There is a story in today's Star about declining baseball attendance, both in Toronto and across the MLB.
Through Monday 70,582,852 fans had attended Major League Baseball games, compared with 75,485,348 at the same point in 2008, according to the baseball database baseball-reference.com. Nineteen of 30 teams saw attendance decline, led by the Washington Nationals (down 22.8 per cent) and the Blue Jays (21.8 per cent).
How to spin this? Bud?
And commissioner Bud Selig told USA Today the weakened U.S. economy should have produced an even bigger dip in attendance.
``Given that we are in the worst economic recession since the Great Depression ... it is stunning," Selig said. "This year is a great testament to the huge popularity of our sport.'
Get that? It's stunning. Bud figures, considering the product that has been out on the field under his watch, it is 'stunning' that anyone comes to the games.
Ok, but there is no way the Jays can spin a 22% drop in attendance, right?
As for the Blue Jays, interim president Paul Beeston denies the club is hemorrhaging fans the way the stats suggest.
This season, he says, the Jays counted only tickets sold in their attendance figures, which yielded smaller numbers but a better read on the team's popularity.
"Overall we are not disappointed with attendance, because we are up in revenue. I would say we're up marginally, but we're up'' (over 2008)," he said. "Going forward, these are numbers you can chase in the future, real numbers.''
Oh, ok we are only counting 'sold' tickets this year. How many tickets were we giving away in the past anyway? If 22% of attendance last year was 'free tickets' we've had a problem for a while now. Attendance is down, revenue is up? But we were told, before the season, that advertising dollars were way down.
You can tell Beeston isn't lying because if revenues were down they would be firing office staff to cut loses. Oh right, they did fire a couple of dozen people yesterday. Well I'm sure that wasn't because revenues are down. Because if revenues were down we wouldn't call anyone up in September and would be doing silly things like playing Kevin Millar at third and playing games with only 2 healthy subs on the bench. And, of course, we are. And we'd be giving away players. Maybe we wouldn't be signing draft picks.
So, let's see if I have this straight. Revenue is up, but we are firing people. We give away talent for free. And we don't call up needed backups because we don't want to pay meal money to a couple of guys for a few days. I am glad they cleared that up for us.