Major League Baseball is taking some major hits. Recent suspensions of notable players like A-Rod, who is appealing, and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers have tainted the game.
But it’s also having an impact on the teams. The Brewers know all about a bad season. This year, they’re near the bottom of the standings and fodder for late-night talk show hosts like Jay Leno.
“The Brewers are already 19 games out of first place, that’s with performance enhancing drugs. I mean how bad are they gonna be now?”
Instead of chalking the season up to being part of the game, the Brewers are hoping to keep fans interested by offering incentives.
On a warm Friday night at Miller Park, Brewers fans had a little something to be excited about besides the weather.
For the entire month of August, the Brewers will hand out $10 vouchers to anyone with a ticket to a Brewers home game.
Josh Motl thought he was rich thanks to the voucher, and said he enjoys coming no matter what kind of season the team is having, but he admitted he’d hoped for more.
“The outcome clearly isn’t what we wanted, but I’m not gonna turn my back and just stop coming to games,” Motl said. “I mean I love the team. “I’ve been coming for years and years. I remember my dad taking me to games at County Stadium. I’ve been a Brewers fan forever.”
But Motl’s not so sure about the team’s suspended star player Ryan Braun.
“I don’t know. I would like to hear what he has to say. I want to withhold judgment until I hear if he’s going to apologize,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a terrible situation and everybody looked at him like he was a great player, a great guy. I wish it wasn’t true.”
Motl said he plans as always to come to a lot more games and will save his $10 vouchers until he has enough for a Carlos Gomez jersey.
Braun is forfeiting $3.1 million since he’s suspended for the rest of the season.
The vouchers will cost the team around $3.6 million, according to Brewers COO Richard Schlesinger.
He said vouchers are the team’s way of saying thank you.
More than 2.5 million people are expected to attend a game this season.
“We have tremendous fans and the reality is we never want to take them for granted, and we want to show them how much their support is meaningful to us and how much we appreciate their loyalty through a very difficult season,” Schlesinger said.
Schlesinger said he understands that ultimately, the team is judged on wins and losses, but he hopes the vouchers show that the Brewers care about their fans.
Gale Hofmann, a former sports columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, said it’s all about good public relations for the Brewers.
“You gotta keep these people coming,” Hofmann said. ”You don’t have any kind of a radio, television deal approaching what the major ones are in the other teams, so you gotta make it through the gate and people have to keep coming through the gate.”
Hofmann does not believe the Brewers would be going to such lengths if not for the controversy caused by Braun who, Hofmann said, the Brewers still need on the field.
“You can’t move him. He’s got the huge contract, he’s got the baggage, they need him, his talents,” Hofmann said. “I see him staying in Milwaukee, and I see the fans, if he has a couple good years just trying to put it all behind them.”
In the meantime, goodies at the concession stands seem to be having their intended effect. Take these exhange.
“What do you plan on buying?” I asked a number of fans.
“This time nachos,” one said. “Next time we’ll see.”
“Cheese fries,” said another.
“Do they let me buy beer?” one asked.
“Couple Long Islands, please.”