Forget what the standings say: The Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles are winning this season.
Winning comes in ways other than scoring runs on the field in this case. For the A’s and O’s it’s this: They’ve both had great ideas to grow their fanbases and, thus, grow the game of baseball. Next week, the A’s will be hosting a game where all the tickets are free in honor of their 50th anniversary in Oakland. The Orioles, meanwhile, have started to give out free upper-deck seats to kids when adults buy a ticket.
Now, this might not jibe with the idea of making as much money as possible at all times, but you know what? That’s OK. Baseball as a whole isn’t hurting for cash. Even a team like the A’s — who are traditionally viewed as a small-market team with short pockets — can afford one free game this season.
That’s the topic of this week’s installment of my Open Mike video series. Free baseball, I’d say, is good baseball. Especially for kids. You want to grow the game? Court the children. How many of us became baseball fans when we were 37? Probably not as many as became baseball fans when we were 7.
While I think the A’s and O’s rightfully deserve your applause, I also think their ideas could get a lot bigger. Why can’t every team have a free game once per year? Don’t say because they need to make money. The community goodwill and long-term potential would outweigh the short-term profits.
Heck, why can’t MLB organize a day for free baseball games around the league? It might be worth it for the PR alone. If not, I suspect it would be worth it for the chance to introduce new fans to the game and to the ballpark experience.
PREVIOUSLY ON OPEN MIKE
• Bryce Harper, Derek Jeter, brawls and my dreams for baseball in 2018
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