Pirates owner facing advertiser boycott in wake of Andrew McCutchen trade

Big League Stew
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/pit/" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh Pirates">Pittsburgh Pirates</a> owner Bob Nutting is losing support quickly. (AP)
Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bob Nutting is losing support quickly. (AP)

Pirates owner Bob Nutting has never been the most popular guy around Pittsburgh, or Major League Baseball for that matter. In fact, it’s quite possible he’s the least popular owner in the entire league, with the only possible exception in recent years being now former Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.

In a sign of just how far the discontent with Nutting extends locally, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette is reporting that one company has at least temporarily decided to pull advertising from three publications owned by Ogden Newspapers. That’s a direct shot at Nutting, who serves as Ogden’s CEO.

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The company in question, Weirton Medical Center, is actually based in West Virginia. But according to a news release, it’s standing up for the entire community that supports the Pirates due in part to the team’s “failure to craft a deal to keep Andrew McCutchen a Pirate.”

Here’s more from Gazette report:

“We are doing this not to hurt our friends and colleagues working at these newspapers, but to send a message to the Nutting family that we believe in community,” the company said in a news release. “We hope this gesture reminds you of the importance of community. Legions of Pirates fans may not own the ball club, but we certainly feel a sense of ownership too.”

WMC spokesman Kelli McCoy said in an email the boycott will apply to the Weirton Daily Times in West Virginia as well as the (Steubenville) Herald-Star and East Liverpool Review in eastern Ohio.

McCoy said those newspapers traditionally publish full-page ads from WMC on Sundays, plus extra advertising to promote doctors’ offices and service lines during the week. The news release said that business makes WMC one of the largest, if not the largest, advertisers for Ogden Newspapers in the region.

Again, the boycott will apparently be temporary. Regardless, it’s a strong message from one of the few entities in a position to dent Nutting’s business.

The Pirates owner has yet to offer a response on this matter. All of his talking this offseason has come through his actions, which have resulted in the Pirates trading two franchise cornerstones.

On Jan. 13, ace pitcher Gerrit Cole was traded to the World Series champion Houston Astros for four players. Two days later, former MVP Andrew McCutchen was traded to the San Francisco Giants for two minor leaguers.

The Cole trade added to fears that Nutting’s group wasn’t going to invest in a potential winning team in 2018. When McCutchen followed, the message was loud and clear. Since then though, it’s been the fans sending their own message of disdain. There’s even a petition out there aiming to force Nutting out as owner.

MLB has since thrown its support behind Nutting and new Marlins owner Derek Jeter, who is also overseeing massive payroll cuts. He’s not going anywhere, but he’s already finding out that Pirates fans and even advertisers aren’t going to back down either. This will set up a most interesting summer in Pittsburgh, where the toughest challenge the Pirates will face is winning back their fans.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Yahoo Sports Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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