Major League Baseball has spent a lot of time wondering about how to court and keep young fans and how to get more families to the ballpark. While I’m sure they have retained all manner of marketing and demographic experts to look into all of that, the most obvious problem is that baseball tickets have become monstrously expensive over the years, even after adjusting for inflation. If you can’t watch games for free at home — sorry, that requires a cable plan with the sports tier! — and if you can’t bring the kids to a few games a year without breaking the bank, there really is no easy way in for the little ones.
Today the Orioles announced a plan that will help address that: the “Kids Cheer Free Initiative,” which gives each adult who purchases an upper deck seat two free tickets for kids nine and under. Tickets under the plan, through April 29 and excluding Opening Day, can be purchased here. As the season goes on, free kids tickets will be available for each months’ upcoming games on a rolling basis.
In conjunction with this, the Orioles are expanding their family-friendly programs, including their Kids Corner, that has jungle gyms, bounce houses and the like, as well as dates for fireworks and kids-run-the-bases promotions.
Ballparks have become a decidedly business class experience over the past couple of decades. The construction of Camden Yards, ironically, helped usher in this business class age. As such, this is a good move by the Orioles. If a kid has fun at a ballgame when he or she is little, he or she is way more likely to be a fan for life. By letting kids into the place for free, there will be a lot more kids having fun at ballgames.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.