suck, duh. the promotion was harmless, duh. the pirate organization responded the way they should have. the end.

    pittgirl for the win here.

    suck it everyone else.



  9. geeves
    May 18, 2011 9:44 am

    Personally, I think this whole issue is a waste of time – and not news worthy.

    But since it’s in the news: I think it’s because the majority who reads it, no matter what the source, are in agreement that the Pirates have more important things to do at the moment (like working on having a winning season) than worrying about some bar and its promotions.

    Many people think the Pirates are a joke of an organization – antics like this are just further proof of it.



  10. Eric Williams
    May 18, 2011 9:45 am

    I’m with the Stroll Inn. It was a smart business move. Fans and members of the Pirates organization need to lighten up.

    Frankly, I don’t understand sports fanaticism (or any kind of tribalism, for that matter). I don’t understand why people are supposed to support a team just because it calls their city home. Teams are businesses, and as mere customers of their products (games, merchandise, etc.), why should we pretend like our cheering and whatnot have a substantive effect on the success or failure of those businesses? We don’t scout for them. We don’t draft for them. We don’t make trades for them. We don’t manage for them. The biggest effect we can have is through “wallet votes”, and even that power has been refused by most Pirates fans (i.e., they continue to monetarily support a dysfunctional organization that has turned losing into a working business model). Ever notice that when teams are victorious people say (and headlines read), “We won!”, but when they are defeated we hear, “They lost!”. Fans take undeserved credit for victories, but take no blame for defeats, despite the fact that they really have very little effect on either. But I digress…

    The Stroll Inn made what should have been considered a smart strategic move to attract customers. With the Pirates’ long history of losing, the bar’s promotion was sure to be as permanent and frequent an event as ladies nights. ;)

    People are free to boycott, but that doesn’t mean they’re not uptight ninnies for doing so.

    Rooting against the home team isn’t sacrilege, people. Get a grip. Get a sense of perspective.

    People need to be more careful about using their company’s communication tools and generally how they represent their companies (explicitly or implicitly).



  11. jmarie1973
    May 18, 2011 9:48 am

    I listened to DVE’s replay of the phone call they had with the bar owner.

    Yes it’s one sided but because of how sucky the pirates organization is i am leaning towards believing the bar owner. it is making the pirates look bad. no one would have even known if they had kept their traps shut and would have faded quickly. now you have a fire that is spreading fast and is going to be hard to put out.

    Also, i think it’s her freedom to do that promotion. It was great publicity for her. She probably started thinking what can i do to get my customers in here and she’s jumping for joy because now a lot of people will be going to her bar just to check it out. Heck the morning show was talking about going….lolThe pirates have really helped her!

    Thinking maybe i should do one for my store everytime the pirates lose or blow a play you get a percent off your purchase……lol However I don’t think my customers care enough to pay attention and neither do i since i wasn’t even old enough to drown my sorrows in alchohol the last time the pirates did good. And I’m freaking old at this point………lol.

    maybe if more fans revolted the management would do something. you try to have hope and interest but hey we are in the same place as last year.

    and did you know the pirates are doing door to door sales now. i’ve had at two young college kids coming to the store this week trying to sell me tickets. ummmmmmm maybe management needs to add more firework nights. i don’t even think paying me to go would get me there.

    what that bar owner should do is give a free beer out to everyone who has a ticket to a game so they can drown their sorrows after they lose.

    jmarie



  12. Nate
    May 18, 2011 9:56 am

    If you take the bar owner at her word, Frank spoke to her like an arrogant jagoff. I heard her interviewed and I believe her. I believe that Frank sucks and still sucks at this very moment. So, why do I take her word over his? Simple, I believe in the good in people until they prove me wrong. Estelle has done nothing to make me believe she is a liar. Frank works for the Pirates, an organization of lying liars.

    Frank is the president of this fraudulent organization. Fraudulent because they perpetrated a fraud on the public, this makes them fraudulent- like big tobacco without all the death. They got us to pay for a ballpark and in exchange they pledged to supply a competitive product. Liars. Big fat liars.

    This is also the organization that had some hack do a hatchet job on the Penguins and Mario Lemieux through one of Nutting’s publications. You remember the story where some poor excuse for a man compared a Stanley Cup winning goaltended to Brian Bullington. Liars, cowhards and morons.

    This organization is arrogant to the core. They jump all over anyone they feel is criticizing them about anything. They really feel we should take them at face value when they say this five year plan is different. Their logic says that we should believe they won’t trade away their young guys when it’s time to write the check- the one they have NEVER written. They feel that they are entitled to our trust. What a friggin joke they are! Who trusts liars?

    They are an embracement to this city, an embracement. That is some crazy shit, a professional sports team in this Burgh- the Burgh of Mario, Mean Joe and Maz- that brings shame upon its citizens. Not only do they lose,they do it without dignity or class.They also lie.

    One final reason that I blame Frank and the idiots down there at PNC Park, they are too stupid to live.No wonder we are coming up on 20 FRIGGIN YEARS OF LOSING! These people have zero business acumen.

    There is overwhelming evidence of their stupidity-bar has promotion; Pirate employees get mad and send emails; bar owner call Channel 4 to stem the PR tide, showing that she will go to the press; after seeing this and knowing how the public views his organization (oh shit, he doesn’t know, they have arrogance induced blindness)instead of laughing it off or ignoring it Frank calls the bar owner- the one who goes to the press, shockingly she again goes to the press.

    Owner has her story, Frank has his. Who is the public going to believe? The mom and pop bar owner claiming bullying by a major league baseball team or the president of the lying liars?

    As Adrian told Rocky, “ you can’t win!” Yet Frank called her anyway… and I totally believe he was a jerk and a bully.

    Twenty years of losing has not taught this organization one ounce humility. It is unreal. Fortunately for me, I swore them off two years back. But, this is my Burgh and they friggin shame us every single day they do business here. I sign off with a mock spitting on a team photo of Pirates front office staff.

    About me: I grew up living and breathing baseball, I played through high school and loved the Bucs, I cried when Bream slid home…no I wailed, I am no Johnny come lately. But over the years the love of the game has turned to disgust, some of it has to do with financial disparity and steroids…but mostly it has to do with the incompetent lying liars.



  13. PK
    May 18, 2011 9:56 am

    Once again the Pirates show that the organization’s PR skills are for naught. Had they simply ignored this promotion (which from my understanding is five cents per loss accumulated, not just five cents total) it never would have seen the light of day beyond Kennedy Township. But the FO and staff, being the thin-skinned yet narcissistic individuals they are, decided to broadcast their umbrage at a small business owner.

    @John Franco – hyperbole much? Seriously though, any employer with a fear of litigation has policies and procedures in place that forbid the use of business email for improper/personal use, harassment, spam, chain emails, etc. This protects the employer (mostly) against any untoward actions by the employee. Ms. Criscella and her coworker either didn’t read their employee manuals or were simply clueless.

    Lastly, Nutting et al are already perceived as carpetbaggers by many in this city, and so allowing this to escalate against a local business is bad form. Right now the FO needs all the butts-in-seats it can get and has shown that not only is there a lack of business sense or baseball acumen within the organization, but that this attitude filters from the top on down.

    Was he correct that the FO isn’t responsible for the actions of the employees? Yes…but by admitting they violated policy, he and the official statement should have left it at that, said “I’m sorry,” and let it rest, rather than get their collective knickers in a twist.



  14. Paul
    May 18, 2011 9:58 am

    Plus the bar owner is losing money on this. I mean, the Pirates lose ALL THE TIME! She’d lose less money, for sure, if she gave a discount when the Pirates win, or when the Pirates score a run.



  15. Barry
    May 18, 2011 9:59 am

    At first glance, it’s nice that Frank Coonelly and the Pirates pay lip service to the issue by “officially” saying that they are not actively supporting or organizing the boycott. However, I think the wording, specifically the use of the word ACTIVELY, is key.

    Because the official statement goes on to basically say that Pirates employees are free to boycott who they wish, and free to encourage others to do so. That’s true, that’s their right, but it also seems to strongly imply that the Pirates organization tacitly supports anyone and everyone boycotting the Stroll Inn. I feel that it definitely paints Coonelly and the Pirates as being extremely petty and fan unfriendly. If they were capable of publicly laughing it off, and pretending to see the humor in it, maybe they wouldn’t have come off as (deservingly) being the bad guy in this scenario.

    The Stroll Inn’s promotion is funny and clever, and they should stick with it. It would be great if this turns out to be great PR for them, and they do record-breaking business as a result.



  16. bucdaddy
    May 18, 2011 10:00 am

    I’ve managed to boycott the Stroll Inn for almost 54 years and somehow, I don’t think I’ve missed a thing. It doesn’t sound to me like the kind of place that has Dogfish 120 on tap. More like the kind of place that has huge Budweiser banners hanging across the front. A bar that serves Bud? Imagine that. It’s the absolute least I expect from a bar.

    If I’m anywhere near Kennedy, I’ll be in Bocktown, can I get a witness, spoon?

    Oh, and I’m on your side in this one, Gin.



  17. PensFan024
    May 18, 2011 10:04 am

    Haters Gonna Hate. After 18 losing seasons you tend to have a lot of haters.



  18. Jim
    May 18, 2011 10:06 am

    Any half competent manager would have found a way to take this potentially ugly situation and turn it into a good will mission. Send a player to the bar to sign some autographs, bring the owners and employees to a game with the royal treatment, etc. Basically, make the connection to the team personal and give the folks at the bar a reason to love the Pirates. Instead, Coonelly treated it like a Human Resources hearing and the sterility of it all has rubbed a lot of people wrong. A little common sense and personal courtesy could’ve gone a long way here.



  19. jdp
    May 18, 2011 10:09 am

    I agree with you.

    But what the hay – what fun would the internet be if it didn’t give a bajillion commenters the opportunity to not think and just spout off?



  20. Woy
    May 18, 2011 10:15 am

    Look at the size of that staff!

    (that’s what she said)



  21. Elle C.
    May 18, 2011 10:18 am

    I would like mention that the Pirates employee who wrote the email grew up less than a mile from the Stroll Inn. IMHO, this seems to be some kind of personal vendetta from a disgruntled local, so forgive me if I have a hard time believing that she was actually “very sensitive to the Pirates being the butt of jokes.” I also am from this area and drove past the sign just last week and got a chuckle out of it. The purpose of the Angela’s email on boycotting the restaurant actually backfired on her, because the amount of publicity and advertisement the Stroll has receieved is enough to keep them going strong for a while. Besides, you can’t beat their pizza and no Pirates executive muscle (hahaha) is going to keep me from frequenting a quality establishment.

    Now let’s get back to blaming Regis for the curse!



  22. Estelle Aversa
    May 18, 2011 10:20 am

    Thanks for the great article! I want everyone to know it was 4 Pittsburgh execs that actually initiated the boycott along with Kennedy Township’s lawyer. All these people are from the township I live and work in. None of them offering up an apology.
    Frank Coonelly gave an interview today about how the Pirates support the March of Dimes and about the team. He never mentioned the boycott. This goes to show what kind of man he is. Just like in his ball club, he doesn’t admit to his mistakes and make things right. Business as usual, eh Frankie!



  23. Jack
    May 18, 2011 10:21 am

    I can’t recall the last marketing mistake made by the Penguins. I can’t recall the last marketing success made by the Pirates. The correct response by the Pirates should have been positive. They could have backed a promotion at the Stroll Inn based on Pirates wins. They could have offered some free tickets in a local raffle supporting the Little League fields a stones throw away from the Stroll Inn. There was an opportunity to engage the public instead of enraging them. A marketing message should be tightly controlled by a company. Employees should be told exactly what that message should be without deviation. At a minimum it should err on the side of the customer. It’s a puzzle why the Pirates can’t understand how marketing works.



  24. bigslacker
    May 18, 2011 10:26 am

    I heard Ginny was knocking 5 cents off every blog post mentioning the Pirates until they have a winning season.

    I will not lead the charge in boycotting her.



  25. hello haha narf
    May 18, 2011 10:26 am

    i have no problem with the employees of any company explaining why they want friends and family to boycott any business. it is the lynch mob mentality of not having a valid reason to take someone down that scares the hell outta me.

    this is pittsburgh. we want winning teams. we expect winning teams. we sure as shit don’t want to be like other cities that boo their own teams. i am all for supporting the pirates…even when they suck you will find me at games cheering them on. maybe my glasses are rose colored and you can call me pollyanna, but i am totally cool with the pirates employees (all of them, even the big, big bosses) standing up for themselves.

    since i have never heard of that bar, i’m sure my boycott of almost 40 years shall continue.



  26. Estelle Aversa
    May 18, 2011 10:27 am

    Ellie, the sad thing is that there were 5 people from the township, including Joe Kulik, who is the townships solicitor. My husband golfs with Angela’s Dad and Uncle!! They are really good friends. No personal vendetta….although, you would think so! Thant’s what makes this more baffling. Why didn’t one of these 5 people take the time to stick their head in the kitchen and talk to me before sending out a chain boycott emai?
    Thanks for the shout out about our pizza. Much thanks :)



  27. Pghgirl
    May 18, 2011 10:27 am

    Coonelly was on KDKA this morning and said he spoke with the bar owner after he was contacted about the story from the media. Spoke very highly of her and said she understood that the Pirates were not endorsing or encouraging any type of boycott. He also said the employee is a hard worker & very loyal to the Pirates & he met with her personally to discuss the fact she used a Pirate email. He stressed that they don’t condone boycotts of any establishments. But he understood that she was upset when she saw this and reacted w/o thinking it through.
    Sounded to me like it was all settled and everyone was fine with the outcome. He must be a good liar from what I am reading here b/c I believed him.
    I also think its a complete non story and unless I had heard it on KDKA wouldn’t have even read this post after the headline.
    Consider me on the Pirates side as well esp. b/c sending an email from your work address happens all the time and while a mistake, shouldn’t cause such an uproar.



  28. Robert E Hunt Jr
    May 18, 2011 10:52 am

    Just win more ball games and all of this … every last *speck* of it goes away. Poof. Gone. Forgotten. Never Was, Never Will Be.

    I can tell you for a fact that the number of local bars in South Philadelphia that are giving discounts on beer following Phillies losses is … zero.

    Winning. Solves. Everything.



  29. mjkelley21 - twitter
    May 18, 2011 10:54 am

    I agree totally about it being a mistake they used their Pirate email. If I would have used my UPMC email to do the same, I would have been fired. And quickly! I have to admit, I am slighty upset myself that The Stroll Inn would use years of Pirates misery and the “Regis Jynx” to bring in customers. But they have a right to it, just as I have had the right to boycott The Stroll Inn for over 10 years now.



  30. spoon
    May 18, 2011 11:03 am

    This story popped up on the beer news wire (there is such a thing) which isnt a shock as to how I heard about it.

    1) You do NOT use your employee email for anything outside of the company. Thats common sense but people have a hard time understanding the difference between personal and professional online. I do this shit for a living (work online, not organize boycotts) and actually see it more often than you’d think.
    2) Angela’s LinkedIN profile is now gone
    3) I’m sure this isn’t the first bar that has done a special that was making jabs at the Pirates but man they really need to work on their PR.
    4) I want some of the Kool aid the Buccos are feeding employees because it sounds like some good shit.

    I have never heard of the Stroll Inn until this happened but now I want to check it out. Organizing a boycott of a bar over a special like this is absolute stupidity. After 18 years of losing they should feel fortunate that anyone still gives a shit.



  31. MattDC
    May 18, 2011 11:35 am

    The promotion was not only harmless and in good fun. It was just business. The impressive body of evidence suggests there will be many more losses than wins. If customer traffic spikes compared to the pre-promotion traffic, the bar made a good business move which apparently cost them nothing (5 cents a pitcher?) The bonus for the bar is that public perception of a Pirates-sponsored boycott will drive even more traffic. The bonus for the fans is that the Pirate management seems to care about something. Anything. I had assumed them to be supinely insensate, stirring briefly from their stupor only for the annual trading-deadline fire-sale of anyone with apparent talent. The more publicity about this, the better for everyone.



  32. Old North Sider
    May 18, 2011 11:58 am

    The Stroll Inn is a classic family-run YINZER bar with great food! Since it is probably less than 15 minute drive from PNC park, Frank should take the front office execs there for lunch sometime real soon. Buy the bar a round of drinks and bury the hatchet. I’d wager that a pitcher of draft beer at the Inn costs less than a single can at PNC Park!



  33. OnlyMyOpinion
    May 18, 2011 11:59 am

    I can understand the boycott. If there was an establishment celebrating the failures of my employer or any failures of my loved ones (in the case the Pirate players themselves), I too would ask my friends and family to boycott that establishment.



  34. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    May 18, 2011 12:09 pm

    I’m with you on this Ginny. I also went back and listened to the ‘DVE interview. In my opinion though, the Pirates organization is in a can’t win situation with this incident.

    I found the depiction of the conversation with Frank Coonelly interesting because it did not reflect my own experiences with Frank Coonelly. I had a problem with the Pirates a a few years ago when they changed how they “rewarded” season ticket holders. The switch was made from a years-of-service type system to one that focused on the dollar value of your ticket plan. While I have been a full season ticket holder for 20 years (the past 14 of which I’ve lived 200 miles of more from Pittsburgh, including three seasons on the west coast), my seats aren’t what anyone would consider high priced seats, but they’re what I could afford initially & I think are the best seats in the house. I thought the change unfair because all of a sudden, after 15 or so years, my bonuses (tickets in certain seating areas, special promotional items)were being diminished – at least in my eyes. I wrote a letter to the Pirates outlining my concerns and disappointment in this switch, pointing out that for an organization trying to convince fans that it wasn’t about the money that this actually reinforced the message that it was about the money.

    A week or so later, I received a phone call from Frank Coonelly. We talked for 45 minutes about everything from my original complaint to what I thought about the direction of the organization to my thoughts on a ton of subjects, including the lack of good beer choices on the 300 level. During the conversation, I found Coonelly to be respectful, attentive and engaging. I didn’t feel as if I was being talked down to or patronized. I can honestly say that pomposity and arrogance never entered into the conversation. That has not been my experience with everyone within the organization with whom I’ve spoken, but it hasn’t been my experience with Frank Coonelly.

    We all bring our own perceptions to how we are being spoken to based on our own experiences. Even more so when reading e-mails, blogs and comments to blogs. The likelihood for tone, inflection and meaning to be miscronstrued is very high.

    I’m sure some will read my comments and brush them off because they’ll feel I’m just being an apologist for the Pirates’ management. I’m not. I’m a Pirates fan through and through. I support the guys on the field playing the game. I, too, get frustrated with management and ownership decisions, but I have no control over them. I vent to my friends about it, but I’m not going to walk away from the team because I don’t like the decision making of the guys in charge.

    Here’s the thing, though, I cannot control what the owners/managers of the team do. I can’t impose my will on them to do what I think is best for the team. I’m not a baseball expert. I have no experience in evaluating talent. I could give a rat’s ass about the statistical analyses that many seem to be focused on instead of enjoying what I consider to be such a great game to watch and enjoy.

    It does me no good to get caught up in the constant negativity and criticism that many seem to thrive upon when it comes to the Pirates. Why dwell on something I have no ability to control?

    For those who want to say “If you stopped going and buying tickets, they would sell the team to someone who would pour money into making the Pirates champs again”, get real. Professional baseball is a business. The business of baseball is broken. Plus, it’s my choice to spend my money however I feel is best for me.

    I love baseball and Pittsburgh is my hometown. I support all of my hometown teams and will do so regardless of their records. It would be fantastic to once again be on top of the baseball standings. I want that more than anyone I know.

    My apologies for the breadth of this. I think I just needed to vent.



  35. unsatisfied
    May 18, 2011 12:09 pm

    maybe if coonelly and the succos ownership took the measures necessary to take their profits and utilized them put a quality, competitive baseball club on the field, they could avoid this kind of thing.

    btw — they’re still shitty.



  36. mindymin
    May 18, 2011 12:22 pm

    Wow there are some long winded responses up there. I will be brief –

    1) I agree – unfortunate incident, but dont think its worth getting all a flutter about. Mistakes were made, apologies offered, we all move on.

    2) Maybe if the Pirates organization spent as much time, oh I dont know, fielding a decent team unaffiliated bar promotions like this one wouldnt be successful, funny or relevant.

    Problem lies with the sucky ass Pirates, not the bar owner…shes merely funny.



  37. bucdaddy
    May 18, 2011 12:25 pm

    Estelle,

    Do you sell a lot of Budweiser?* A lot of Miller?** A lot of Coors?***

    Because there’s a word for people who give aid and comfort to the enemy.****

    Just sayin’.

    *–Helps St. Louis Cardinals pay Albert Pujols
    **–Helps Milwaukee Brewers pay Ryan Braun
    ***–Helps Colorado Rockies pay Todd Helton
    ****–The very very short version of the Pirates Fan’s Beer Manifesto.

    unsatisfied: Apparently you don’t pay any attention to what the Pirates spend in the draft.



  38. Joe K.
    May 18, 2011 12:44 pm

    I think the Pirates would have been better off leaving this issue alone. While the employees have a right to boycott, they don’t have a right to do with company e-mail.



  39. Julia
    May 18, 2011 12:54 pm

    Thoughts:

    1) It’s pretty funny that a bar would offer discounts for the Pirates losing. Ha!

    2) It’s the same premise as bars offering deals when teams win. Just a different side of the coin.

    3) The women who started the boycott should have never used their work emails. In some places, that would be enough to get you fired, since after all, you knowingly violated the company’s email policy. If I were these ladies’ bosses, they would be suspended.

    4)It does no good to paint a broad brush with Frank Coonelly. Like it or not, the bar owner went into that conversation with a chip on her shoulder, and is bound to be biased in her report of the incident. Also, when she is getting that much publicity out of it, it’s natural for her to make the conversation sound worse than maybe it actually was.

    5) Pirates, for the future, sometimes the best response is no response.



  40. elysianfantasy
    May 18, 2011 12:58 pm

    I’m with you, Ginny. Or should I say with the Pirates? The bar owner can do whatever she wants to do (and I do think the promotion is clever!). However, the Pirates have two options: look like assholes or look like asshats. I think they chose the “asshat” option, seeing as how they didn’t discourage Estelle from continuing her promo and reminded their employees to be more careful with how they use their social media tools. What do folks expect them to do? Fire the employee for a lapse in judgment by using her work email? Shoot. If you could get fired for every stupid email sent from work, everyone here (including me) would have been fired a LONG time ago!

    I’m no fan of baseball and could give a rat’s patootie about the Pirates, but in this case, I think people should take it easy on them. Frankly, that this even touches the word “news” makes me totally sadcakes.



  41. Cindy T.
    May 18, 2011 1:02 pm

    Publicity for the Pirates, publicity for the Stroll Inn, cheaper beer for people who want beer — everybody wins, right? Oh well everybody but the freakin baseball team.



  42. elysianfantasy
    May 18, 2011 1:02 pm

    Not to mention, I don’t think the Pirates had a choice in leaving the matter alone. The bar owner brought it upon herself to contact the Pirates. Personally, I think she could have just said, “To hell with it,” and went about her merry way but that’s just my $0.02. Had they not responded, people would have been even MORE upset. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t in this case.



  43. AngryMongo
    May 18, 2011 1:11 pm

    1. Employees should not have used company email or other resources to organize anything against a bar owner.

    2. Coonelly should have called to apologize for a grave misjudgement of his employees.

    Basically, if you take her at her word, and I did listen to the DVE interview, Coonelly went out of his way to be a prick and condoned the boycott.

    Frankly, whether it was one low level sales exec or John Nutting himself, it is a reflection on the Pirates oragnizaion that a boycott was attempted. This is ridiculous. This should have been diffused at the point of ignition. Yet, it’s now into multiple days of the news cycle.

    I side with the Stroll Inn. And for those who cry, “OOh, you serve Bud and Coors Light, you are a yinzer peasant bar.” Grow up. They can’t all highfalutin, microbrew, smug establishments. THIS IS PITTSBURGH.

    Besides, the only thing shittier than Bud is the Bucs.



  44. Butcher's Dog
    May 18, 2011 1:31 pm

    See what happens when it rains all the time? And anyone praying for another loss to save another nickel on a pitcher ain’t watchin’ on cable. He can’t afford it. Just sayin’.



  45. Chris
    May 18, 2011 1:48 pm

    Two points.

    1. Nutting is a thief.
    2. Anyone gives their money to a thief is a fool.

    The Stroll Inn FTW.



  46. PittinDC
    May 18, 2011 1:56 pm

    I personally just think that it is hilarious that there is anyone, Pirates employee or not, that still cares enough about people bashing the Pirates to boycott an establishment over a funny promotion. I mean, even the employees have to realize how ridiculous a 20 year losing streak is, right? Whether the Pirates organization is actively trying to better the team or not, the fact remains that the team is totally sucky in it’s current form, and if the fans of the team can’t laugh about it, they’ll just cry.



  47. bluzdude
    May 18, 2011 2:00 pm

    Man, how can I get in on some of this Pirate-generated pub?

    How about if I promise to be 5% funnier on my blog when the Pirates lose?

    Come’n git some, Coonelly!



  48. spoon
    May 18, 2011 2:01 pm

    @Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl “We talked for 45 minutes about everything from my original complaint to what I thought about the direction of the organization to my thoughts on a ton of subjects, including the lack of good beer choices on the 300 level”

    He hasn’t done anything about the beer issue yet :P



  49. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    May 18, 2011 2:19 pm

    @spoon — I know! I also add this every year on my season ticket holder survey. I’ve already filed a complaint this year about this, as well as the switch to move the Primanti’s and pierogies down to the first level. It makes no sense to have a Mrs. T’s pierogie sign hanging from a stand where you can’t get pierogies.



  50. Monty
    May 18, 2011 3:25 pm

    Reading the comments to this blog is beginning to give me a complex about drinking cans of Budweiser for the last 25 years.