Social media in 2019 is a powerful tool.
It can be a lot of fun, it can sometimes be mean, and it can be somewhere in between. It’s also a place for a lot of information, which is great. But, if you are putting out information and something seems a bit off or fishy, then somebody likely will be there to call it out.
That seems especially true on Twitter.
For those who don’t follow minor league baseball teams, there are a lot of teams who embrace social media (especially Twitter) and really have a lot of fun with it. And, at the same time, if they post something not fully right, they will usually man up and take the blame and try and have fun with it.
Not so, recently, in the case of the Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
Now, before I get into the whole situation, let me be clear on one thing – I have no issue in what they did in regard to gates and such. It is their right, and they had reasons. But, the fact that they gave false information, then basically doubled-down on it before giving away their true reason (without admitting the first was false) is where this goes wrong.
Look, I understand what Minor League Baseball is all about. And I love it. But I don’t like when teams swerve fans, especially when there are facts to back up the fan side of things.
Trenton is one team that usually has a pretty good grasp on things. I even blogged about it in 2016 (https://hoohaa.com/?p=10103). This time, not so much.
With that in mind, here’s the story.
It started with a simple Tweet on July 22 – talking about the game that night being postponed. The kicker is that it was a scheduled bobblehead day. For those not into minor league baseball – bobblehead nights are usually massive draws and most of the time only with a limited amount to give away (usually anywhere from 500-2,000). When some stadiums seat upward of 8,000-10,000 people, it’s often necessary to get in line an hour or two early to have a chance.
So, Trenton postponed this game. And then posted these two tweets:
Tonight’s game with @AkronRubberDuck has been postponed due to inclement weather.— Trenton Thunder (@TrentonThunder) July 22, 2019
We will make up the game with a pair of 7-inning games on Tuesday, July 23 at 5:30pm.
Gates will open at the regularly scheduled times for Tuesday, 5:30pm for Early Entry and 6:00pm for all fans.
Tonight’s game has been postponed.— Trenton Thunder (@TrentonThunder) July 22, 2019
We will make up the game with a pair of 7-inning games on Tuesday, July 23 at 5:30pm.
Gates will open at the regularly scheduled times for Tuesday, 5:30pm for Early Entry and 6:00pm for all fans. pic.twitter.com/ldh24TanvO
Harmless, right? People seemed OK with it, but something stood out.
The gates for season-ticket holders would open at 5:30 p.m. – the same time as the first pitch was scheduled. And if you weren’t a season-ticket holder, then you were stuck waiting for the gates to open at 6 p.m. – 30 minutes after first pitch.
People picked up on this. Check out some of the responses, as well as the replies from the team (these are from each of the original tweets, not just one of them):
Gates open for all fans at 6pm. Due to Eastern League rules we are opening at normal times tomorrow.— Trenton Thunder (@TrentonThunder) July 22, 2019
1. Correct. Due to Eastern League rules we are opening at normal times tomorrow.— Trenton Thunder (@TrentonThunder) July 22, 2019
2. Our Bucky Dent autograph session is still happening tonight starting at 7pm for one hour
What is the rule that prohibits fans from being able to see the first half hour of the game lol— Jeremy Schooler (@jschool98) July 22, 2019
So gates will open for all fans 30 mins after game 1 starts?— Stacey (@scpast) July 22, 2019
I mean, really?
I’ve probably been to a dozen or more Eastern League doubleheaders – single-admission and starting earlier than “normal” and been allowed in at least 30 minutes before the first pitch. This got me really wondering. So I had to ask.
And while asking, I got a more truthful answer.
We’re also opening at our normal time to ensure that our bobblehead can be given out like normal to the first 1,500 fans ages 14+. Season ticket holders at 5:30pm and all fans at 6pm.— Trenton Thunder (@TrentonThunder) July 22, 2019
I responded to that with this, which didn’t receive a reply.
If that’s the case, that’s fine. But I’m more curious what Eastern League rule would prevent you from opening at 5 for a 5:30 p.m. double if, say, there wasn’t a bobble giveaway?— P.J. (@softball29) July 23, 2019
On the other thread, they were questioned, too:
Why cant you just open up early so that people can watch both games? Doubt you’ll have a lot that want to, so why inconvenience those that made sure they weren’t working mon-wed to come to the whole Akron series? Stuck it out last night & tonight’s gonna be no picnic either.— Cuse ? Jersey Collector (@CuseJerseys44) July 23, 2019
This received the “real” answer as well, along with a funny response from their opponents – Akron.
In searching other social media for this situation, Trenton held the line with the Eastern League rule, but when called out, the team again noted the bobblehead deal.
Those responding didn’t seem thrilled with this. And one idea came out that made sense (and I had wondered why they didn’t do this initially, either) — why not have a different entrance for those wanting to just get into the game and not worry about a bobblehead?
So, let me share some of the Facebook goodness, too.
You have to give the team credit for sticking to their stance — but the rule. This is what really got to me. They said it was a league rule, but haven’t shown anything about it. And, in the end, if you were doing this for the bobblehead (which, to be honest, makes no sense why not to open early… if people want the bobble, they’ll be there. Reality is… the night you were washed out was the bobble night — so all bets are off after that. I guarantee you’d still give away 1,500 bobbles), then say so from the beginning without throwing your league and some “rule” out there.
Especially when not everybody cares about the bobblehead. This, from the night of the doubleheader:
But, being the former newspaper person I am, I was really curious. Could this possibly be a true rule?
I think we all know the answer, but I needed to at least try and find out. So, I tweeted at the Eastern League.
@EasternLeague A question… Is there anything in your rules/bylaws in your league that prohibit a team from opening the gates at 5 pm for a 5:30 doubleheader? Rather, enforcing some 6 pm gate time?— P.J. (@softball29) July 23, 2019
Shockingly enough, I never received a response. I’m guessing it isn’t a rule.
And then …
I’d like to point out that I went to a Binghamton Rumble Ponies doubleheader on July 31. First pitch was scheduled for 5:35 p.m. Sound familiar?
It’s We Care Wednesday presented by M&T Bank in collaboration with Southern Tier MobilePack.— Binghamton Rumble Ponies (@RumblePoniesBB) July 31, 2019
Today is a doubleheader as we take on the Erie SeaWolves. Gates open at 5:00, first pitch at 5:35! pic.twitter.com/9iq0fuWyeN
Note when the gates open.
Apparently if it was an Eastern League rule… Binghamton didn’t get the memo. Or maybe it was just for a week or so. And why would I think that?
Well, on August 1, Trenton was again scheduled for a single-admission doubleheader. Note the start time. And note the gate time.
Fireworks and drink special night, but doesn’t appear to be a bobblehead night. Maybe that’s the rule they were referring to … or maybe …
Here’s the kicker to this doubleheader — in the opener, Trenton had a no-hitter. Only the sixth in franchise history — yet the second this season. In the minors, doubleheaders are seven-inning games. That no-hitter took 1 hour, 27 minutes to complete.
Let that sink in for a second — 1 hour, 27 minutes. The Trenton’s Brian Keller needed just 70 pitches for this dandy. IF, this had been a bobblehead day. And IF they had pulled the same bull about when the gates open. And IF you are were toward the back of the line because you got there a little later, there’s a chance you aren’t in the stadium and to your seat until about an hour into the game, give or take.
IF that had happened, the Trenton Thunder would have robbed fans of watching a dandy of a game, seeing history, and seeing something that not everybody gets to see on a regular basis in it entirety. And if you had stopped off to grab a hot dog or something, who knows how much you would have seen.
IF that had been me in that situation, I would have flipped. I love bobbleheads. And I have a lot of them. And I like giveaways like anybody else. But when I go to a baseball game, it’s for the game first — everything else second. Maybe Trenton will realize moving forward that many others think this way as well and not rob a possible amazing experience for a rescheduled giveaway item.