Friday, September 14, 2007

Not a lot of fish in the sea

So lonely...

Have you ever gone to a baseball game and tried to sneak into better seating than you purchased? If so, then Wednesday’s Nationals-Marlins game appears as if it wouldn’t have been much of a challenge.

According to published reports, there were around 400 people in the stands at Dolphins Stadium at the start of the game even though the paid attendance number floating around is 10,121.

Any team official worth their embroidered team shirt will tell you it’s the gate that counts, but this is simply embarrassing for the Marlins and the people of Miami. But they’ve pretty much shown they couldn’t care less about the pinstriped fish until they make the postseason.

In fact, the crowd was so sparse; a fan was ejected for heckling home plate umpire Paul Schreiber so loud his jeers were apparently heard on the telecast. The Washington Post (with such a delicious word play on its headline) describes the scene:

The man was so loud, and the atmosphere so quiet, the fan could be heard saying "you don't make more than me" on the television broadcast as he was forced to leave.

I haven’t overheard anything yet, but I’m just picking random spots before the fifth and listening for an at-bat or so. I do hear an echoing chant of “Let’s go, Marlins,” though. After continuing to watch and listen to the broadcast, I can hear distinct heckles, but not enough to hear exactly what’s being yelled.

Speaking of paychecks, Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo (1 for 6 with a 2-run homer) could have taken his game check and purchased an authentic Marlins cap for each fan through the gate at Dolphins Stadium. Olivo reportedly is making $2 million this year / 162 games = just over $30.

He might want to do that. I don’t think the Marlins can afford to lose any more fans.

Enough of that, though. Let’s look at the major money factor. Ten thousand paid seats sold and a crowd of about 400 can’t be profitable unless the concessions operator closed all but two beer stands and jacked up the price of a brew to about $450/cup.

Talk around the Miami area says people don’t want to sit during midday heat and humidity to watch a battle for the first amateur draft pick and that’s totally understandable. It’s just I just can’t imagine the profits of a team like this and sadly, I also can’t picture how an indoor stadium or one with a retractable roof will suddenly bring the gate attendance to the fifth digit.

The city of Miami does not deserve a team they can’t – or choose not to – support.

On the same evening, the San Antonio Missions (the Double-A affiliate for the San Diego Padres) drew around 3,200 for the second game of the Texas League’s championship series. Knowing the attendance numbers at that ballpark, it was probably a solid 2,800. Lately, the weather has been just as unbearable in SA as it reads in Miami – and granted the TLCS was a night game – but even this city that rarely supports any franchise not named the Spurs showed some support for the home team.

Well, enough support to make sure the concessions employees were paid.


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Joe is a guest contributor to laissez-faire ball.

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