The Pittsburgh Pirates are Like Bialystock and Bloom in the Producers – They Win by Losing

August 23rd, 2010

The Pittsburgh Pirates, who have had 18 consecutive consecutive losing seasons actually manage to make a profit. How?

The Pirates made nearly $29.4 million in 2007 and 2008, according to team financial documents, years that were part of a streak of futility that has now reached 18 straight losing seasons. The team’s ownership also paid its partners $20.4 million in 2008.

The documents offer a rare peek inside a team that made money by getting slightly less than half its income (about $70 million) from MLB sources — including revenue sharing, network TV, major league merchandise sales and MLB’s website. The team also held down costs, keeping player salaries near the bottom of the National League, shedding pricier talent and hoping that untested prospects would blossom.

I’m reminded of the Mel Brooks classic movie, The Producers. Two crooked producers, Max Bialystock and Leo Boom set out to produce the biggest failure on Broadway, knowing that they would not have to repay investors, and they could keep any money they earn. So they put on a music called “Springtime for Hitler.” Unlike the Pittsburgh Pirates, “Springtime for Hitler” was a great success.

The Pittsburgh Pirates must have been received some inspiration here.