400 people in attendance? WTF?
Published on September 13, 2007 By Ziggystyles In Baseball
Just browsing the news and caught an article about Wednesdays Nationals/ Marlins game in Miami. Said there was only about 400 people in attendance but nothing was mentioned as to why.

It said it was an afternoon game so that would account for a smaller attendance, but 400 people? Jeesh. Thats sad.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/12/AR2007091201874.html

MIAMI, Sept. 12 -- After 4 hours 9 minutes of laboring in the tropical midday heat in a cavernous and virtually empty stadium Wednesday afternoon, the Washington Nationals got stuck with this: a 5-4 loss to the Florida Marlins in 12 innings that was sealed when a .226 reserve player chopped a single through the infield to drive home the winning run.

Florida left fielder Todd Linden, waived earlier this year by the San Francisco Giants, got his bat on a sinker from reliever Saul Rivera and punched it just to the right of second base as shortstop D'Angelo Jimenez and second baseman Ronnie Belliard tried, but failed, to get gloves on the ball.

Reggie Abercrombie, elected to pinch-run for Mike Jacobs after his leadoff double, scored from third to end a marathon that had been deadlocked since the sixth inning. The several dozen fans who speckled the plastic orange seating provided an odd backdrop, offering the same chorus of celebratory shouts and claps that would accompany a Little League game.

"To throw a good pitch like [Rivera] did, a sinker down and away, and for a guy to roll over it and find a hole after 4 1/2 hours," catcher Brian Schneider said, "is very disappointing."

The loss, Washington's second straight to the Marlins, left the visitor's clubhouse at Dolphin Stadium nearly as silent as the stadium had been much of the afternoon. There were perhaps 400 people in attendance. Players seemed both exasperated and exhausted by the fruitless performance that barely anyone was there to see.

"It looked, actually, like an extended spring game," Nationals Manager Manny Acta said about the crowd at the stadium, which seats 75,000 fans for football games. "It was so sad, but we still got to play the game. [Linden] just hit the ball perfectly -- the only place he could hit it in the infield and beat it out."

Though the Nationals secured the season series against the Marlins (10-8) with their one victory in three games here this week, they left still fighting to stay out of the basement of the National League East. They are just two games ahead of Florida in that race.

"They know, and we know, we're playing for something," Acta said. "We don't want to finish last and they don't want to finish last. It's no secret."

What began ignominiously with poor outings by both starting pitchers -- Washington's Joel Hanrahan and Florida's Byung Hyun Kim were charged with all but two of the game's runs -- evolved into a classic pitching duel between bullpens that, judging by the number of batting helmets and bats spiked to the turf, left hitters from both sides demoralized as the innings stretched on.

By game's end, 16 pitchers combined to strike out 33 batters. Twelve half-innings concluded with strikeouts.

Infuriated by his inning-ending strikeout in the second with the bases loaded, the Marlins' Jeremy Hermida tossed his bat so hard it busted into several pieces. Power hitter Miguel Cabrera flipped his bat into the air dramatically after striking out with one on in the eighth. Washington's Ryan Zimmerman put on a similar display after whiffing with two on in the sixth, and Ryan Langerhans tossed his equipment after fanning to end the 10th.

With a man in scoring position in the bottom of that inning, Dan Uggla struck out swinging, too.

"It was a long day," said Ryan Church, who hit a fifth-inning home run before being replaced in center field by Nook Logan. And "it was an odd day. . . . It was so frigging hot. It was miserable out there."

Temperatures reached the low 90s with high humidity. Though five Washington relievers combined to allow no runs and only two base runners from the seventh inning through the 11th, the Nationals never recovered from Hanrahan's early collapse. After escaping two bases-loaded jams early, he faltered. In the third inning, he allowed a leadoff single to Cabrera, then surrendered two-run home run with two outs to catcher Miguel Olivo.

In just 3 1/3 innings, Hanrahan gave up three runs, walked six and allowed six hits. Even worse, he threw 104 pitches, nearly a full game's worth.

"It was a very disappointing effort," he said. "I'm still working on things."

Kim, meantime, might have put forth one of the least effective 10-strikeout performances in baseball history. When he wasn't dominating the Nationals, he was putting them on base. He gave up seven hits and walked four in 5 2/3 innings, including back-to-back home runs in the fifth to Church and Wily Mo Pe?a.

That gave Washington a 4-3 lead that lasted until the bottom of the sixth, when Hermida homered off Jonathan Albaladejo to produce the tie that would stretch into extra innings.

"The end was disappointing," Schneider said. "To have that happen, it's hard."



Comments
on Sep 14, 2007
To see all those empty seats was not only sad but disgraceful.
on Sep 14, 2007

Just browsing the news and caught an article about Wednesdays Nationals/ Marlins game in Miami. Said there was only about 400 people in attendance but nothing was mentioned as to why.

It said it was an afternoon game so that would account for a smaller attendance, but 400 people? Jeesh. Thats sad.

There were only about 400 people dotted throughout the seating bowl area because baseball in Florida is a bust.

Spring time baseball gets fans that come down for the winter months to escape the cold weather back up North.  Once spring training is done, and it gets warmer in the Northern areas, the fans go home leaving Florida residents to support the team, except, uh, there are not that many Florida residents that really want to support a team -- neither Miami (where the Marlins are based), nor Tampa where the Devil Rays are based.

If MLB wanted baseball in Florida so badly they should have worked with Disney to put a team in Orlando so that visitors to Disney could go see games while they are in Florida to visit Disney, MGM and Universal Studios.  If they had done that, then people that are fans of other teams could tentatively schedule their vacation time so that they could see their favorite team play whatever the Florida team was.

Baseball played D.C. against other areas, skipped them over when putting both teams in Florida, and also when they put teams in Arizona and in Denver.  Denver hasn't been too bad as a market, and I guess Arizona has been ok, though they've had financial problems from over-spending there too.

Sadly for baseball, they basically over-expanded when they added the last two teams.  In doing so, they reduced the number of potential markets to move into, and left themselves no *VIABLE* choices other than D.C. for where to put any other teams or move teams to.  So, while the best answer might be to move the Marlins to an area that would better support them, there really aren't any viable major markets left.  Vegas has problems with legalized gambling and too many other activities for visitors.  Portland would make a decent rival to Seattle, and maybe against some of the California teams, but thus far they've not looked like a serious contender for any team that might move.  Montreal gave up on baseball when it was clear that the Expos were leaving town, and oh, yeah, by the way, they just so happened to have the same poor (bad) ownership that the Marlins now have.

I hate to say it, but baseball (MLB) might be well advised to revive their plans for contracting and eliminating a few teams.  If so, then both Florida teams would be prime targets.  Neither is well supported at all, even when the Marlins were a world series team there just wasn't any real support there.  Now that the Marlins are basically a minor league team, they really don't have any support.  The D-rays have long since lost their fan base too, basically because they can't escape mediocrity and have no promise of improvement on the horizon.

MLB could perhaps consider more revenue sharing and higher luxury taxes and perhaps a payroll cap that would help better distribute players among teams, and keep revenue more equal, and the competition level between the teams more even.  Still, there's no guarantee that teams that would be more competitive would really get better attendance in Florida, so the better answer may yet be contraction and elimination of teams that just don't get enough support.  It would, at a bare minimum, make it clear to fans of other teams that if they don't support their home teams by attending games or at least watching the games on TV or listening on radio that their own favorite teams could be gone too.  Once that fear sets in, there'd be more effort to attend games you could be fairly sure.

on Sep 14, 2007
A few years ago the league was planning to contract by four teams. Guess which were on the chopping block?

Minnesota Twins
Florida Marlins
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Montreal Expos


Of those teams, not one of them were selling enough tickets to break even. The teams had a couple of years to justify their existences. The Twins were able to rally the Twin Cities around them, even ponying up for a new baseball-only stadium. The Expos, however, were sold to MLB in lieu of finding a new owner -- they were moved to Washington and became those Nationals who are still no draw to Pro Player Stadium. The Florida teams sued MLB to stay alive -- and this is what they get. 400 people showing up on a weekday game.
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