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Orioles to give kids under nine free admission to upper deck seats

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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.

Giants fire general manager Bobby Evans

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Earlier today, Craig wrote about a potential shake-up in the Giants’ front office. It didn’t take long for that to come to fruition. Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports that the Giants have fired GM Bobby Evans.

Evans had been with the Giants for 25 years, starting in 1994 as a minor league administrative assistant. He was promoted to director of minor league operations in 1998, became the director of player personnel in 2005, then was named vice president of baseball operations in 2009. For the last four years, Evans has been the Giants’ general manager.

In part due to Evans’ influence, the Giants were quite successful, winning the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014. However, the last two years have been the Giants’ worst in quite some time. The club went 64-98 (.395) last year and enters Monday’s action 72-84 (.462) despite some splashy additions in the offseason (Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria).

There will certainly be conversations as to whether or not it’s fair that Evans is the fall guy for the Giants’ recent lack of success. But that’s part of the deal when you’re a public-facing employee in the front office of a baseball team. Pavlovic says it seems unlikely Evans remains with the organization in a different role.

The Giants have reportedly been considering hiring a “high-profile baseball operations executive” to push the team in a new direction. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Ned Colletti is the favorite to become the new GM. The offseason is still more than a month away, so the Giants have some time to stew on their candidates and not make any rash decisions.