Your old barkeep got a little flayed Monday night when I made a point on Twitter that the crowd at Camden Yards was, well, crappy.
Mom always told me I should improve my vocabulary.
So let’s call the announced attendance of 15,532 at Camden Yards for a late August game between a club in first and another clinging to the second Wild Card spot “paltry.”
Mom would have liked that better.
Well, many of the Orioles fans on Twitter didn’t like it at all. I got called a lot of names, like a shill, a sportswriting troll, and Skip Bayless (that last one’s a fighting phrase).
I can take it. I understand where it’s coming from. Because many believe I’m sitting at my ivory keyboard in the press box looking down my nose at fans that supposedly cheer for the Orioles but don’t show up in person.
I’m sure it seems pretty easy to judge when you don’t actually have to pay hard-earned money to go to games. I’m usually sensitive of that fact (maybe I wasn’t Monday).
Anyway, lots of fans felt like I was picking on them. I wasn’t.
What I was trying to understand is just why people aren’t coming out to the ballpark this year. I received a bunch of answers, and my sense is it isn’t just one factor.
In fact, individually, most sound like excuses that can be shot down pretty easily.
Monday was the first day of school for many kids in the Baltimore area. True, but the Orioles’ attendance all year has been down. The Orioles are 20th in the majors, with an average attendance of 26,956 – only the Cleveland Indians and Miami Marlins are over .500 and have a lower average mark.
Some have said the Orioles’ erratic play this season is a major factor to the attendance drop, except this team had been in first place for 111 days and is still very much in the Wild Card hunt. Yes, they are flawed, but so is most every team in baseball.
I’ve been told that people are afraid to come downtown for safety reasons – but the riots occurred in April 2015 and the Orioles averaged 29,374 fans that year for a team that finished .500. (And it doesn’t seem to be a safety issue when the Ravens are playing a night game across the street).
There was a price hike this year – and the announcement of it came out late, certainly hampering season-ticket sales. And I understand economics is definitely an issue. I’m sure that plays a part. But tickets were as low as $15 on Monday. You can bring in your own food. Pro sports are expensive, but, comparatively, the Orioles have one of the best Fan Cost Index rates in MLB.
Maybe the one reason I buy the most is that every game is televised. You get so much from watching on TV from the comfort of your home that you don’t need to be at the stadium that much. Yes, that one makes sense to me.
The list of possibilities goes on and on. And, like I said, I’m sure there are a multitude of factors that have merged this year.
But the bottom line is I heard for years that people didn’t come to the park because the product was inferior. The Orioles have had the best record in the AL in the past four seasons, have made the playoffs twice and are pushing for a third postseason appearance in five years.
So I want to know why only 15,500 people showed up Monday – about 4,000 were Blue Jays fans – to see these two teams play. Enlighten me.
Tap-In-Question: What do you think is the main reason attendance is down in 2016?