So let me get this out of the way. If you love baseball, and I mean really love it, there is no excuse for you not to have a subscription to Baseball Prospectus. It's only $40 a year and it's worth every penny.
The good folks over at Baseball Prospectus have finally taken notice of the Nationals' attendance woes. They are very real. In fact, they are almost unprecedented.
Opening Night against the Braves produced a sellout--although the listed attendance of 39,389 was less than the official 41,000 capacity of the new stadium--and the fans were treated to a walk-off home run from Ryan Zimmerman. Upon returning home after a road trip, however, the Nationals averaged just 26,351 fans over their first homestand, a six-game affair. That included a 20,487 night in the second game at Nationals Park, which represented the second-largest drop-off from game one attendance in a new park to game two in the 21 stadiums that opened in the past 20 years:
Year Team New Park Game 1 Game 2 Diff.
1997 Braves Turner Field 45,044 45,698 + 644
1993 Marlins Joe Robbie Stadium 42,334 42,689 + 355
2004 Padres Petco Park 41,400 41,625 + 225
2000 Giants PacBell Park 40,930 40,390 - 540
1994 Rangers Ballpark at Arlington 46,056 45,455 - 601
2006 Cardinals Busch Stadium 41,936 40,648 - 1,288
1999 Mariners Safeco Field 44,607 43,252 - 1,355
2001 Brewers Miller Park 42,024 40,651 - 1,373
1992 Orioles Camden Yards 44,568 42,870 - 1,698
2001 Pirates PNC Park 36,954 35,045 - 1,909
2000 Astros Enron Field 41,583 39,018 - 2,565
1989 Blue Jays Skydome 48,378 45,520 - 2,858
1998 Diamondbacks Bank One Ballpark 47,484 43,758 - 3,726
2004 Phillies Citizens Bank Park 41,626 37,512 - 4,114
1992 White Sox Comiskey Field 42,191 36,420 - 5,771
1994 Indians Jacobs Field 41,459 34,087 - 7,372
1995 Rockies Coors Field 47,228 38,087 - 9,141
1993 Rockies Mile High Stadium 80,227 65,261 -14,966
1998 Devil Rays Tropicana Field 45,369 30,109 -15,260
2008 Nationals Nationals Park 39,389 20,487 -18,902
2003 Reds Great American Ballpark 42,343 22,878 -19,465
The Nationals have something of an excuse, given that Major League Baseball scheduled their home opener as an isolated game to start the season. The Nationals immediately traveled to Philadelphia afterwards, and so did not have the continuity of an opening series to aid attendance--something the Reds cannot similarly cite to save face. That doesn't excuse Washington, of course, especially considering that concerns attendance [sic] formed part of the reason for the failure of the city's first and second iterations of the Senators. If the fans can't come out tonight to watch their squad take on the division favorite and the best pitcher in baseball, then something is indeed amiss in our nation's capital.Right there with you, Mr. Baseball Writer (Caleb Peiffer). Something is very much amiss. Temperature, pricing, and the Nats being so shitty are all valid excuses. But none of it excuses the city for not being able to support a baseball team. Why can't Nats boosters accept that this area, despite the large population,
Don't believe me? Try watching a Nats home game on television. The seats behind home plate - the best seats in the house - are consistently empty. Even the guys shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars can't be bothered.
So what's the over-under on today's attendance? My guess is 26,000 or so. Most of them will be Mets fans.
(Since I'm presumptuously dancing on the grave of DC baseball, let me remind you that I'm doing my part. I'm going to games and I'm rooting for the Nationals as loudly as I can. I want baseball here. I'm just not blind. It isn't working and the city is going to be left with the tab and the shame of being a minor league town.)
UPDATE: God damn it, Blogger. I know the table is coming up all squiggly. I have no idea how to fix it.