My, how time flies. The Angels are slowly approaching the halfway mark of their 2016 season, and it’s been a muted, disappointing affair so far, one that most of us could have predicted just based on the lineups coming out of Spring Training. However, once you toss in a bevy of big time DL additions, you have an unmitigated failure. With 70 games in the books, the Halos find themselves jockeying with the A’s for last place in the AL West, and are currently 8 games under .500.
To put it simply, the season isn’t putting too many smiles on faces out there in the Halosphere, that is unless you are Arte Moreno, in which case it’s really just business as usual...and business is GOOD. Let’s emphasize that "business" part, because what I’m talking about is the Angels’ current attendance levels; this is what the executives and owners look for out of a baseball season, with wins and trophy hardware considered more of a bonus, both in bragging rights as well as the boost in sales that follows winning teams.
One of the biggest boasts the Angels’ have consistently trotted out since 2003 (when Arte Moreno became owner) is their ability to draw 3 million fans or more, per year. In a lot of those seasons, you could understand the why/how of this, mainly because the Angels were putting out good teams, winning division titles, etc. But last year, amid all the ire surrounding the team and their troubles both on an off the field, that 3 million fans mark seemed in jeopardy. They would end up getting those 3 million fans, though, but it felt as if there was a sea change in Orange County’s love affair with the Angels.
When the winter meetings yielded no big, free agent LF signing, many began to openly withdraw support of the team. If not fully disavowing any allegiance, then people were saying they’d, at the very least, stop giving Moreno their hard-earned money at the Big A. No butts in seats will send a message to Arte Moreno, that the fans will not accept this continued bungling...RIGHT?!
I agreed with this sentiment, thinking to myself that if there was one way to get to Moreno and send a message, it’s via fans’ wallets. Unfortunately, most people seemed to miss that memo, because while the team currently stinks and looks to be a dud this season, the attendance at the games is doing A-OK...this is music to the front office’s ears.
Here are the current MLB attendance numbers as of 6/21/2016:
|1||Los Angeles Dodgers||36||1,616,086||44,891|
|2||St. Louis Cardinals||36||1,565,275||43,479|
|3||San Francisco Giants||35||1,453,312||41,523|
|5||New York Yankees||32||1,219,172||38,099|
|6||Los Angeles Angels||35||1,328,186||37,948|
|7||Toronto Blue Jays||34||1,280,485||37,661|
|8||Boston Red Sox||38||1,347,586||35,462|
|9||New York Mets||33||1,158,573||35,108|
So, first up, let's get the usual clarifications out of the way regarding terms like "attendance" in the MLB. We all know that "attendance" does not mean butts in seats or even something as reliable as turnstile clicks, and that it doesn't account for no shows. Since about 2005, MLB teams no longer have to report any of that stuff when totaling their attendance figures. All that matters is TICKETS SOLD.
When trying to figure out how in the the world the Angels could be sixth overall in attendance, and second place among AL teams, you can sense an obvious smoke screen of semantics, but when looking at the issue through the prism of tickets sold, it begins to make more sense. It's still a sham, but I suppose it's a sham with some sort of rhyme and reason.
This has been the asterisk of their highly-touted "3 Million Fans" figure they talk about each year, because often times, if you're a regular visitor to the Big A this season, you'll notice plenty of empty seats. But hey, tickets are being sold and the team can continue to brag about it, regardless of how big their no-show rate is. This season is especially surprising, because of how poorly the team is doing, but maybe throwing out extra-desperate ticket promotions in the first half of the season has paid off? Did they get a lot of people to buy in, before the sad sack nature of these current Angels was revealed?
This all leads to one thing: business as usual. For a team that's heading toward some dark, Trout-wasting years ahead, "business as usual" is great for nobody except El Jefe himself. It's a white flag preemptively waved in front of the so cal megalopolis. Arte Moreno will never be forced to look himself in the metaphorical mirror until those tickets sold numbers crater, and until they can no longer throw the 3 Million Fans mark in the faces of their righteously indignified fan base.
Having been to a number of home games already this season, and having watched the rest on TV with my own eyeballs, I have to admit I was shocked at the fact the Angels were #2 in American League attendance. Maybe that was naivete on my part; maybe I forget that MLB owners have been finding ways to put a positive spin on empty seating sections for years now, and Moreno/the Angels aren't any different.
I was hoping for a message to be sent, somehow, some way, to the ownership of this team; a directive from the fans themselves, who in abstaining from buying tickets, were telling Moreno to shape up or ship out. But that's not really happening here.
No, it's business as usual, and we're at a point where Arte Moreno may be the biggest problem with the team, but in the current state of all things Angels, he has absolutely no reason to bow out or cut ties, especially when the team is still raking in dough. It's going to be interesting to see how they can continue this plate-spinning feat they call attendance reporting in the coming years, when they appear to be set for some struggles at best, or completely rebuilding at worst.