Before I shower Marc Rzepcyznski with kisses and hugs, I want to make a quick point about attendance. The Rays attendance woes are well-documented and a pretty easy target for critics deeming the Tampa/St. Pete area unsuitable for future inhabitation.
Here in Toronto we hear similarly solemn paid figures, as many prepare to write-off the team as unworkable. Of course people should be coming out to the ballpark, it's a great time and beats a kick in the head any day.
I feel as though, lost in the hysteria today after the Rays poor gate showing last night, is news that the Texas Rangers signed a multi-billion dollar TV deal! The numbers vary between $1.5 and $3 billion, but you cannot look at that number and think the gate receipts are worth all the spilled ink.
The larger point is people consume their entertainment in many, many different ways in 2010 than they did in 1993. When clucking tongues gleefully quote nightly gate numbers, do they include MLB.tv subscriptions? Extra Innings packages? People that watch the Rays equivalent of "Jays in 30?" You simply can't expect all fans to express and/or experience their fandom in the same way they always have.
Take, for example, myself. As you might have read, I was at the ball game on Sunday with some of the nicest and funniest folks the internet has to offer. 5 "normal" friends joined me in section 211 and I had a blast joking with old friends and loudly talking over new ones.
A great time at the ballpark indeed. Not only did we nerd out big time, but I got to see little things I may have lost on TV at home such as Brian Roberts and Cesar Izturis faking out Travis Snider en route to a base running mistake. The sun was out and the beer (or reasonable facsimile) was cold. Sunday's game was my second of the year.
2 games, all season. I live approximately 1.25 hours from gate 5. I went once in the spring and once in the fall. Judge away. But guess what: if you think that makes me a lesser fan than anyone else, feel free to go fuck yourself.
When I inevitably hit publish 15 minutes too soon and spend that time revising dozens of spelling errors, this will be my 129th post of 2010. One of about 700 I've written in just under 3 years.
I have a a full-time job on top of this
Simply put, people spend their time with this commercial enterprise in a variety of ways. All these ways earn the team money in some capacity. You don't use drive-in movie theatre sales as the measure of a movie's worth, the in-stadium experience isn't the only way to consume this product.
That's what it is, at the end of the day. A product. Consumer usages shift, it's up to the businesses to adjust and capitalize on these habits before somebody else does. One look at the MLBAM books should tell you baseball is doing just fine, but thanks for asking.
He's awesome. I assume. I wasn't there to watch the game so how can I ever know? I'm not in the mood for this anymore. Swinging strikes are good.
Image courtesy of Artificial Owl