A’s Fans: The Team is Playing Well!

I went to the A’s game on Thursday, Sept. 17th, and although the announced attendance was 10,873, there were no more than five or six thousand people in the stands.  What’s going on here? 

 

Ticket holders are staying home:  The only explanation for the disparity between the paid attendance and the butts in the seats is that people are buying tickets but staying home in droves.  In this economy, I would think they wouldn’t buy the tickets in the first place.  A friend suggested that the season ticket holders may have given up on the team.  That also surprises me as season ticket holders are usually the most loyal fans, since they have to cough up large amounts of money before the season has even started.  All I know is that it is a shame that the team is being sent a message that the fans don’t care, especially when they are playing well.

 

The A’s Are Playing Great:  The A’s have won their last 6 games, and 11 of the last 13, most games against teams contending for their division.  So it got me thinking about the A’s team and player statistics, to see if that might explain why the A’s seem to be in such disfavor with the fans.

 


Raj Davis being congratulated.jpg 

Won-Loss Record:  As of the end of play yesterday (Sept. 19th), the A’s have won 70 and lost 78 games, for a winning percentage of .473, ranked last place in the AL West, and 18 games behind the Angels.  But with that won-loss record, if the A’s were in the AL East, they’d be in 3rd place ahead of both the Blue Jays and the Orioles, and if they were in the AL Central, they’d be in 4th place ahead of the Kansas City Royals.   We could talk about the relative strengths of the divisions, but you get my point.  It’s not good, but it’s not all that bad.

 

After the All Star Break:  The picture is much rosier for the 2nd half of the season.  The A’s have won 33 and lost 29, for a winning percentage of .532.  In fact, since May, the A’s have won 51 and lost 49, for a winning percentage of .510.  Folks, that’s playing over .500 ball!  If the A’s keep playing like they have over the last 2 weeks, they could even finish the season over .500, which everyone has said all year would be a great achievement, given the team’s youth and the team’s dismal first two months. 

 
Powel's Grandslam v. KC 9-2-09.jpg
But let’s look at the statistics more closely:

 

Runs Scored vs. Runs Allowed:  During the first half of the season, the A’s won 37 and lost 49 (.430).  They scored 361 runs (4.2 runs/game) but allowed 401 runs to score (5.3 r/g).  That tells you all you need to know about the first half of the season. 

 

During the second half of the season so far, the team has scored 320 runs (6.2 r/g), but have allowed 285 runs (5.5 r/g).  They young pitchers have learned how to avoid the big inning for the most part, some have added new pitches to their arsenal, and the walks are way down.  Brett Anderson has emerged as the Ace of the rotation, and Cahill and Gonzalez have been strong of late.   But the hitting and scoring has picked up considerably as shown by the runs scored stat for the 2nd half.

 

Team Stats of Note:  Notwithstanding the A’s fans’ apathy, the team is by no means at the bottom of the 14 teams in the AL in most categories.  If you want to talk about a bad team, I suffered through the A’s first year in Kansas City as a child when they won 63 and lost 91 games (154-game season back then).  One especially ugly game took place on April 23rd of that year in which the A’s lost to the White Sox by the score of 29-6.  They stank, yet the fans came out to the games.  But I digress.

 

Here are some bright spots from this season: 

Hitting:   The A’s typically rank 8th, 9th, or 10th in most hitting categories, meaning that 4-6 teams were worse than the A’s in most hitting categories.  The do rank high in at least 1 statistic:  5th in sacrifice flies!  The only hitting category they rank last in is in home runs–no big surprise there. 

  

Fielding:  In most categories the A’s rank in the middle of the pack.  They have had the fewest passed balls (chalk that up to Kurt Suzuki!) 
 
They rank 4th in put-outs, innings played on the field, and caught stealing percentage (Suzuki again).

 

Pitching:  The A’s pitching staff are the youngest in average age (25.8 years), 4th in team shutouts and 12th in wild pitches made.  They have the 5th lowest team ERA (4.28) ahead of the Yankees (6th) and the Angels (10th), and 5th in intentional walks, as well as 7th in strike outs, 8th in saves, 9th in runs allowed, and tied with Boston for the fewest home runs allowed.

 
Brett Anderson.jpg 

 

Player Stats of Note:  On Friday night when the League Leaders were up on the Diamond Vision Screen, I expected not to see any A’s player’s mentioned.  But I was wrong.  Here are some top-ten player achievements and some not so great records this year:

Walks:  5th – Jack Cust (88)

Strikeouts:  1st – Jack Cust (167)


 Stolen Bases
:  4th – Rajai Davis (40)

Caught Stealing:  4th – Rajai Davis (11)

At Bats/Strikeout:  7th – Kurt Suzuki (9.943)

Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position (both in the top 10):

                Adam Kennedy  – .349

                Rajai Davis – .337

 

So why don’t the fans come to the Coliseum?  We have an exciting team right now, so we can’t lay the blame on the players.  They are playing their hearts out and the games are fun to watch, especially lately.  Some possible culprits that I have mentioned before and some new ones are, in no particular order:

  1. The media paint a gloomy picture.  Remember, their unofficial motto is “If it bleeds, it leads!”  Translation:  bad news gets more ink than good news, which encourages the sports writer to look for the negatives.
  2. The Coliseum is old, low tech,  and not particularly fan friendly.  The A’s will be there for the foreseeable future, so fans, GET OVER IT!  It’s not that bad and the food and drink are plentiful and good, if expensive.  Lew Wolff, you could spend a little money on the Coliseum which would help the fan experience.  I have some ideas on that.  Email me at:  beebee723@comcast.net.
  3. The Manager hasn’t a clue.  I’ve discoursed on that subject before.  See my earlier blogs.
  4. The team has no marquee players.  Are the A’s fans so shallow that they have to have a star to get them out to a game?  If so, they aren’t true fans of the game of baseball.  Get excited about Kurt Suzuki, Mark Ellis, Raj Davis, Adam Kennedy, Ryan Sweeney, and the young pitchers. 
     
    Get off your butts and out to the Coliseum!  I’m doing my part.
  5. You freeze your butt off at night games.  So bundle up!  It’s an easy fix. 

It’s a shame that the stands are so empty at game time.  I am sure there are more reasons than I have listed.  Perhaps you’d like to share yours.  Go A’s!!!

 

P.S.  They won again today 11-4, sweeping the Indians!  Gotta love this team.

 

Next Article:  Being a Fan Can Be Dangerous.

5 comments

  1. juliasrants

    I wonder if the beginning of football season has an effect on the number of people who are at the games. The Red Sox just played the Orioles this weekend – and there were far more Red Sox fans in the stands then Oriole fans. It has got to be tough on the players.

    Julia
    http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

  2. opinion4athletics

    If I could afford to be a Season Ticket holder I definitely would, and I would go to the games instead of letting my seat get cold. But sadly the ticket prices are a bit high for me, and then add in the parking, Yikes! Luckily though I get my tickets through Costco. Great pricing, 4 tickets for $40.

    The stadium could use an upgrade, I say they should spend the money upgrading the one we have instead of trying to move to San Jose. If that happens, I’m not sure I would be able to make it to any of the games.

    Great Blog,
    opinion4athletics
    http://opinion4athletics.mlblogs.com/

  3. jeaniegpops@comcast.net

    I have no insights, Bee, but I enjoy your no-holds-barred speculation. And I agree, the As deserve bigger houses. Good entries, these last several. I thoroughly enjoyed.
    Hugo

  4. crzblue2

    Bee,
    Dodger fan here. Is ashamed the attendance is low but it always goes hand in hand with how the team is doing. If I was there, I would go to a lot of games. I am a season ticket holder and the only games I have missed were back in April when I had to take a business trip. I love the Dodgers and love baseball. When I went to Vegas, I would make it a point to go see a minor league game there and my days were tied to that schedule. What I am trying too say is that if you love baseball, you would go to any game.
    .
    I was reading all the Roberto Clemente candidates and I like what I read about Kurt Susuki and also Miguel Batista of Seattle.
    .
    Good luck to A’s and good luck with your book. It sounds interesting! I love discovering other blogs around the mlbsphere.
    Emma
    http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/
    .
    p.s. I remembered what else I was going say. I know two season ticket holders at Dodger Stadium (I sit in the Top Deck) that sit close to me that are having financial problems because they lost their jobs. Another one his work schedule has been shorten so for these people is hard for them to get to games even though they have season tickets. They can no longer afford to drive to the games.

  5. contractyear

    Thank you all for commenting and welcome to you newbies to the blog. And thanks for the kind words. I enjoy writing these articles and plan to continute throughout the winter, albeit on a somewhat less frequent schedule.

    Julia, yes I think football does have an effect. It seems to take effect earlier each year as the football preseason schedule starts earlier in the baseball season. I don’t think it’s fair to MLB but when baseball plays 162 games in its regular season and football plays something like 17 or so, it’s easy to see why such a popular sport wants a longer season for exposure. I don’t like it, but there it is.

    Opinion4Athletics, you will be happy to know that the A’s are reducing ticket prices (maybe only for season ticket holders, not sure about that) by 10% for 2010. I think that’s a step in the right direction. I also think that the A’s ought to offer unsold field level tickets for half-price 30 minutes before game time. Season ticket holders will still subscribe to guarantee their desired seats, but it would get more butts in the seats near the firld come game time.

    Also, did you know that if you buy any season ticket package (and they have some pretty inexpensive ones now) you can buy parking passes for half price? That helps. Also, stop at your local Subway sandwich shop and buy a $5 footlong. That is a good inexpensive way to eat well without paying close to that for a small hotdog inthe stadium. Then there is also the Double Play Wednesdays where hotdogs are $1. Just some thoughts to make buying season tickets more affordable.

    Welcome to the blog, Emma who bleeds Dodger Blue! I am primarily a baseball fan as well, with the A’s being my team of choice. When I travel I make a point of going to whatever baseball offering is available: MLB, minor leagues, independent ball, etc. I just LOVE baseball and have since the A’s moved from Philadelphia when I was a kid. I know, I am dating myself, but what can I do?!

    Kurt Suzuki is a fabulous player and person on and off the field. His charitable work on behalf of his fring John Wilhite who was the lone survivor of the Nick Adenhart auto accident is wonderful. He and his wife are very active in community activities. He doesn’t get the press he deserves because he plays for a small market team. I am thrilled he was nominated and I hope he wins.

    I feel for your season ticket friends who can’t afford to use their season tickets because they’ve lost their jobs. To bad there isn’t viable rapid transit to get to Dodger Stadium as there is to the Oakland Coliseum.

    By the way, my one and only trip to Chavez Ravine was in the 90’s when some LA friends bought 4 tickets right behind the visitor’s dugout for a game agains the Expo’s. Dennis (?) Martinez pitched a perfect game that day. All the people sitting around us were astounded because no one left in the 7th inning, and they all stood and applauded with each pitch he threw during the bottom of the ninth inning! What a day!

    To you all: Come back (or subscribe to the RSS feed at the right) and leave me comments. I love to receive them and it will help me with the publication of the book.

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