Orioles Risk Alienating Fanbase Further By Waiving Veteran Player
When the Orioles decided not to schedule FanFest this winter, that "should have been an indication that there weren't going to be a lot of autographs there worth paying for," but displacing whatever star power remains on the roster "might convince a lot more fans that Orioles tickets aren't worth paying for anymore," according to Peter Schmuck of the BALTIMORE SUN. Orioles Exec VP & GM Mike Elias is "right that it makes no business sense to pay" 2B Jonathan Villar $10M or so to lose 90 or 100 games in '20, but there is "danger in stripping away all of the identity of a team that has whittled its fan base down to the point where it's actually possible to imagine attendance dropping into six figures" in '20 or '21. There also is danger because the Orioles' "geographical rival," the Nationals, "probably locked up all the undecided adolescent baseball fans" in the area with their World Series victory this season. Meanwhile, the Ravens are in the midst of "one of the most exciting and compelling seasons" in the team's history just across the parking lot at M&T Bank Stadium (BALTIMORE SUN, 12/1).
A BAD LOOK: ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote the Orioles' decision to waive Villar is "soulless, and incredibly disrespectful to what is left" of the club's fanbase. Villar was "one of the few pieces" on last season's team that fans "could count on." But he was "in line for a good raise through arbitration," and the Orioles "don't want to pay him that." These are "trying times for the Orioles' ownership," which "suffered an enormous legal defeat in its recently resolved case" against the Nationals and MLB over rights fees to be paid by Orioles-controlled MASN. But for Orioles fans, that is a "fight among billionaires that should have little bearing on their experience." All longtime fans see is that CF Adam Jones is "gone, and so are" 3B Manny Machado and former manager Buck Showalter. It "may be many years" before the club is "again relevant in the hypercompetitive AL East." Olney: "The team is alienating customers, ignoring them" (ESPN.com, 12/1).