Slowly the iceberg is splitting and the fans are going elsewhere...
The attendance at Friday's Angel game was announced as 38,492 tickets sold. An actual turnstile count would be less.
Sure, lots of people stayed home to watch the Lakers (although their game on the road should have yielded some of the Staples Center faithful into the Big A) and sure, it was the Mariners, a low-draw team from the day they were conceived ...but still ... is it the absurd StubHub ticket surcharges? The fact that obstructed view seats are over $25 each? Has listening to the nightly Steve Physioc improvisation about baseball, the opposing team being so grand and his daughter graduating from Champman college turned you off the product on the field?
The season is now 29% over and this team is not looking as interesting as previous incarnations. They play hard, sure, and they are a good group, but nothing has gelled, we are just above .500 and the pitchers we were waiting to get back both coughed up terrible games over SIMPLE opponents this week. The future Hall of Fame hitter we waited to get back has not got even half of his legendary swing or timing back and other than three inspiring players (Torii Hunter, Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver) this team is Mike Scioscia and the Clockpunchers.
We are a long way from the paltry Oakland attendance figures, but mark the date of May 29 in your Angels diary... it is not the day that the air started leaking out from the fanbase... that day has long passed. It is the day we all finally heard the hiss.
Will Scioscia and Reagins be able to patch it up with an improved on-field product? Will Terry Smith patch it up by slamming down more idiot callers? Will Rory Markus patch it up with superior play-by-play to make us forget root canals and Physioc monologues? Or will Arte and the boys be forced to serve up $5 ticket specials for the remainder of the season as a patch on the slow leak that is Southern California's waning passion for this team?
Sure, the hardcore, jersey-buying base will always be there, although not at every game. But the casual fan will fill the stadium in good times and bad if the product is presented as great. With a telecast that is less major league in its presentation than the region's National League team, we got disappearing fans and a bad infomercial out there trying to dig up replacements.
There is a hissing air of cars whizzing past the stadium in the fast lane, never veering to the Katella exit. It is growing. Will the hiss be stopped? Will the leak of fans be patched?
Better hurry... win or lose, the Lakers have another two weeks left in their season, tops. The Dodgers are grabbing the Times headlines with a cakewalk division battle and Bruin/Trojan football preseason starts in about two months. No matter what Arte's discount will be, what was 7,000 unsold tickets tonight will be three times that by this August if the team plays like they did tonight.