Edit/update: I don't want to bump this story from the top spot but I do want to mention tonight's CanAm game... the Cutters beat the Pride 5-4 on a walkoff wild pitch in the 10th. Jeeeeeeez.
In late July of 2005, when I hadn't received any of the merchandise and special opportunities with my season ticket package that I was supposed to get in April [some of which NEVER wound up coming], my mother urged me to contact the Better Business Bureau and press the issue. I didn't, however, because I thought (and still think) that the relationship between a sports team and a fan is different from a typical business-consumer relationship - it's one of mutual passion, respect and dedication. Unfortunately, I've come to learn over these five seasons that respect and dedication is not a two-way street with the Spirit organization.
I'm glad I wasn't at the game yesterday (which in and of itself speaks volumes -- I used to be pissed whenever I'd miss a game), because if I was, I would have been followed and harassed by Spirit staff solely because they know who I am and I am always there.
I will repeat what I said last night in the chat: If Nick and the Spirit want Fraser to be a morgue with no fan support, that's their decision and that's OK. It's a dumb decision, and one that's destined to fail, but it's theirs, so whatever.
But that is an entirely separate issue from following around and harrassing repeated paying customers and treating them like criminals or hooligans - especially since none of us have ever caused trouble at any game, at home or on the road.
What especially troubles me is that security was hovering around ERNIE.... ERNIE!!!!! Seriously, what would/could Ernie do? Is that how the Spirit treat an elder member of our community who has spent god knows how much money and time coming to see the Spirit over these past 5 seasons?
And all of this was done while Eddie "Triple Whopper" Lantigua and his band of Capitales got the VIP treatment that season ticket holders are supposed to get but never do.
The fact of the matter is that we are not the only people who are sick of the way the Spirit run their organization. If I had a dime for every time I heard someone say "I would have renewed my season tickets if I received even one call from the Spirit over the off-season," I would have... well... 40 cents, because I've heard that from four separate ex-season ticket holders. I'd imagine that they are not the only ones.
I have traveled on the road MANY times to see the Spirit play and not ONCE have I EVER been acknowledged or thanked by "The Big Boss," nor have we been acknowledged by the minions without going up and initiating conversation at them. I think the idea is that we are supposed to bow down and be thankful to the benevolent boss for bringing the team into existence, and that gratitude isn't a two way street.
The issue seems pretty clear to me. In the business world, "The Lopardo Way" 'was always successful. He never had to listen to anybody and he could hire mindless minions to do his work for him. But in this business you can't be cold and ruthless and impersonal. And in this business, 'the way things are done' has failed. The team has failed to win a Can Am title and attendance has never reached a solid level (and god knows where it would be this year without Slugger's reading freebies). The disrespect of the fans isn't helping things. And the jettisoning of quality employees like the Seguin brothers hasn't helped either, but I'm sure that they didn't fall in line and perhaps they forgot to Heil.
It's not just us. Last season someone was thrown out for not standing up during God Bless America, which is not, for the record, our national anthem. Again, if that's the way the Spirit want to run their organization, more power to them, but it's bound to fail. And in fact, if rumors are to be believed, it IS failing and Nick is bailing out before the season is even over. It seems to me like the only reason Nick didn't take his ball and go home after last season is that doing so would be admitting the failure of "his way or the highway." But it looks like it's about to be the highway (for them, not for us, because I can assure you, we will be in Worcester or Nashua next summer if/when the Spirit fold... there is no shortage of baseball in New England).
The Spirit have never been receptive toward ideas that could increase fan connection and passion. I emailed them before the 2005 season about sanctioning a semi-independent fan club, and I got an email back saying, basically, "not interested." I have gotten the same response when I've requested that the Spirit set up a message forum, or link to ours, or NEFANs, so that fans can develop a connection and talk about the games. Nope, not interested.
Why not? I'm guessing it's because someone might say something that's not 100% positive and worshipful. That's certainly part of the reason why we get the disrespect we do. Despite our constant displays of respect and dedication to the team, sometimes, on the blog, we call a spade a spade.
I'm calling a spade a spade here - the treatment received by fans yesterday was absolutely despicable.
Like I said, not wanting people to be vocal is one thing, but being the Fun Police is an entirely different issue. But beyond that, having actual security shadowing people who have not caused problems in 5 years is simply uncalled for.
Perhaps they should get security to surround the idiot parents who let their kids run amok through the aisles and constantly run in to people.
3 years ago a kid crawled on to the dugout and stayed up there for 5 minutes. Finally, despite the fact that I knew I would probably get kicked out for going on the dugout, I went up there and got the kid down.
I got no thank you from the moron parents or from the idiot usher despite the fact that I did his job.
But at Fraser Field, I'm used to being treated in an ungrateful way, so it didn't really bother me.