(Image: Matt Slocum/AP)
On Sunday, many Brewers fans checked their inboxes and found the 2013 edition of principal owner Mark Attanasio’s annual season-ending open letter. If you’ve read one, you’ve pretty much read them all. They reliably include the following elements:
- - Thanks to the fans, all [insert attendance figure] of you
- - Bummer about not making the playoffs
- - Still, we had some bright spots, and here are some stats to exemplify that
- - Let’s recognize these individual players who performed well
- - Also, the Brewers Community Foundation raised a bunch of money
- - You bet we have high hopes for next year
Like most Brewers fans, I have a lot of warm feelings about Attanasio, and the team has obviously come a long way during his ownership tenure. That being said, I would observe these open letters are a little colorless and pro-forma. Here is the second paragraph of the 2013 letter:
“The 2013 season was a challenge for all of us, both on and off the field. As I stated when my ownership group purchased the Brewers in 2005, one of our primary objectives was to raise expectations for the entire club. In recent years, the team has played meaningful games late in the season, but this year we obviously fell short of that goal.”
Here is more or less the same paragraph from Attanasio’s 2009 season-ending open letter:
“When my group purchased the Brewers in 2005, one of my primary goals was to raise all expectations for the team. Coming off last season's playoff appearance, I expected us to play very meaningful games again through September and compete for another postseason berth. I share your disappointment that we fell short of our goal.”
We can all appreciate that templates and stock phrases are time-savers, but such techniques limit the impact a message can have. Attanasio is a very successful businessman, and this kind of communication is commonplace in the corporate world. I wouldn’t argue Attanasio owes us anything more, but the blandness of these open letters does make me think there must be a way to bring them alive.
What if Attanasio shared a brief story about how he felt when he heard Ryan Braun had accepted a season-ending suspension? There are ways to discuss something like that without hurting Braun personally. If that subject matter is too provocative, maybe it would be interesting to hear about Attanasio’s feelings as the injuries kept piling up this year. There must be an interesting tidbit he can share about a conversation with Doug Melvin where they assessed their unenviable options.
Who pitched the idea of giving away all that free food in August? How did the idea of making Brewers On Deck free this year come about? A recollection or two about either of those promotions could give fans a sense of the behind-the-scenes workings without spilling any sensitive details.
Uecker must have told Attanasio a joke at some point this year. Clean it up and share it with the fans. Something.
There’s nothing wrong with Attanasio’s season-ending letters per se. It just seems like there’s a low-risk opportunity here for a respected business owner to put a different spin on the typical “we value our customers” message. A personal anecdote or two might spice it up a little.