Earlier this week, I tuned in to watch the Orioles/Pirates game in Pittsburgh. I know that neither of these teams is very good, but I think both of them have young centerfielders who could become stars of the game in Adam Jones and Andrew McCutchen. I enjoy watching both these young players and having both of them in the same game was the attraction. What I noticed was that PNC Park in Pittsburgh had lots of folks in attendance; they announced the crowd at 33,806 and I think that is an honest count. The Pirates are at .500 this morning and have been flirting with that level all season long; their fans seem to be responding to the team’’ up-tick in performance. Attendance over the first 36 home games is up almost 2000 fans per game this year compared to last year.
However, in going to check the attendance stats for the Pirates, I noticed several other teams where the change in attendance does not seem to square with the team’s performance on the field. Consider:
The Arizona Diamondbacks are leading the NL West as of this morning – - albeit by only half a game. Their average attendance in 2011 is down almost 2400 fans per game compared to 2010 over the first 39 home dates.
The Detroit Tigers are 1 game out of first place in the AL Central as of this morning. Their average attendance in 2011 is down almost 2300 fans per game compared to 2010 over the first 36 home dates.
The Seattle Mariners are 2 games behind in the AL West as of this morning. Their average attendance in 2011 is down almost 4200 fans per game compared to 2010 over the first 39 home dates.
The Tampa Bay Rays are 3.5 games out of first place in the AL East as of this morning. Their average attendance in 2011 is down just over 3400 fans per game compared to 2010 over the first 36 home dates.
[By the way, the Rays have the second lowest average home attendance in all of MLB so far this year beating out only the Marlins. The way that team has played for the past 3 years means that they deserve better fan support.]
On the other side of the coin, it is good to see that fans in Pittsburgh and a few other cities are showing support for on-field improvements. Consider:
Cleveland attendance us up more than 3500 fans per game in 38 home dates.
Oakland attendance is up more than 2100 fans per game in 35 home dates.
Cincy attendance is up more than 3600 fans per game in 41 home dates.
Yesterday, I mentioned a conversation with a friend about Ted Williams’ and Joe DiMaggio’s batting average over the course of DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. The regular reader of these rants from Houston who is joined at the hip – - so to speak – - with sports statistics sent along these corrections:
Williams hit .412 not .414 as I said.
DiMaggio hit .408 not .406 as I said.
Then the “Houston stat-maven” went further and extrapolated DiMaggio’s stats from that 56-game hitting streak to an entire 154-game season. Even under those circumstances, Williams’ batting stats would have surpassed DiMaggio except for batting average. DiMaggio would have had an OBP 90 points lower than Williams would and a slugging percentage 18 points lower. By the way, Ted Williams OBP plus Slugging percentage for 1941 was a more-than robust 1.288.
As I said yesterday, can you imagine what either or both of those guys would be worth on the free agent market in 2011?
I noticed in a recent set of “Transactions” in the agate type that two MLB “names fro the recent past” are back in the majors after stints with AAA teams. The Braves brought up Julio Lugo and the D-Backs elevated Willy Mo Pena. Not exactly Williams and DiMaggio …
The NBA and its players are a week away from the expiration of their CBA. Unlike the NFL situation where all of the teams are making money, there are teams in the NBA that are losing real money – - not losing money after some accounting legerdemain. I would have to see the audited books for all 30 teams to believe that the collective real losses are in the $300 – 400M range as stated by David Stern over the past year or so and I would need those same audited books to believe that 23 of the 30 teams either lost money or barely broke even in 2010. In any event, there is the very real potential for the NBA economic issues to exist to a sufficiently serious degree that it would cause all of a significant part of next season to disappear.
What seems now to be the biggest issue is that the owners want a hard salary cap and the players do not. The owners proposed a flexible cap recently that turns into a hard cap at some level above the flex cap. The players say this is a hard cap by a different name. In this case, both sides are right. The owners see that “hard cap” cannot work to get an agreement at this point, so they altered their position slightly. The players see this as a slightly different form of “hard cap” and do not want any part of it. It will be interesting come next December if there is still no agreement if this particular kind of solution becomes more palatable to the players and if the owners will put just a tad more “flexibility in it…
Finally, here is a note from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
“Parting thought: And in women’s tennis, the United States won the Hopman Cup, and not even Hopman cared.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…