If you look at Wikipedia, you might get the idea that August 8 is a day for failure or futility. Consider:
In 1588, the Spanish Armada ceased to be.
In 1974, Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency.
In 2005, Gene Mauch – who managed 3942 MLB games but never made it to the World Series – went to the great dugout in the sky.
With that sort of backdrop, allow me to present some examples of failure and futility to this point of the current baseball season. I will begin with the Miami Marlins who have played 112 games so far this year winning 43 of them. They are the only NL team whose winning percentage is below .400. The main reason they do not win is that they cannot score runs; in those 112 games, the Marlins have only scored 359 runs (3.2 runs per game).
If you project that total to a full season, the Marlins will score only 519 runs. Let me put that into perspective for you:
In the Marlins brief history, the team record for fewest runs scored in a season is 581 runs.
The 1962 NY Mets – the team that lost 120 games that year – scored 619 runs.
Baseball is a game that turns on scoring, pitching and defense; but it would take an extraordinary team to overcome an inability to score. As an example, consider the Washington Nationals – a team that proclaimed their focus to be on the World Series this year. As of this morning, the Nats are 6 games under .500 and sit an uncomfortable 15.5 games behind the Braves in the NL East. While they have scored far more runs than the Marlins, the Nats have this niggling problem; on nights when the bats are cold, the bats are very cold:
In 114 games this year, the Nats have scored 2 or fewer runs in 52 of those games.
In those 52 games, the Nats’ record is 5-47.
Before the season started, I wondered about the Marlins’ attendance for this year. Last year, they had a new stadium and had spent some money to acquire a competitive team. When the team tanked, they threw in the towel and went with a bargain-basement roster. Well through 58 home dates, the Marlins – in their one-year old stadium – are drawing 18,181 fans per game. That is a drop of 10,119 fans per game compared to last year and is by far the biggest drop in average attendance in MLB.
The Marlins draw the lowest average crowd in MLB; given their record, Miami’s general indifference to the team even in good times and the less-than-positive feelings folks there have for Marlins’ owner, Jeffrey Loria, that is not surprising. Here are attendance stats that are surprising – and shameful:
The team with the second lowest average attendance in MLB this year is the Tampa Bay Rays (18,476). The Rays are 2.5 games out of first place in the AL East and would be one of the wild card teams in the playoffs if the season ended today. The “fans” in Tampa/St. Pete reward that status by staying home in droves. It is another year of shame for those fans.
The team with the third lowest average attendance in MLB this year is the Cleveland Indians (19,243). The Indians are 6 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central and they are only 2 games behind the Rangers for the second wild card slot in the AL. The Indians have had some lean years in recent times, but Cleveland fans have supported the team when the Indians have been competitive – until this year.
I mentioned that the Miami fans have no great love for Marlins’ owner, Jeffrey Loria. Here is a comment by Greg Cote in the Miami Herald that will give you an idea of the atmosphere down there:
“The Marlins had a magician, Michael Grandinetti, performing during a recent game. Fans were disappointed, though, when he failed to make owner Jeffrey Loria disappear.”
It would not surprise me to see the race in the AL East boil down to a sprint to the finish between the Red Sox and the Rays in the final week of the season. Looking ahead to that possibility, here is how the schedule shakes out:
The Red Sox have their final 5 games on the road. They play 2 at Colorado and finish with a 3-game series at Baltimore.
The Rays have their final 6 games on the road. They play 3 at the Yankees and finish with a 3-game series at Toronto.
There was a piece of baseball-related news yesterday that was disgusting. CBSSports.com reported that vandals had painted racist slurs and swastikas on a statue of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese that stands outside the stadium in Brooklyn where the minor-league Cyclones play. I understand that the protection of “political speech” and “free expression” is critical to our social and legal structure. However, I still have the responsibility to say unequivocally that such “expression” is beyond disgusting and reaches all the way to odious.
Finally, here is one more comment regarding the Marlins and their ownership from Greg Cote:
“The Marlins recently wore 1956-era uniforms in a game. I found that appropriate, because the team usually has 1956-era player payrolls.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………