Tips to Market the St. Louis Cardinals this Season, Part 1

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Hey there, Cardinals. In watching the games this year, as well as recently attending one, I can't help but notice that attendance, while still quite strong, isn't up to the standards we've seen the last couple of seasons. Of course, it's understandable; the new ballpark novelty has worn off, we aren't watching a title defense this season, several fan favorites left this past off-season, etc.

Even with all of those things going against this team, I wanted to do my part to help you owners put butts back in the seats. So I came up with a few suggestions. In no particular order, here they are:

1. The middle infield the Cards are running out this year is, to put it lightly, less than impressive. People don't buy tickets to watch Cesar Izturis fight to reach the Mendoza line and Adam Kennedy fight against the AARP recruiter in the bleachers. Face it, Cardinals, this isn't a strong point of the team. Knowing that, though, I think we can turn a negative into a positive. We live in a reality television culture; people prefer to see amateurs make asses of themselves in public rather than professionals.

Each home game, choose two random individuals from the crowd to play shortstop and second base for the night. Give 'em gloves, give 'em uniforms, and send 'em out there. I don't care if they aren't in great shape, or they're too old, or they're severely handicapped. That's the fun of the thing! We'll all feel better watching them suffer humiliation for our entertainment. And you know what, once they finish, I'll bet they feel better too. It's a win-win situation.

Try to see if you can create interesting pairings, too. This probably will require some manipulation of the selection process on your part, but that's the beauty of reality programming. It's the least realistic scenarios imaginable, and we still eat it up! Try pairing up Klan members and minorities. Always controversial. Find a man who's having an affair with a woman, and put him at short. Then, for a second baseman, find her husband! Now that's a double play combination I'll pay to see!

Just keep in mind whatever Maury Povich or Springer would do, and you'll be fine. I'm telling you, it'll work.

2. You guys had pretty good success selling off urinals and other things from the old ballpark; apply the lessons learned there. Auction off a toilet at every home game. People love memorabilia, and you've got a perfectly good supply. Why not take advantage of it?

3. The giveaways at the ballpark are pretty lame. I'm sorry, but nobody really needs another Bud Light hat. Seriously. You need to consider your marketplace, and come up with better products. Look for interesting products on which the average Missourian resident spends his or her money. For instance, a large portion of your constituency loves guns, and yet, how often do we see a weapon-themed night at the ballpark? How about, instead of yet another ''autograph ball giveaway,'' we have ''commemorative shotgun shell night,'' with each shell bearing the embossed signature of Charlton Heston? He's on everyone's mind right now; strike while the iron's hot! I hear Crystal Meth is popular, too. Maybe you can work up something sponsored by the good people at Sudafed?

4. Your advertising is waayyy too general. Those ''Play Like a Cardinal'' ads (view here) are great, but it really doesn't speak to anyone specifically. You need to do more niche marketing.

Seniors seem to like baseball, but I don't know if you're really getting the message to them as well as you could. Consider hiring the cast of ''Touched By an Angel'' to do television spots. Older people still love those guys, and I hear they're available! Failing that, consider holding drawings for various medical services at the games. Considering the state of medial care in the country currently, I'm sure it would go over pretty well.

You've done a pretty nice job marketing the game to the female segment of the population, but you can always do better. You want to bring in the ladies? For starters, make sure you keep Jason LaRue on the field at all times, and consider getting him a leather jacket and a motorcycle to wear and ride, respectively, onto the field. Make sure the women know that he has a sensitive side, though, too. With the proper image management, you can ensure that every woman in the city will want to be the woman that turns Jason LaRue, certified Bad Boy, into the sensitive, baseball-playing poet we're all sure is just under that rough exterior.

-Aaron Schafer

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