Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was asked Wednesday about the crowds at Camden Yards this year. Attendance has been down all season – 20th in the majors – and had not picked up with the club in a pennant race.
The first two games in the key Boston Red Sox series this week drew less than 40,000 combined – and roughly 12,000 or so were Red Sox fans.
There have been a bunch of potential reasons for the dropoff, ranging from inclement weather to a late hike in ticket prices this offseason to a safety issue as part of a fallout from the Freddie Gray riots in April 2015. There’s also questions about the club’s marketing – such as the elimination of certain discount ticket nights – and the team’s uneven play, though the Orioles are still in the playoff hunt and already have won more games than last year.
Jones, the team leader and longest tenured player, hasn’t been particularly vocal on the issue. But addressed it on Wednesday.
Here’s what he said, in its entirety:
“I think when it comes to this stuff I’ve heard many different sides of it. It’s due to school starting, weather, which is understandable, danger, which I don’t really see. I understand but I don’t necessarily see that.
As a player, we go out there busting our tails. The fans’ impact at Camden Yards it’s unbelievable. I think they know that, I think they understand that and the players understand that. Obviously, this week, and this last homestand, the last 11 games are arguably the most important games of the season.
We’ve fought our tails off for the 145 games to put ourselves into a unique situation as of September. And that’s what you say you want to play, important September baseball. Part of September baseball, especially if you’re in the heat (of the race), is fans, That’s just what it is. Every place you go the fans are gonna be there.
When we’re in Detroit, they were there for them. When we go to Boston – Boston’s one of the most desirable places to be at anyway – they’re there. I know when we go on the road in Toronto, we know they’re gonna be there. They’ve been there since basically the trade deadline last year.
I’m not going to say I’m disappointed. I’d say it’s just a little … like eerie, a little bit. We grind and grind and grind. And I understand, there’s a lot of factors into it.
Take in ticket prices being higher, although you can bring in food and beverages. You take in the marketing, promotions, I’m sure they’re not the best. I get all that.
But I’m saying the city wanted a winner. The last five years we’ve gotten a winner. I don’t know if they’ve gotten complacent already on us winning. I wish they haven’t. I hope they haven’t. But because winning is fun every single year and being in this race is exciting every single year.
To the ones that come every night, that’s been coming every night, ‘Thank You, with open arms because you don’t have to.’ And we know what you have to go through to get here. Some people commute very far. Some people live downtown, some people live in other cities. But we appreciate the support that has came through. That’s really all I got to say about that.”
Editor’s note: In Jones’ statements, he was searching for a word to perfectly describe his feelings, and I initially wrote “sad” and “eerie.” He actually said “not sad,” as in that wasn’t the perfect word. And then he settled on eerie. I didn’t hear the “not.” We regret the error.
The exact quote was: “I’m not going to say I’m disappointed. I’d say that it’s just, it’s a little, what’s the right word to say? It’s a little, you know, not sad, just, just like, eerie, a little bit. We grind and grind and grind. And I understand, there’s a lot of factors into it.