As I write this, the Padres have just been dominated by a no-name pitcher and seen their record slip to a barely believable 20-24. Fans were promised a better team, and yet there’s this:
On the other hand, because of that promise, there’s also this:
|G||2014 Att/G||2015 Att/G||Diff|
(Data courtesy of Baseball-Reference.)
Only the Royals and Mariners have seen a greater increase in attendance. The Royals are coming off their first World Series appearance in three decades, and the Mariners are, uh, in Seattle.
A.J. Preller’s offseason hyperactivity produced quite the buzz among a fan base that had largely dozed off after years of boredom with a home team that promised nothing and delivered less. He woke them up and commanded their attention.
Preller and company opened their checkbooks. Fans followed suit.
And yet the Padres are a game behind where they were at this time each of the last two years. They’re scoring more runs but also giving up more. Maybe that’s exciting.
Maybe all the former All-Stars on the roster are exciting. The Padres are losing, but this time they’re doing it with famous people.
Anyone can lose with Everth Cabrera, Cameron Maybin, and Eric Stults. But do it with Matt Kemp, James Shields, and Justin Upton, and folks start to take notice.
And then the blame game begins. Those same people who bought the new plan and, with it, a boatload of tickets to watch said plan in action are now calling for heads to roll.
It’s an understandable response. The team paid more for famous players. Fans got excited and expected more famous/expensive to translate into better on the field, which hasn’t happened yet.
On the other hand, teams can catch fire. The Dodgers had a famous and expensive team in 2013 that stumbled to a 22-30 start. Don Mattingly’s seat might have been feeling a tad warm. They went 70-40 the rest of the way. Mattingly finished second in the National League Manager of the Year voting.
I’m not saying the 2015 Padres will catch fire, but it does happen. I’m not saying Bud Black is going to right the ship, but there is historical precedent, and you don’t have to look that far back or that far away.
Or to put it another way, if you bought the hype in January, shouldn’t you still be buying it in May?