Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More of the Same, Expos and River Cats

Last night's game was a stinker on the field and at the gate. An "announced" crowd of 11,688 that seemed a good 2-3 thousand less than that. This prompted the Angels beat writer Mike DiGiovanna to tweet, "Attendance in Oakland Coliseum for #Angels-#A's: 11,688. Begs the question, What if they threw a pennant race, and no one came?"

Houston Chronicle Astros writer Zacahry Levine pointed out today that the A's were hardly the only contender to draw lightly last night.  Levine added some perspective on the scant 12,785 who showed up at PNC Park in Pittsburgh last night to see the Pirates play the 'stros:

....The Nationals, who own the best record in baseball, drew 17,648. The Reds, who are second, drew 17,806. 

The Braves, who lead the NL wild-card race, drew 16,686. 

Then compare those numbers to the Phillies, who have not drawn fewer than 41,227 this year and are nowhere near any races. But they won a title four years ago. 

Baseball’s attendance operates as a lagging indicator to performance, and that’s where the Astros have to be concerned.

Fans don’t come back in the year that a team gets good, as we see in especially Washington and Cincinnati. They come back later as a result of past performance. 

So as the Astros try to put a timeline on the finish line or even the minor milestones of their rebuilding process, the increased gate revenue probably isn’t going to come then....

As seemingly no new stadium/a relocation is forthcoming in the next three years and the bulk of this team is under control, there should be an opportunity to see if the old can draw larger crowds next year and beyond should the team continue to contend.

Les Expos!

Several recent articles (here and here) touched upon a small, but hopeful group of Canadians trying to stir interest in MLB returning to Montreal.

Here is former Expo Walter Cromartie, who runs the Montreal Baseball Project and is helping drive efforts to get a team back in Quebec, in the August 31st article on SportsNet:

"When we lost Gary Carter this year, I think the city really woke up, realized how much of an impact he made on the city," said Cromartie. "That had a big impact on Montreal and its sense of being left out and having baseball here since 1969, and before that Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente played here. It brought back a lot of memories."

If baseball was to leave Oakland, or worse if the A's were to relocate out of the Bay Area down the road, it pains one to think of what a similar quote might be when someone like Rickey Henderson passed.

Further in the piece, Jonah Keri -- of ESPN, Grantland and who is writing a history of the Expos -- offered this:

The biggest obstacle is just Major League Baseball. The whole situation was so poisonous (in 2004). It was a given that the team was going to move and it was such a headache for Major League Baseball that even if you tell them, it's 10 or 20 years down the road and Bud Selig isn't commissioner, even if the circumstances change, to the outside observer, I think that legacy is going to remain there. That sour taste, if anything, is what I think would prevent Major League Baseball from going there.

This "sour taste" is why the cities of Oakland and San Jose might want to tread lightly in terms of any possible litigation down the road against the league.

Cats Playoff Baseball!

If you are pining for some baseball after today's day game, consider checking out the River Cats whose first playoff game is tonight. The pitching match-up against the Reno Aces is Bruce Billings (7-6, 3.98 ERA) vs. Trevor Bauer (5-1, 2.85 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. from Raley Field in Sacramento. Bauer, who was briefly up with the Diamondbacks, is an interesting guy.

Meanwhile, these playoffs are a swan song for Wes Timmons who has toiled in the minors for 1,047 games and counting with zero MLB appearances. He intends to retire after this season ends.

Dot Racing

Having forgotten to bring a radio, I was more acutely aware of the in-stadium festivities between innings. I clearly missed something as the venerable "Dot Race" now -- finally -- features A's colors of green, gold and white. According to DiamondVision, the lifetime record is white -- 1,023; gold -- 3; and green --2.An odd stat to display during an inning -- especially in light of the small amount of available real estate for stats.

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