The 2015 season was unlike any other in Padres history. There are a lot of words to say about it, many of which involve a stream of obscenities. To avoid that for now, inspired by this post by good buddy jbox over at Gaslamp Ball I thought I’d try to learn something by looking at fans’ response to the season in a general sense. How has fan turnout changed as Padres seasons progress?
That stems from some bigger questions: What determines a team that fans are willing to pay for? What makes fans want to attend game? The answer is likely that fans are looking for some combination of things, including:
- Players fans recognize and like
- An expectation of the team winning
- An enjoyable experience at the ballpark in some other way
While all these things matter to fans, what’s important is which of them matters most.
For this exercise, I’m going to tell you right now that just looking at historical attendance won’t provide enough information to find an answer. For example: the Padres won a lot of games in 2007 and attendance was high. But Petco Park was also only in its fourth season, and new ballparks often see a spike in attendance for the first few years. How much attendance is due to each thing isn’t something we’re capable of knowing.
So instead, I’ll be writing a clickbaity headline and making some wild, unsubstantiated claims. Sound good? Sweet.
The power of hope is a curious thing. —Probably not Huey Lewis
You’re Bathing in It
It seems like a lifetime ago that Padres fans were bathing in hope after new GM A.J. Preller rebuilt the organization in his own image. The entire process captivated us in a way that the Padres seldom do.
Tired of the same old “be smart with limited resources” conservatism favored by previous regimes that yielded sporadic incremental improvement but failed to push the franchise into respectability or capture the public’s imagination, fans embraced this new, bold way of operating. People remembered how to be excited about the local baseball team again, or perhaps in some cases for the first time.
Here’s some stuff I read this week that you might enjoy:
- Removing the Fangs From Ty Cobb’s Notoriety (New York Times) – There’s a new book out about Cobb, and what author Charles Leerhsen discovered after four years of researching his subject surprised even him: “I thought I’d find new examples of monstrous monstrosity. Instead, I found a very different person than the myth. I was a little disappointed at first. He’s more normal than I thought.” Sounds like a great read, as is Cobb’s SABR biography.
- The Braves are Salvaging a Salary Dump (FanGraphs) – As Jeff Sullivan notes, former Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin has stopped hitting so many groundballs in Atlanta. That and health are turning him into the player folks once envisioned him becoming. For now, anyway. [h/t reader Didi]
- Attendance Update and the Angels’ Latest PR Mess (FanGraphs) – Through June 4, the Padres ranked 12th out of 30, just ahead of the Rangers and behind last year’s American League champion Royals. The Pads also have had the third largest gain from 2014, behind those same Royals and the hated Mariners (go figure). On the downside, literally, the Pads’ attendance slipped from April to May more than all but three teams. Hosting teams outside the division is a little different from hosting the Giants and Dodgers, who knew? That the Padres haven’t lived up to preseason hype probably doesn’t help either. Hey, at least they aren’t the Phillies.
- Padres Pics #1 (The 5.5 Hole) – This new blog promises to be fun. Anything that starts with Kurt Bevacqua dressed as Dick Williams being harassed by umpires has to be good, right? Speaking of Padres from the ’80s, Wax Pack is a book due out in 2017 (plan ahead!) that author Brad Balukjian calls “the story of a single pack of 1986 Topps baseball cards and the attempt to track down each of the players inside nearly 30 years after they were bundled together with a stick of chalky bubblegum.” Balukjian will be interviewing the players in this single pack, including Garry Templeton. Pretty cool. Others in the pack with Padres ties are Gary Pettis, Randy Ready, and Rick Sutcliffe.
- Padres draft RHP Austin Smith at No. 51 (San Diego Union-Tribune) – A.J. Preller likes his team’s first pick in the 2015 draft: “It’s a big body, good frame, big, strong and durable. Clean arm action, good delivery, and he shows three pitches.” MLB.com adds: “He works at 90-92 mph and tops out at 96 while looking like he’s just playing catch. He could sit in the mid-90s once he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame and gets more consistent.” Learn more about the Padres draft class (including third rounder Jacob Nix, who has an interesting backstory) at Draft Tracker 2015 and from our own Dustin.