On the field, the AirHogs look pretty good so far this season. They spent the weekend sweeping the defending champion Shreveport-Bossier Captains, and they are leading their division. So, for those of us worried about teams in the same division with the same owners, maybe it’s not that big an issue, but it’s still early in the season. It’s weird seeing the managers meet at the beginning of the game and realize they work for the same people. It’s a department meeting with the umpires.
From a personnel perspective, as one of the coaches said last night, “We have pitching.” (For some reason, everyone knows that pitching is critical to the game, and yet many teams still have mediocre pitching.)
Winning against Shreveport was a good start to the season (this was the second home stand) although having “Cajun Weekend” while they were here was a bit much for some of us. Our new manager (Ricky VanAsselberg) is their old manager, and he’s from Louisiana, but celebrating the opposing team (even if a coincidence) is just not cool. There are some of us who still remember the stolen base late in a game last year by one of our former players while we were getting blown out, which was a horseshit move. Pete Incaviglia was yelling at Ricky about respecting the game (that move does violate “the unwritten rules”), and now Ricky is our manager, so some of us are still trying to wrap our heads around the whole issue.
Off the field, the AirHogs are still deer in headlights, although it seems to be improving. It’s interesting to see that the new ownership apparently didn’t read any of the agreements made with the season ticket-holders by the old ownership. There are any number of promises made that either were ignored or are just now getting implemented. While I applaud them for trying to make things right, it would have been preferable to just do what the contracts said in the first place.
To me, it’s a bit like the old Van Halen “brown M&Ms” story – if you don’t know your season ticket-holders were promised free drink refills (and have no easy way to provide them), what truly critical part of the team financing or operation did you miss?
I have a feeling the old ownership managed to put quite a bit over on the new owners, and most of that was because the sale process dragged on so long. There were rumors of a sale last year, but the sale went through only a couple of weeks before the season started. In the meantime, the owners bought Pensacola and moved them to Amarillo.
I would love to see a business student do a paper on the team and its history, because they constantly seem to be skating on the edge, and I’m not sure I understand why. (It would make an interesting book, but I think you would find it difficult to get information from the insiders.) If you’re not making enough money, you’re either priced too low or you’re not bringing in enough people (marketing dollars misspent or underspent.) The corporate America solution would be to cut costs – say, pay the players less – but I don’t think that’s possible. So, the challenge should be to get butts in seats. The current solution seems to be discounted tickets (which tends to piss off those of us who paid full price in advance) and the new $40 all-you-can-eat seats in one of the suites. I’m hoping we don’t end up like the Stars and the Cowboys and the Mavericks, where the vastly over-priced seats for people who don’t pay attention to the game finance the team and the cheap seats are empty because eventually they get over-priced as well.
There is certainly competition – there are any number of baseball teams in the Metroplex, so it is a crowded market. However, the AirHogs are in an area that serves a good portion of Dallas and the MidCities – people who are probably unlikely to drive north to Frisco for affiliated ball, don’t want to drive to Ft Worth to see the Cats (same division as the AirHogs) and they’re priced below the Rangers for people who don’t want to pay big-league prices.
So, I’m hoping the new owners get their act together. The field management seems to have done a good job building the team, so now it’s time for the front office to catch up.