|What would Judge Judy say|
about the Yankees' new ticket policy?
I was sitting at my desk in my office in the big city yesterday afternoon when my cell phone rang with "Unknown" on the Caller ID. I very cautiously answered the phone. It turns out that David K. Li of the New York Post wanted to talk to me. My very first, totally primal, reaction when he introduced himself was to think, What the heck did I do to get the Post's attention? Did I do something wacky after my 10-mile race in single-degree weather that warranted a Post story?
The reporter then explained the purpose of his call. He had seen my Squawk about the Yankees' new ticket policy, which is being spun as helping fans against fraud (even though hard-stock tickets can also be counterfeit), when it's really about increasing the Yankees' bottom line by killing the use of StubHub. In fact, the initial stories in the mainstream media spun the team's pablum about this ticket fraud non-issue. (Incidentally, I saw somebody say on Twitter yesterday afternoon: "Amazing how the Yankees are experiencing so much fraud with print at home tickets, but no other franchises are." Exactly!)
So I gave Li my spiel against the new policy: how the team likes the free market, until fans use the free market to get cheap tickets. Then all of a sudden, the team wants price floors so that the ticket prices don't go below a certain level. I talked about how I never had a problem with free agents and even teams making money, per se, but that the flip side was that fans should be able to use that same free market to buy and sell tickets at whatever prices the market will bear. And at any rate, the Yankees already made money the first time they sold the tickets. Why did they insist on getting a cut with the second time the tickets were sold, especially when it would hurt their own fan base?
I also pointed out that it will also hurt fans' flexibility in buying tickets. No longer will they be able to go to StubHub and get a deal on the day of the game. And how the team was so shortsighted on this decision. Because not only will they not get those fans into the ballpark, but that they will not get those fans' money from them buying food, drinks, and souvenirs. We also talked about how this new policy would hurt ticket sellers, too. Most of whom are season ticket holders just looking to get some of their money back for games they can't attend.
Anyhow, Li wrote up a great story that made the Post's website last night, and that will be in Thursday's paper. The article correctly points out how much this will negatively affect the average fan. I am quoted several times in the piece, including the kicker at the end. Which, if you know anything about journalism, is a great place to be!
But the Yankees are still trying to spin this as somehow helping the fans. From the article (emphasis added):
“Mobile is the most convenient, accessible, efficient and safe way to provide tickets,” said Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion. “Yankees fans are extremely happy, this is what they wanted. The only unhappy people are the ticket brokers and ticket speculators.”Listen up, Alice McGillion. If you honestly think that Yankee fans "are extremely happy" over this new policy, you need to get your head out of your you know what. As I always say, don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining!
While some Yankee fans may have welcomed the mobile option, nobody was saying to themselves, "Gee, what I really want is for the team to take away my flexbility in being able to buy a cheap ticket at the last minute." Or "Gee, I really want to help the Yankees and Ticketmaster make even more money." And, Ms. McGillion, most of the people selling tickets -- and buying tickets -- are your most dedicated, hardcore fans. How do you think this move is going to sell in your fan base?
This is one of the many things odious about the Hal Steinbrenner regime. Since he was born on third base, but thinks he hit a triple, he doesn't have a clue how bad these quotes sound from the team's PR person (!), especially when they are sandwiched next to quotes from actual fans. And because Prince Hal is so worried about looking like his father, he does the opposite of George in so many ways, including never seeming to fire anybody nor wanting accountability in anything. Then again, I guess the front office is doing his bidding in squeezing every last drop out of the fans, the way his big innovation for this winter was to have the Yankees be the only team not to sign a free agent. At least it used to be that we knew the high ticket prices were going to getting the best players. Not anymore.
And, as I wrote in the blog the other day (also, thanks to Mets Police for highlighting it in their blog), and also told the Post reporter, the Mets' Spring Training Sendoff that Squawker Jon and I attended on Monday was very disorganized. But I appreciated that they tried to do something nice for their fans. (Incidentally, Jon and I each got an emailed apology from the Mets yesterday for the logistical problems at the event -- and a voucher for two free field-level tickets for Monday-Thursday games through June of this year. Can you imagine the Yankees ever doing that?)
I have written in this blog about how the Yankees' ticket sales are declining, while the Mets are increasing. So does the Yankee organization think that screwing over their own fans is the way to arrest this trend? And it's one thing for the team to have the arrogance of doing whatever it wants when they were winning world championship after world championship, and were the top team in town. But, unfortunately, the team's front office still has that arrogance, even in a time when their crosstown rivals are actually putting a better product on -- and off -- the field. This is the time people in Yankeeland ought to be looking long and hard at innovative ways to get their fans to keep on coming to games. Not alienating them yet again.
You know, I've been a Yankee fan since I was 10 years old. I will remain a Yankees fan for the rest of my life. But gee, it would be nice if some of this passion was reciprocated. Or at least if the organization didn't pee on me and my fellow Yankee fans' legs and tell us it's raining!