Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tinkerbell Dies, Again

Professional sports in Utica has failed once again, and it's all your fault.

After just three weeks, the New York State League of Professional Baseball appears to be ready to cease operations after Friday's games, although founder and commissioner Jay Acton said that isn't certain.

"The league will shut down as of Friday due to a lack of fan support," said Dave Cash, the Utica native and former major league second baseman and coach who is manager of the Utica Brewmasters...

There are four teams in the fledgling league - the Brewmasters, the Herkimer Trailbusters, the Rome Coppers and the Oneida Barge Bucks - and all games are played at Donovan Stadium at Murnane Field. The league drew 2,677 fans on opening night, July 3, but attendance has never topped 100 since, Acton said.

"The other night we had 13 people (in the stands)," Acton said. "I had 18 people playing baseball."

Cash, a multi-sport star at Thomas R. Proctor High School in the 1960s before going on to a 13-year major league career, expressed anger at the lack of support from area fans.

"I'm disappointed to say the least," he said. "I just can't believe people didn't know what was going on."

With all due respect to Mr. Cash, he's blaming the wrong people.

It's never, ever the audience's fault when something fails. The league's collapse can be directly traced to the fact it felt entitled to the support of the community. Why, they just had to hire some players, play some baseball and..TADA!..they'd be a huge success. The area was obligated to show up because, dang it, it was baseball!

Sadly, that's not how reality works. In the movies you can bring Tinkerbell back to life just by wishing really, really hard that it happens, but no matter how much the backers of baseball wanted it too succeed it wasn't enough. Good wishes and happy thoughts might be able to bring a fairy back from the dead, but they don't fill the stands with bodies. Marketing does. "We didn't get the support we expected" is just a lazy way of saying "We didn't have an effective marketing plan" or, in this particular case, "We didn't have any marketing plan".

Update: Strikeslip makes the connection. Heh.