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Morning Java: Why did Cole-mania sell only 8,000 tickets?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media


>> The Wednesday column loves the night Gerrit Cole enjoyed, and even more so his level-headed response to it all. Hope you enjoy.

One thing I’m sure you’ll enjoy is how Cole carried himself afterward …

Anyway, here’s our full Pirates coverage, spearheaded by beat man Rob Biertempfel, as well as a quality photo gallery of Cole’s debut, by Chris Horner.

Two news pieces, a column, multiple pics and videos … and all it takes is a couple fact-based tweets to set the hyper-sensitive segment of the Pirates’ fan base into a frenzy.

Here they are, in order …

Attendance: 30,614. That’s 8,000 more than #Pirates projected to draw for the night before Cole announcement.

The security fiasco aside, #Pirates had four days to sell tickets for this and only sold 8,000. Not sure what’s applause-worthy about that.

Don’t get me wrong. People here clearly having a great time, and Cole didn’t disappoint. But let’s not pretend city went bonkers over this.

Oh, the humanity.

For anyone who hasn’t already had a seizure and can somehow continue reading, let’s spell this out: Before the Pirates announced or even leaked out that Cole was coming up, they had sold 18,000 tickets. That was in part due to the Groupon promotion that does surprisingly well.

According to the Pirates — important four words there — their projection was that they’d be at about 22,000 for the game with or without Cole because of the normal pace of sales.

So, 30,614 pay, which means that 8,000-plus can reasonably, demonstrably and fairly be assigned to buying tickets specifically off the boost Cole generated.

If the city of Pittsburgh had truly been gripped by Cole-mania and everything that a lot of folks were portraying, you’d better believe that more than 8,000 tickets — over a four-day span, so this wasn’t a walkup sale, either — would have been snapped up off it. Also, among the sections at PNC Park last night that were emptiest were the cheapest.

Why, pray tell, is this such a touchy topic for so many?

The Pirates have been losers for 20 years, so the public has every right to want to be patient in investing. I get that. The past two collapses undoubtedly have contributed to a current downturn in attendance of roughly 1,000 per game. I get that, too.

Where’s the fire here?

What’s the hot button I’m missing?

Someday, the Pirates will be popular enough that debates like this will be moot. With all the hype surrounding Cole’s callup, at least within baseball circles, maybe some had hoped this would be it. There most certainly was a lot of talk about ticket sales before the game.

But someone brings it up afterward, and the response is a general shriek of terror?

>> I’ll remind here, even though most will ignore it: The overwhelming majority of our coverage has nothing to do with this. Read above and you’ll see. But when people freak out over the most innocuous tweets, I felt it worth explaining here on the blog.

>> On to more pleasant topics — meaning anything other than hypersensitive baseball fans — this morning promises to shape the Penguins’ future in all kinds of ways: Our Rob Rossi spent the day with the phone attached to his head and found out Ray Shero hunkered down with Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle about Dan Bylsma’s future.

Shero, of course, meets with the media today at 11 a.m. I’ll be there.

Here’s my opening on the TribLIVE Radio show podcast yesterday about what Shero should do …

>> The continuing love story that is the new, improved Ben Roethlisberger/Todd Haley playbook took on another heart-fluttering chapter on the South Side. I was over there for the Ben portion of the interview, and he was positively glowing.

Oh, and I’ve got a story from over there I think Steelers fans might appreciate. Later this week.

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Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

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