A Millionaire Wants to Give Me Money and I Am About to Cry About It

This morning I received an email as part of the Milwaukee Brewers mailing list. The headline read,

Braun steps up to the plate for fans in “Brewers Win, You Win!” promotion | Brewers Star to Fund Ticket Program for June 3 – 5 Series Versus Oakland Athletics

The pertinent part of the email, for your convenience:

The original promotion called for every Brewers victory between May 1 and May 30 to earn $1 off a Terrace Box ticket for the June 3 – 5 series vs. the Oakland Athletics. With just five victories this month, though, the Brewers outfielder has made a move to ensure that Brewers fans are rewarded despite the team’s struggles.

Regardless of how many wins the team records through the end of the month, fans will be able to purchase a limited number of Terrace Box (regularly $24) and Loge Bleacher ($23) seats for just $8 (matching Braun’s uniform number). Braun is subsidizing the savings through a financial contribution, which will cover up to 4,000 tickets for each of the three games against the A’s.

Let’s do the math. There are two ticket prices, roughly the same. If Ryan Braun picks up the tab for the entire difference in price — let’s say there’s 2000 each of the $24- and $23-tickets since the email doesn’t specify that particular breakdown — that’s $62,000 per game, and a total of $186,000 for the three game set with the A’s. This, of course, assumes that the Brewers organization isn’t covering some of that, and that those sections will sell out, which, I suppose, there’s actually a possibility of that: despite the third-worst record in all of Major League Baseball, the Brewers have the 13th best home attendance, averaging over 31,000 fans per game (a sell-out at Miller Park is 42,200), and are closing in on a million in total attendance with 29 home games played.

The Brewers could stand to put more butts in the seats, sure. And every team runs promotions of some sort. Maybe other players have done similar things in other cities. But seeing this email made me want to cry, for two different reasons:

First, it’s a reminder that my favorite team sucks right now. Boohoo, I know. Fans of any number of teams could whine about this, and while a few fan bases might have more claim to gloominess than Brewers fans, there aren’t many. (Pirates fans, maybe. I’ll listen on the Mariners or Royals.) It’s dark, and I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not sure there is an end to the tunnel. Despite what has the potential to be a potent offense, they haven’t even won enough games in May to make the “original promotion” worthwhile. This wanting-to-cry is based in selfish sadness, and a general fragility of spirit.

Yet there’s another type of wanting-to-cry here, too, and it’s even more foolish. Ryan Braun is making $8.5million this year, and he’s got $150million in guaranteed income through 2020. And, of course, that doesn’t include endorsement deals and other ventures. That is, he can probably afford to subsidize some tickets. But those other ventures, like this ticket deal, show a commitment to and investment in Milwaukee — a place that could easily be dismissed as flyover country by a Cali boy who colleged in Miami and affects considerable swagger — that is so rare that it’s almost confusing. Robin Yount played his entire career as a Brewer; Bob Uecker probably could have moved on to a bigger venue at some point, but chose to stick it out in his home town. Still, Braun’s enthusiasm for being a part of Milwaukee just feels different, even if it is appears gimmicky at times. Braun really likes Milwaukee, and wants to prove it.

I’m a small person, maybe, for hoovering up that sort of affirmation of my town’s worth. So be it.

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