The 2016 Angels will go down in history as many things: a Tommy John surgery patient incubator, an AL West failure, a treatise on how not to improve the LF situation, a continued wasting of Mike Trout’s many talents, etc. They’ll also go down as the worst Halos team since the beginning of the millennium, an 88-game-losing spectacle that always found new ways to frustrate.
But the season will NOT go down as a failure to the Angels’ front office brass, and that’s because, for the 13th year in a row, they hit their “3 million fans in attendance!” benchmark that we’ve gotten so used to hearing/reading about. With all of the moaning and groaning going on from the fan base, especially in the dog days of August and September, you’d have thought that the team was in danger of under-performing at the turnstiles, but nope. Not this year!
The Angels finished with an attendance of 3,016,143...which is somehow about 3,300 and change better than they did the previous season, when they won 11 more games and were actually in the hunt for a playoff spot going into the final series. Is Arte Moreno and crew popping the bubbly?
Well, probably not. If there’s an off-the-field, behind the scenes MVP of the Angels this year, Moreno would probably give that award to Ron Holt of 714 Tickets. When I saw that the Angels’ attendance wasn’t slipping this year, despite the putrid product on the field, I realized something was fishy.
That’s when a veteran ticket reseller filled me in on 714 Tickets’ exclusive deal with the Halos this year, that saw them buying large swaths of tickets before anybody else could get their hands on them. I have a feeling this gamble didn’t quite work out for Ron Holt, but the Angels came out looking like everything is A-OK at the box office.
This is the part where we remind everyone that “attendance” means “tickets sold”, not “actual butts in seats”, and when you saw the Angels, in the last handful of home games, stating decent attendance numbers despite a near-empty stadium, everything starts to get a bit clearer.
Sure, the tickets were bought and paid for, but people were still staying home. This may be the last year we see the 3 Million Fans meme touted by the Angels, because A) I doubt they’ll be able to swindle another large-scale reseller like 714 Tickets into going whole hog again, thus masking their ticket sales troubles and B) the team is probably going to have some similar struggles on the field in 2017 as they did in 2016.
13 years of 3 Million Fans is a nice little talking point, but it’s one that I think we’ve seen the last of around here. Perhaps then, and only then, will we start to see some legitimate changes in the organization, as they’ll be forced to reckon with the sub-par team they’ve constructed, and no amount of Ron Holt or 714 Tickets jingles will be able to save them.