Teachable Moments 2012: The Value of Consistent Casting

I could apologize for the delay between posts, but if you read this blog at all, you know full well why the delay is here (it starts with a "w" and ends with an "orking my a$$ off").

It's the postseason now, you all remember that right, the thing the Twins used to do every October before the current unpleasantness began? And while we're all plotting out our offseason blue prints for returning the Twins to relevancy, there are other things to think about, the kinds of things that may not result in wins or losses but do relate to the business of being a fan. Those are the kinds of things that I'm taking on as subjects of these "Teachable Moment" blogs.

There was a moment near the end of the season where my wife, my father and a colleague at my high school all said the same thing while we watched a game. Namely: "Who the hell is that guy?"

Every one of those three people are serious Twins fans, not bandwagon, casual afternoon channel surfer fans. They watch most games (either out of personal interest or because they married a die-hard), and could easily rattle off the owners of retired numbers, the holders of franchise records, and where they were for big moments (World Championships) and little ones (Kubel's cycle, Baker's near perfecto).

Yet each one of them was befuddled by something, or rather someone in the Twins uniform. Samuel DeWho? Matt CarWhat?
 Chances are if you are reading my writing, then you, like me, are still deeply interested in the Twins despite another 90 loss season. You clearly care more than most average fans, even most serious fans. Maybe even enough to distinguish Pedro Florimon from Eduardo Escobar.

But this isn't about shaking our heads at people who lose track of the Chris Hermanns and Kyle Waldrops of the franchise. It's about what it means to have those serious fans fade away from their old commitment to the team.

As far as I can figure, losing once-serious fans to an abyss of indifference is accepting that you're going to have fewer return customers to Twins Brand Family Entertainment next year leading to a dip in revenues (and by association payroll budget). I'm sure the Pohlads and the other front office people know that and are ready to compensate with more attractive group ticket packages, more food/beverage discounts and generally more ways to bring in casual fans. But as the losing becomes more and more habitual, fewer and fewer casual fans will see a (still pricey) trip to the ballpark (or to the team merchandising store) as a worthwhile expense.

Suddenly that "dip" in revenues becomes a "crater" and that return to respectability that we die-hards crave gets pushed farther and farther into the background. So, losing "once-serious" fans is a bit of a dilemma. But there is a solution.

And that's just 3 seasons
of dead people!
 As my wife pointed out, it's not the current Twins are terrible that stops her from watching, it's that she knows the team won't be back for a little while, and doesn't want to get too attached only to see one of them leave. That goes for the talented like Ben Revere, Josh Willingham, Jared Burton and Ryan Doumit (couldn't they all get traded?). And that goes for the not-so talented (witness my love for the probably doomed Luis Perdomo). For my father, loving a current Twin is like trying to adopt a pet lobster from a seafood restaurant, it makes you happy but you just know that something bad's going to happen. My wife likened it instead to the days of our courtship (when we'd mix baseball talk with Lost episodes). Sure there are some interesting new characters, but given how easy it is for the writers to kill off old characters, do you really want to get burned again?

So, while the "throw out the bums!" shouts get louder, remember that there's something to be said for consistency. There's something to be said for building around a few key parts and encouraging fans to learn to love a new face. If we subscribe to a model of constant turnover we may start slipping into oblivion as a modern day Toronto, or Pittsburgh or [shudder] Kansas City.

I know we can't (and shouldn't) keep everybody. But when in doubt, remember that glorious summer when the Twins returned to relevancy over a decade ago, when after years of turnover the Twins committed to a group of young players (who were admittedly more talented than the current bunch), and invited fans to just "Get to Know 'Em".

 Maybe it won't be next year, or even the year after, but when the time comes it will fall on the diehards to answer "Who the Hell is that" with "Miguel Sano," or "Aaron Hicks" or "Byron Buxton...you should really get to know 'em."

No comments:

Post a Comment