Wednesday, June 28, 2006

They built the team, but when will the fans come?

It does seem like people are having difficulty getting used to a contending baseball team. Their excitement is spotty. Yeah, the Tigers drew a sellout crowd Tuesday to see Roger Clemens pitch, but there were less than 25,000 at Comerica Park Monday night. Conversely there were sellouts - or near sellouts - Monday in Boston, Chicago (for the lowly Cubs), Anaheim, St. Louis and New York (for the Yankees). Also, the Twins drew almost as many people (nearly 23,000) for their interleague game with the Dodgers.
It seems as if people have gotten used to coming to games on the weekends when the fireworks shows are fired up, but don’t attend with the same fervor on weeknights. That's disappointing considering the product the Tigers are putting on the field. The Tigers have the best record in Major League Baseball. Yet, they rank 16th in average home attendance per game. This is a tremendous baseball town. We all know it, too. I just wonder when it will start showing at the turnstiles.

Miller impressive

I know Oregon State beat North Carolina in the College World Series, but it was difficult not to come away impressed with North Carolina left-hander Andrew Miller, the Tigers' No. 1 pick in the draft. Sometimes there is concern with a taller pitcher like that (he is 6-foot-6) that their pitching mechanics will fade in and out. It hasn’t mattered with Justin Verlander. And it doesn't appear that it will matter with Miller, who has a fluid motion. The bigger question is whether the Tigers will be able to sign him. My educated guess is they will be, but it will take awhile. This is a kid who is going to ask for the sun, the moon and the sky above. The Tigers will give him a lot, too, but only after cooling their jets for awhile. It’s not always a bad thing to sign a college pitcher late because they pitch so many innings in a relatively short season. Taking the summer off has as many benefits as drawbacks.

Random thoughts

- No, I'm not fed up with all the trade proposals fans have been shooting my way on my radio show on 1270 WXYT, The Sports Station. Some of them are off the wall. Some of them are, frankly, ridiculous. But at least fans are interested in baseball again this town. I find that to be a revelation.

- The best player in the major leagues you might not have heard of is Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla.

- Yeah, I'm looking forward to the Big Network. Then again, I have Directv. FOX, which is running the Big Ten Network, has ownership ties to Directv. That's why it is being put on there. Comcast is the primary rival for Directv, and FOX with its regional sports networks. I’m not sure Comcast is going to pick up a Directv/FOX product all that quickly. That's not real good for all the Comcast subscribers in Oakland County.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Frank B in the D said...

It's the ECONOMY, not the Tigers.

Most people just don't have the disposable income to go to many games... or more properly have too many other expenses to have much left. I make a decent professional income this time of year, and still am getting eaten alive with expenses. With utilities running about $300 per month and the cost of owning an economy car that's paid off and has minimal insurance at about $250 per month, I can't imagine someone making less than $30K per year being able to see a game at all these days, unless they go for cheap seats and don't buy any concessions or souveniers. We pick and choose.

**************

One thing I do want to point out is how fortunate the Tigers are to have the team they have. They have the team-builder's dream: young, motivated, up-and-coming players with relatively low salaries, and a few established pros with a great work ethic. They'd be INSANE to tinker with what they've got.

To risk the chemistry and spirit they have to try to get a "good lefty hitter" would be a bad risk. I say leave great enough alone, at least as far as those players who have been getting regular playing time as of late go. And the possibility of having 6 excellent starters when Maroth returns is almost beyond belief...

10:19 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

frank b,

I know the economy is tough right now in our area, but the red wings, pistons and lions have had little problem with attendance - and they all charge a lot more for tickets. Baseball is easily the best value among the four sports. You make good point about "leaving well enough alone." I pointed that out today in my column in the print edition of The Oakland Press.
caputo

11:33 AM 
Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

You seem to forget that the Pistons had the same problem when they started to get good. Even though they now have sellouts every game, they couldn't sellout cheap playoff tickets during their first two 50 win seasons. It takes a while for people to get into a team around here. I love the Tigers and they have been my favorite Detroit team since 2003, but I can't go out on a weekday and spend that kind of money on the game, and then have to put the kids to bed late and get up early the next morning for work. Just be happy that they are selling out on the weekends, because that shows that there is interest. The weekday games in a blue collar town like this will always be a hard sell. Most of us can't afford to put our jobs on the line like that (being late to work, being too tired to do the job properly, etc.).

-Marty

11:54 AM 

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