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People got mad at A.J. Burnett for attendance shaming

Sep 19, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

a.j. burnett getty Getty Images

It’s the time of the year for people to fret about attendance at ballparks of contending clubs. People shaming fans for not purchasing tickets in ways that they’d never think about shaming customers who declined to by any other product. Outside of baseball it’s usually the company’s fault for not marketing or pricing their product in optimal ways. In sports it’s the customer’s fault. Weird.

Into that odd environment, Pirates starter A.J. Burnett tweeted this the other night following a loss to the Padres:

While he didn’t put the finest point on it in the world, the obvious subtext to the tweet is “you people should be showing up in greater numbers and it’s frustrating that you’re not.” As far as attendance-shaming goes it’s about as tame as it comes (who wouldn’t want more fans in the seats?) but it still it led to all kinds of people getting mad at Burnett and giving him an earful on Twitter.

Last night Burnett, with a nice save, tweeted this:


Probably worth noting that the attendance was 27,640 last night compared to 22,250 on the night he complained. An improvement, but not exactly a sellout or even a massive increase. Like that gift strike call after a manager gets ejected, this was a makeup call by Burnett.

In any event: Politics. Religion. Park attendance. Some things just shouldn’t be discussed in public.

  1. rollinghighwayblues - Sep 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM


    Please stop, AJ.

    • emdash01 - Sep 19, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      His all-around style and manner really scream “high school shop teacher with totally sweet van,” don’t they? Bless his heart.

      • rollinghighwayblues - Sep 19, 2013 at 11:40 AM

        More like the guy who did this every morning:

      • apkyletexas - Sep 19, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        Burnett is the leader on that team, and he’s not afraid to call out anyone – including the fans. Pittsburgh has needed a man like that for a long, long time.

    • pjmarn6 - Sep 19, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      King Kong, maybe the fans are angry at the reporter’s abysmal failure to use the English language correctly and are boycotting the games. It is “BUY” not “BY”. Go back to law school, and college and get your tuition refunded.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 19, 2013 at 2:26 PM

        Ah, yes, the Pirati knew yesterday that Craig would have a random typo on a post about them today, so they boycotted the park in protest. Your theory is tots believable. Do go on.

  2. rickdobrydney - Sep 19, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Head case from way, way back…….

  3. APBA Guy - Sep 19, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Add A’s managing GP and Friend of Bud Lew Wolff to the sight of rich old men whining about attendance. On the day after yet another sewage backup at the Mausoleum, Wolff was moaning about how the fans of Oakland won’t pay $ 17 for parking and $ 35+ to see baseball on a football field. Then the team under-reports attendance (Claimed 20k, there were at least 25-26,000 there).

    Last year Oakland averaged 20,728 per game. This year it’s 22,140, a 6.8% increase. The team announced that it was removing the tarp for the upper sections for the playoffs to accommodate demand, raising capacity to over 46,000.

    And Wolff is bitching. Try looking across the Bay, old man. Take a lesson or two in marketing 101.

  4. indaburg - Sep 19, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Ah, Burnett isn’t the brightest bulb but I understand his frustration. Shoot, 22,250? What I would do for that kind of attendance at the Trop. I’m embarassed for Tampa Bay, managing 36,000 combined attendance total in 3 nights versus the Rangers. Two teams in a playoff hunt. I wish I could loan some of my enthusiasm for the team, for the sport, to the rest of the area. They have such a gem and it’s not appreciated. Yeah, in the grand scheme of things there are far more important issues, but this game matters to me and it makes me a bit sad that others don’t share my passion. We’re going to lose this team. (Yes, yes, we’re gonna lose this team.)

    • stex52 - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      Indy, is it really all about the Trop, or is Tampa Bay just not a good baseball area? They were talking about this and Cleveland last night. I will carry the thought to Houston, too.

      ” If they put an empty football helmet on the 50-yard line, 50,000 people would show up to watch it.”

      Is that part of the problem, too? Football is much more popular in Houston, but the metro area is so huge that once they get a decent team again I don’t think the Astros will have many problems.
      But is the football disease part of the Rays’ Problem?

      • dan1111 - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        Of course, baseball has more than ten times the games. How many people would show up for daily football games?

      • indaburg - Sep 19, 2013 at 5:34 PM

        Footballitis could be part of the problem, but this area is just bad for sports in general. I think it has to do with the largely transient population. Not many people are from here. When you meet an older native, it’s a rarity. “You were born in Florida? Back in 1935? Really? Before air conditioning? Wow.” Everyone is from someplace else, and I think they largely keep their old hometown allegiances. Add in the distance to the stadium and the perception that it is a lousy place to watch a game (yes, it’s a bit of a culture shock to those of us accustomed to outdoor baseball, but it really isn’t that bad) with a population that largely doesn’t care for the team, and… sigh. You get 14,000 people to watch a contending team with exciting young players.

        To further my point that this is just a lousy sports town, people in this area don’t show up much for the Bucs games either. The Bucs last season hardly had one home game on tv due to poor attendance and the NFL blackout policy. Currently, the Bucs rank 24 out of 29 teams in attendance (a few teams haven’t had home games yet, that’s why it’s not out of 32). Of course, it’s a small sample size. One home game. In 2012, the Bucs ranked 31 out of 32 teams. Oakland was last. College football may be a bigger draw but it is hard to say. We don’t have a local college team that people show up for either. USF, our local college with a Big East team, draws terribly. The Gators in Gainesville do well, and the Seminoles draw, but they’re not Tampa Bay. Surprisingly, the Lightning, our hockey team of all teams–they do the best in comparison to other teams in their sport. Last season, they ranked 8 of 30 teams. They weren’t even that good last year.

        Anyhow, I get where Burnett is coming from. These guys are putting on a good show, and it’s just frustrating that nobody is buying the product. Shaming the fan base may be counterproductive, but any of us might feel the same in our respective fields–if we were producing an absolutely amazing product, but no one was buying it. I just think that if Burnett was upset about 22k, he would be downright catatonic about 14k.

  5. bravojawja - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    Hey, AJ, you gonna subsidize Rust Belt families’ ticket and parking prices with that $82.5 million you have lying around?

  6. pisano - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    Hey Pirate fans, if I were you I would be thankful for what he’s given you, look at the egg he laid on the Yankees for $82 million. So he made him a remark that he probably shouldn’t have, be thankful for what he’s given you. And look at it this way, no matter what he’s done, good, bad, or ugly, the Yankees are paying for most of it.

  7. coloradogolfcoupons - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Rich maggots complaining about fans,,,get over it asshole. Try raising a family of 4 when a loaf of bread is $4-5 and your take-home after taxes is $$800/wk. You want us to pay you $20 to park our car in a stadium lot that in most cases was built with OUR TAX MONEY? $4 for a soda that costs .25 wholesale/ A $5 hot dog? Ticket prices up to $2000?

    Pound sand, for all we care. TV is hardly even affordable, much less a trip to the park. Teams getting 2-3 BILLION/year for TV rights, and still trying to pry the last dollar from our wallet. You ought to pay US to attend the games, especially when we have to smell raw sewage, or watch teams that PLAY like raw sewage.

    The next rich asswipe that complains about attendance ought to be castrated so as not to procreate.

    • rollinghighwayblues - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      Well, that escalated quickly.

      • stex52 - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:29 PM

        Remind me not to ask if he’s having a good day.

      • cincinata - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:35 PM

        I think Colorado just woke up, or he is moving to Pittsbgh!

      • coloradogolfcoupons - Sep 19, 2013 at 6:22 PM

        Now if you’re talking Highway 61 blues I’m down

    • coloradogolfcoupons - Sep 19, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      Of course AJ needs the money. Those new tattoos are not cheap

    • genericcommenter - Sep 19, 2013 at 7:59 PM

      Don’t forget those who can’t even afford to shop at the fancy bread store.

  8. xmatt0926x - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    It’s a story as old as time. Athletes just rarely have a long-term understanding of the current team they are playing on. Twenty effin’ years of losing baseball. A whole generation of fans in Pittsburgh who have no idea of what winning baseball is and all is supposed to be fixed in one season?

    Craig is absolutely correct on this absurd idea that sports teams should expect some sort of delusional loyalty even when you consistently put an inferior product on the field. Why spend your money on a bad product? This is not a question of chicken or the egg. It’s the job of whatever business it may be to provide a good product to it’s customers. That comes first.

    You hear some teams over the years say they can’t spend because they lack revenue because of low fan attendance. Whatever. Put the competitive team out there first and then hope your fan base buys it. End of story. I’m not a Pittsburgh fan but I’m old enough to remember when they were an elite franchise and they drew fine. They will again.

    Again, athletes just see today. They have no cares as to what went on for years that drove the fans away to begin with. This doesn’t even touch on the absurdity of millionaire athletes taking jabs at middle class America for not spending a big bucks to take a couple kids to a game.

  9. banger60 - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    Once a jack-ss ………….

  10. yankeesfanlen - Sep 19, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Wasn’t Monday night when the Steelers were playing?

    • bravojawja - Sep 19, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      At Cincy, so I guess everyone was at a bar watching.

  11. janessa31888 - Sep 19, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Cleveland “fans” are even worse. All they do is hate on the Dolans and whine, whine, whine. And yet they continue to support the worst football team in the NFL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In my short lifetime the Indians have been far more successful than the stupid Clowns, so I tend to be more forgiving of the Dolans and their cheapness. If A.J played in Cleveland, he might see 12,000 or less in the stadium. We got totally shamed by Tigers fans taking over our stadium.

  12. steelers88 - Sep 19, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    Maybe the fans aren’t showing up because the Pirates aren’t that good of a team!

    • genericcommenter - Sep 19, 2013 at 8:01 PM

      Yeah, maybe they should try being in the playoff-hunt!

  13. lawson1974 - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    AJ has every right to shame the fans. They are a disgrace.

    If they aren’t fans at all, his message isn’t for them.

    But the guys (and girls) that will get mad if a player leaves in free agency or would be apoplectic if the team ever insinuated it might move , but won’t show up at the stadium, should be shamed for the frauds that they are.

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