If a baseball team plays in Cleveland and they are good, will anyone go to see them? No, this isn’t a “If a tree falls in the woods….” question; I’m talking about Cleveland Indians here, the American League leading Cleveland Indians.
At 20-8 (.714), the Cleveland Indians currently have the best record in Major League Baseball, yet they have the lowest attendance at 14,275 per game in the league! What gives, doesn’t anyone appreciate good baseball anymore? I haven’t even seen Drew Carey at a game? Can’t they do a promo to draw fans? They can put Charlie Sheen out on the mound and stone him with baseballs or something? They can call it “Stone the Wild Thing Day.” That would probably be good for a few thousand paid admissions wouldn’t it?
Sunday Cleveland won its 13th consecutive home game at Progressive Field, a 5-4 thrilling victory over the Detroit Tigers in their last at-bat, but there were only 14,164 fans there to see the game! There are some who will point to the April weather in Cleveland, and while it’s true that the majority of their home games have been below 50 degrees, that’s not the problem. April’s have traditionally been unkind in Cleveland from a weather stand point. Season-ticket sales are at their lowest to date since the Indians moved into their current stadium in 1994.
The unfortunate truth here seems to be a combination of the local economy not recovering and wide spread skepticism that the team’s fast start is for real. Coming into this week the Indians held down the number one spot in TheXLog.com MLB Power Rankings as they were a MLB best +47 in net runs on the year. Apparently, fans in Cleveland are hard to please. Ironically, the Kansas City Royals who have the second best record in the AL Central have the second lowest attendance at 16,985 per game.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, 20 of the sport’s 30 teams have drawn fewer fans and baseball attendance is 1.3% lower than at the same period last season. With their ownership problems, you might have expected the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers to have had attendance declines this year, and so far they have with declines of 15% and 14.5% respectively. But if I told you that the New York Yankees who have played more home games than anyone else have had a 7.6% decline, perhaps that’s enough to painting the picture that baseball is having problems and that it’s not just perception, but reality.
On Tuesday I discussed the fact that there were some stadium security concerns in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, and this will only add to the attendance problems around the league. The Indians are currently on the West coast for six games taking on the Oakland Athletics for three games and then the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (God I hate saying that, can’t we just go back to calling them the California Angeles!) for three more.
Tuesday night after an off day for travel, Orlando Cabrera hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the ninth inning in his lone at-bat and Fausto Carmona won for the third time in four starts as the Indians beat the Oakland A’s 4-1 for their seventh consecutive victory and their fourth in a row in their final at-bat. If that’s not exciting baseball, I don’t know what is.
If Cleveland continues their hot play on this road trip, it will be interesting to see if they get some fan support when they come home for a stretch where they play 12 of 16 games at home. C’mon Cleveland fans, show up at the stadium and be heard! You guys may live in “The Mistake by the Lake”, but you are making a bigger mistake and compounding the problem by not supporting your team.
Baseball fans in Cleveland have something pretty special going on right in their own back yard and don’t even know it…..