I remember the year I began to hate the New York Yankees. It was 1998.
I was born and raised as a Cincinnati Reds fan. My earliest baseball-on-TV memory was the Reds losing Game 5 of the NLCS to the New York Mets in 1973. I was 6 years old at the time. Longtime Reds announcer Joe Nuxhall was from my hometown. He became the youngest player ever to appear in a MLB game when he pitched 2/3 of an inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at age 15. The Reds of my youth were known as the Big Red Machine, and everyone knew the players. Joe Nuxhall opened a batting cage facility in the park where I played baseball, and Pete Rose was there to put on a hitting demonstration as part of the grand opening. No word on what he charged for the appearance. I wore #13 throughout my baseball career as a tribute to Dave Concepcion, who should be in the Hall of Fame.
In 1990, my wife and I were at Game 2 of the NLCS when Paul O’Neill threw out Andy Van Slyke at 3rd base when he attempted to tag up on a fly ball to right field. That gem helped preserve a 2-1 Reds victory over the Pirates. My boss at the time, myself and some coworkers were outside Riverfront Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series when Eric Davis hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Dave Stewart to set the tone for a Reds sweep of the A’s.
In 1995, I cheered as Mark Lewis, who is from my hometown, hit a grand slam for the Reds in Game 3 to help them sweep the Dodgers in the NLDS. That joy was short-lived as the Reds were swept by the Braves in the NLCS. The Reds were somewhat competitive but finished 3rd in 1996 and 1997.
By the time that I hit age 30, I understood that baseball was becoming less and less of a game and more and more of a business. For the period from 1995 to 1997, the Yankees payroll exceeded the Reds payroll by an average of $11.2M per year. The Reds had an NLCS appearance during that timeframe, and the Yankees won a World Series. Not bad by the Reds, all things considered.
In 1998, the Yankees signed Roger Clemens. Their payroll for 1998 exceeded the Reds payroll by over $41M. There was no way that the small-market Reds could compete. The Reds finished 4th in their division that year while the Yankees won the first of three consecutive World Series championships. During that three-year period, the Yankees outspent the Reds by over $135M.
By the early 2000’s, I had accepted that the Reds would never be able to compete with a team that could spend like the Yankees. Watching the Yankees lose the World Series in 2001 and 2003 had a certain satisfaction. Astronomical payrolls would make you competitive each year, but not guarantee the ring. By 2004, I had adopted the Yankees biggest rival, the Red Sox, as “my” team. It was especially sweet to watch the Red Sox make history by eliminating the Yankees after trailing 3 games to 0 in the ALCS. If my hometown team couldn’t compete with the Yankees, at least someone could. The Reds had become an unofficial AAA-league team by then and that continues today.
Baseball has become a game of highly-paid mercenaries and constantly revolving rosters. In any given year, only a small handful of players return to any team. The rest are a mystery on Opening Day and often change teams even during the season. There is no way for a fan to know who is playing or anything about those players without a program. In the 52 years from 1952-2004, the Cincinnati Reds used four shortstops to start over 75% of their games. Since 2004, the Reds have had thirteen different starters at shortstop. There is no way to know whether a player that does well today will be there tomorrow, next week or next year. Any hope for consistency is gone and all personal connection to the team is lost.
Not only do rosters change, managers change as well. The Reds have had six different managers since the 2000 season. So do owners. The Reds have had three different majority owners since 1984. Business philosophies and goals change (see Florida Marlins). As a customer (fan), the employee you like best or think does the best work may not be there the next time you take a look at your team. How loyal can you be if you don’t know who will be working for your team next time you do business with (watch) them?
When you think about it, baseball teams these days are just like most businesses. Consistency, continuity and high levels of service keep fans coming back (see Minnesota Twins). Constant roster turnover, changes in management and abrupt about-faces on business philosophies create market confusion and alienate the average customer (fan).
Customers are saying “if I can’t count on you to be there, I don’t care about you any more”. If I don’t know who you are I’m not going to spend my money on an unknown. I’m just not going to take that risk or feel that I’ve wasted my hard-earned money. Fan behavior is beginning to be like customer behavior. Attendance figures for baseball prove this point to be true.
Customers (fans) want to work with a team that delivers consistently. They want to know that most of the workers (players) that are there today will be there tomorrow, next week and next year. They want to know that the company (team) has consistent leadership and a reasonable plan to serve customers. And that plan should be consistent from week to week and year to year, not impossible to follow.
EXAIR has the most consistent roster, management, ownership and business philosophy in the league, period. Most of these key persons and many other employees have been at EXAIR longer than many companies have been in business:
- Customer Service Manager – 12 years
- Application Engineering Manager – 10 years
- International Sales Manager – 13 years
- Marketing Manager – 22 years
- Production Manager – 16 years
- Purchasing Manager – 19 years
- President – 18 years
- CEO – 27 years (he founded the company in 1983)
Customers know they can count on our team to be here tomorrow. They know we make and sell excellent products that deliver the best value on the market. And they know that our business philosophy isn’t going to change suddenly. EXAIR wasn’t in a different business last year.
EXAIR is, quite frankly, what most sports franchises aspire to be…number one year in and year out.
How do you approach your purchasing decisions (yes, fandom is a purchasing decision) in your business and your personal life? We think that consistency and continuity lead to confidence and trust.
If you need us, EXAIR is here to help you. Our fans are vocal and loyal.
Sorry, our jerseys are not for sale.
Claims are easy. Proof is hard.