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DreInWA

Twins Game Attendance: The Honeymoon is Over

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The Twins were 3-3 heading into opening day at Target Field, which frankly seemed a bit surprising considering the way they started the season. There seemed to be a faint hint of optimism about the team.

Could Chris Colabello could give us the “feel good” story of the season? Is Jason Kubel back? Would Jason Bartlett‘s injury spare us from having to witness his flailing attempts to hit major league pitching/catch a ball in the outfield?

Things were looking up. What was predicted to be an anemic offense was scoring runs. In fact, even after a dismal three-game sweep by the Athletics at home, the Twins still rank 8th in the majors and 2nd in the AL in runs scored. It wasn’t always pretty, but the offense was doing enough to keep the Twins in games.

Of course the problem, and this may seem familiar at this point, was the pitching. The Twins pitching staff currently sports a 6.31 ERA, which puts them dead last in the majors, and is nearly half a run worse than the 29th ranked Arizona Diamondbacks.

This is a familiar story line in Minnesota. One that fans have witnessed time and time again in this latest run of three-straight 90 loss seasons. What seems a bit different this year, is that the memo has gotten out to a large portion of the public.

It’s a small sample size (so is everything at this point in the season), but here are the attendance numbers from the first three home games of the season per ESPN.


Game 1: 35,837 (90.7% full) – % is based on regular season capacity

Game 2: 22,973 (58.2% full) – % is based on regular season capacity


Game 3: 20,650 (52.3% full) – % is based on regular season capacity

In the middle of Patrick Reusse’s latest piece, he pointed out that the Twins still had more than 3,000 tickets to sell on opening day, which on one of the first nicer days of the season, certainly didn’t seem to be a good sign for the Twins management. Reusse also noted that if the Twins offense doesn’t perform this year, it is all Joe Mauer‘s fault. Apparently, the logical assertions made in his article were limited to citing the ticket sales.

At first the numbers from games two and three really looked pretty alarming, but I found that they were roughly consistent with 2013. However, comparing the past two years to the two seasons previous is where the disparity really starts to become obvious.

2013


Game 1: 38,282 (96.9% full) – % is based on regular season capacity
Game 2: 22,963 (58.1% full) – % is based on regular season capacity
Game 3: 24,752 (62.7% full) – % is based on regular season capacity

2012


Game 1: 39,414 (99.8% full) – % is based on regular season capacity
Game 2: 31,413 (79.5% full) – % is based on regular season capacity
Game 3: 31,782 (80.5% full) – % is based on regular season capacity

2011


Game 1: 40,714 (103.1% full) – % is based on regular season capacity
Game 2: 39,936 (101.1% full) – % is based on regular season capacity
Game 3: 38,484 (97.4% full) – % is based on regular season capacity

When looking at these numbers, it is hard to even claim that the honeymoon with Target Field is over, when the reality is that it was probably over a year ago. Fans are upset by the product that has been put on the field, and with the current Twins payroll hovering around $85 million, just good enough for 24th in the majors, they have every right to be.

Look, I get it.

Even if the Twins had spent much more in free agency, they still probably wouldn’t have been competitive this season. If I were the Pohlad’s, I wouldn’t want to throw away tens of millions of dollars for a few more wins either, but as we trudge toward what will likely be a fourth-straight 90 loss season, fans are fed up, and no amount of “How about the great concession stands,” “Did we mention the 2014 All Star Game,” or “Just wait until the reinforcements get here” talking points are going to bring the fans back.

Only winning will do that.

Unfortunately, though the pitching will likely improve, it is just as likely that the offense will regress to their meager expectations set before the start of the season, and it could be a long year.

Accountability is the buzzword now, and barring a meteoric Byron Buxton/Alex Meyer call up, there will be few reasons for fans to come out to see this team. The front office can continue to wax poetically about about the future while listing the cumulative salary figures when talking about Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, but it seems as though the fans see through that now.

It’s hard to know who to blame, because the team isn’t good enough to really blame the coaching staff. The Nolasco and Hughes signings got people paying attention, but then nothing significant followed. For the Twins this was big spending, but within the context of baseball today, this was run of the mill, and the onus there either falls on Terry Ryan or the Pohlad’s, or both.

Either way, the fans are holding the front office accountable for the embarrassing product they have put on the field, and they will do it by staying as far away from Target Field as possible. We will see if this accountability is contagious, and begins to be seen in the decisions the organization makes going forward.

Updated 04-11-2014 at 03:47 PM by DreInWA

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Comments

  1. gunnarthor's Avatar
    Part of the problem is you are comparing some weekday home games the last two years to the 2011 season which were friday-sunday night games.

    I have no doubt that attendance this year will be lower than last year - until Buxton comes up at least - but it's not a huge deal for us anyways until/unless the payroll is affected and there is no indication that it will be.
  2. Ncgo4's Avatar
    Buxton? Who are you kidding? A slight wrist sprain, "He's day to day." Is now 4 weeks and won't play until May, "We're being cautious." Is this another example of the Twins great medical team at work? Remember a Guy named Sano who had a sore elbow? "He'll rest it over the winter?" Then when spring training arrived, Tommy John surgery.
  3. ND-Fan's Avatar
    The problem the Twins face is that their time to add free agents to improve this team was two years ago after the second terrible year. I think Terry Ryan being from the old school was going to rebuild this team way he did in the 90's and into early 2000's this was from within not spending money on free agency. This was the plan and he was more optimistic that team could play close to 500 baseball which he told the Pohlads. The problem was the team under performed and injuries decimated the team to point where they were not even competitive the last month and half of season. This left the fan base with memory of terrible team and one of the worst records in baseball. The problem with this scenario was that it repeated itself for the last two seasons.
    This is when Pohlads I believe came into discussion of baseball operations of the team telling Terry Ryan that needed to spend enough to keep the brand value up by putting together team that could be respectable until this new wave of talent that is coming will be here at the major league level. The problem that has caused is that Twins did sign pitchers that fit into this rebuild but were not dominate and they have gotten off to poor start. Also the Twins signing free agents I believe have been hampered by free agents don't want to play for looser and just gap filler between that new wave of talent unless its for ridiculus amount of money. This has left us with 2014 and probably part 2015 until we can see the turn around of this team. Not helping this is that new wave of talent is getting hurt further delaying the process. Terry Ryan could be held at fault but he was rebuilding team the way management wanted previously from the within and with very little money spent. He has done that again I believe and has to just wait and keep adding talent to the minors as he goes along. Manager Gardenhire could be held at fault and would likely would have been gone in a lot of other organizations for on field performance but truth is that nobody could have won with this team. Maybe a manager or two could have tweaked one or two more wins or they could have easily lost several more. The Pohlads ultimately are responsible but I do believe they as owners have been willing to put a winning team on the field. I think what we have had here is lack of communication and management plan for the goal of this organization on how quickly they wanted to have competitive team on the field. I am betting this has been addressed in the last year and is on going how to structure and get organization on the same page from owners, baseball management, to total Twins business management on same page and be able to improve the Twins brand. I believe this is the case based on Jim Pohlads statements he has made in the last year.
    The Twins went through this like in late 70's and early 80's and again in late 90's and early 2000's the difference was in ownership and management how they did it. The first time under
    Griffiths they just brought all the young talent up and let them play at majors but this was draw for fans to watch future of Twins grow. The risk is that some may never recover from being beaten up at major league level but this group core was basis for Twins 87 world series win. The second time was in early 2000's when they had worked a core group of players until they were ready to be at major league level the result was nearly a decade of winning baseball. Personally I liked the first because I think it created hard core nucleus of players that just wanted prove to rest of baseball that they were winners and they went out and did win the ultimate prize. But the time was different now players seem to have confidence that they can win and if they have lost it they can't get it back. Our only hope is The Twins pitching does get better and Plouffe , Colabella, Mauer, and Arcia when he gets back continue to hit like they have now or in past and Hicks, Dozier, and Suzuki continue to have average performances. What I have seen so far this year by eye test this is better club than last two years maybe stats don't bare this out yet but I can see they are better team and more talented than they have been previous two years. Some players just look better and are prepared to play at this level examples are Dozier, Plouffe, Arcia, and Pinto. Lets just hope things start coming together nothing I like better than to watch baseball if it played well not what we experienced last year at the end of the season.
  4. Sconnie's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Ncgo4
    Buxton? Who are you kidding? A slight wrist sprain, "He's day to day." Is now 4 weeks and won't play until May, "We're being cautious." Is this another example of the Twins great medical team at work? Remember a Guy named Sano who had a sore elbow? "He'll rest it over the winter?" Then when spring training arrived, Tommy John surgery.
    At least Sano's elbow hasn't fallen off, nor Buxton's hand... JK I have been suspect of the medical staff and the PR that goes with it since "bilateral leg weakness gate". Back to Dre's point... I think he's right, this will be a lower attendance season until this team puts something out there worth paying the price of admission for. The food and drink isn't that great...
    All we've heard is Sano this, Buxton that, those two are on the shelf for a big chunk or all of this season. That means the Twins need to find a new mechanism for 2014 and 2015 optimism.
  5. Devereaux's Avatar
    Next year will be the big test. This season they can still count 17,000 "paid attending" because the season ticket numbers haven't dropped as drastically as they might have, thanks to the All-Star Game.

    Next year the bottom could very well drop out, even if the Twins scramble to mediocrity. Minnesota fans have always been very fickle.
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