Monday, June 1, 2009

846 Words Too Many

This article by Wallace Matthews of Newsday was published on Saturday but for some reason it didn't show up in my Google Reader until this morning. I wish it never had. 

Why he thought it was necessary to spend 850 words wandering around the topic of poor attendance at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field is beyond me to begin with. To make matters worse, it's not like he gets right to the heart of the matter. He tiptoes around anything that could be considered "topical" or "relevant" like he's slowdancing with his mother and instead churns out paragraphs like the one below. 

So far, the Yankees are averaging 44,636 in their new crib, the Mets 38,806. If baseball is so popular in this town and Yankees and Mets games truly are must-see events, as both clubs insisted throughout the offseason, why aren't there 10,000 people milling around outside their ballparks every game night, trying to buy up every last ticket in the house, and the rest going home empty-handed and disappointed?

Well, since you asked... Ticket. Prices. TICKET PRICES. The price of admission, the cost of entry, door fees, gate charges. Call it whatever you want. Incredibly, Matthews does not mention pricing once in his column. Prices were set it a totally different economic climate that the one that exists now and since some of the seats were already sold, it's tough to go back and change them.

One of the reasons, of course, is simple and self-evident. It's the economy, stupid. 

Hmm... does that phrase sound familiar? I'm guessing that Jason's recent national exposure and resulting media tour had a little something to do with that, although Matthews would certainly never admit it. Those four words sum it up pretty nicely, though. So that's the end of the article, right...?

But in a metropolitan area that certainly has more than 83,442 people - the combined average attendance at both parks - wealthy enough to buy their way into these exclusive clubs dressed as ballparks, there has to be something more to it.

It's not the same 83,442 people showing up at the parks every night, you dummy. 

Does there have to be more to it? I'm pretty sure those last two points - ticket prices and the economy - pretty much cover it. But, okay, let's humor him. Tell us, Wallace. What is this incredible insight you have into the matter? What could be this mysterious X-factor keeping fans from coming to the park? It's not going to be some meaningless cliche, is it?

It just might be that the remarkably deep-pocketed, thick-skinned and resilient sports fans of this town finally have reached their limit.

Deep-pocketed? Remember eight seconds ago, when you said it was "about the economy, stupid"? Not every sports fan is deep-pocketed, especially not at the moment. And what does being "thick-skinned" or "resilient" have to do with attending a sporting event?

It never has been easy to be a fan, especially around here, where aside from the Yankees' transcendent five-year run in the late 1990s and the occasional Giants Super Bowl appearance, our teams have never given much return for what always has been a hefty investment.

You know, aside from 1971-1977, Led Zeppelin wasn't that great of a band, anyway. The Yankees made the playoffs for 13 straight fucking years and appeared in six World Series you ungrateful prick. It's been insanely easy to be a fan around here.

The Giants have won three Super Bowls in the last 23 seasons. Given that there are 32 teams in the salary-capped NFL, that's pretty amazing. The Mets had some bad stretches, but made a good run in the late 90's, have been competitive for the past four seasons and project to be good for quite a while. 

And what the fuck do you want from your "investment"? No one is making you buy tickets to the game. When I head up to the Stadium, I don't need a promise that the team is going to win a championship that year. I go because it's a fun time, the team is competitive and I enjoy watching sporting events in the venues in which they are played.

It's simply no longer worth it, no matter how good the team is or how deeply ingrained in your DNA the ritual of going to the ballpark on a summer night really is.

Attention baseball fans: Don't bother going to games anymore. Yankees vs. Red Sox battling for first place on a Friday night? Nope. Wallace Matthews says it's not worth it.

He ends the column with not one, but two one-sentence paragraphs. 

Even in a city this big, sooner or later, you run out of suckers.

Then the only suckers left are the teams themselves, and the people who run them.

Wallace Matthews might be a total fucking moron, but at least he's not a sucker!


  1. oy vey. Wally and me? Isn't he the one who thinks Joba would be better in the bullpen?


  2. There's no shame in being ripped off by someone far stupider than you.

  3. "Wallace Matthews" is clearly Joe Morgan's non de plume.

  4. That 44,636 average attendance only ranks #1 in the MLB. Obviously the Yankees organization is goign to collapse faster than GM so they might as well pack it up now.