I went to the A’s game on Thursday, Sept. 17th, and although the announced attendance was 10,873, there were no more than five or six thousand people in the stands. What’s going on here?
Ticket holders are staying home: The only explanation for the disparity between the paid attendance and the butts in the seats is that people are buying tickets but staying home in droves. In this economy, I would think they wouldn’t buy the tickets in the first place. A friend suggested that the season ticket holders may have given up on the team. That also surprises me as season ticket holders are usually the most loyal fans, since they have to cough up large amounts of money before the season has even started. All I know is that it is a shame that the team is being sent a message that the fans don’t care, especially when they are playing well.
The A’s Are Playing Great: The A’s have won their last 6 games, and 11 of the last 13, most games against teams contending for their division. So it got me thinking about the A’s team and player statistics, to see if that might explain why the A’s seem to be in such disfavor with the fans.
Won-Loss Record: As of the end of play yesterday (Sept. 19th), the A’s have won 70 and lost 78 games, for a winning percentage of .473, ranked last place in the AL West, and 18 games behind the Angels. But with that won-loss record, if the A’s were in the AL East, they’d be in 3rd place ahead of both the Blue Jays and the Orioles, and if they were in the AL Central, they’d be in 4th place ahead of the Kansas City Royals. We could talk about the relative strengths of the divisions, but you get my point. It’s not good, but it’s not all that bad.
After the All Star Break: The picture is much rosier for the 2nd half of the season. The A’s have won 33 and lost 29, for a winning percentage of .532. In fact, since May, the A’s have won 51 and lost 49, for a winning percentage of .510. Folks, that’s playing over .500 ball! If the A’s keep playing like they have over the last 2 weeks, they could even finish the season over .500, which everyone has said all year would be a great achievement, given the team’s youth and the team’s dismal first two months.
But let’s look at the statistics more closely:
Runs Scored vs. Runs Allowed: During the first half of the season, the A’s won 37 and lost 49 (.430). They scored 361 runs (4.2 runs/game) but allowed 401 runs to score (5.3 r/g). That tells you all you need to know about the first half of the season.
During the second half of the season so far, the team has scored 320 runs (6.2 r/g), but have allowed 285 runs (5.5 r/g). They young pitchers have learned how to avoid the big inning for the most part, some have added new pitches to their arsenal, and the walks are way down. Brett Anderson has emerged as the Ace of the rotation, and Cahill and Gonzalez have been strong of late. But the hitting and scoring has picked up considerably as shown by the runs scored stat for the 2nd half.
Team Stats of Note: Notwithstanding the A’s fans’ apathy, the team is by no means at the bottom of the 14 teams in the AL in most categories. If you want to talk about a bad team, I suffered through the A’s first year in Kansas City as a child when they won 63 and lost 91 games (154-game season back then). One especially ugly game took place on April 23rd of that year in which the A’s lost to the White Sox by the score of 29-6. They stank, yet the fans came out to the games. But I digress.
Here are some bright spots from this season:
Hitting: The A’s typically rank 8th, 9th, or 10th in most hitting categories, meaning that 4-6 teams were worse than the A’s in most hitting categories. The do rank high in at least 1 statistic: 5th in sacrifice flies! The only hitting category they rank last in is in home runs–no big surprise there.
Fielding: In most categories the A’s rank in the middle of the pack. They have had the fewest passed balls (chalk that up to Kurt Suzuki!)
They rank 4th in put-outs, innings played on the field, and caught stealing percentage (Suzuki again).
Pitching: The A’s pitching staff are the youngest in average age (25.8 years), 4th in team shutouts and 12th in wild pitches made. They have the 5th lowest team ERA (4.28) ahead of the Yankees (6th) and the Angels (10th), and 5th in intentional walks, as well as 7th in strike outs, 8th in saves, 9th in runs allowed, and tied with Boston for the fewest home runs allowed.
Player Stats of Note: On Friday night when the League Leaders were up on the Diamond Vision Screen, I expected not to see any A’s player’s mentioned. But I was wrong. Here are some top-ten player achievements and some not so great records this year:
Walks: 5th – Jack Cust (88)
Strikeouts: 1st – Jack Cust (167)
Stolen Bases: 4th – Rajai Davis (40)
Caught Stealing: 4th – Rajai Davis (11)
At Bats/Strikeout: 7th – Kurt Suzuki (9.943)
Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position (both in the top 10):
Adam Kennedy - .349
Rajai Davis – .337
So why don’t the fans come to the Coliseum? We have an exciting team right now, so we can’t lay the blame on the players. They are playing their hearts out and the games are fun to watch, especially lately. Some possible culprits that I have mentioned before and some new ones are, in no particular order:
- The media paint a gloomy picture. Remember, their unofficial motto is “If it bleeds, it leads!” Translation: bad news gets more ink than good news, which encourages the sports writer to look for the negatives.
- The Coliseum is old, low tech, and not particularly fan friendly. The A’s will be there for the foreseeable future, so fans, GET OVER IT! It’s not that bad and the food and drink are plentiful and good, if expensive. Lew Wolff, you could spend a little money on the Coliseum which would help the fan experience. I have some ideas on that. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Manager hasn’t a clue. I’ve discoursed on that subject before. See my earlier blogs.
- The team has no marquee players. Are the A’s fans so shallow that they have to have a star to get them out to a game? If so, they aren’t true fans of the game of baseball. Get excited about Kurt Suzuki, Mark Ellis, Raj Davis, Adam Kennedy, Ryan Sweeney, and the young pitchers.
Get off your butts and out to the Coliseum! I’m doing my part.
- You freeze your butt off at night games. So bundle up! It’s an easy fix.
It’s a shame that the stands are so empty at game time. I am sure there are more reasons than I have listed. Perhaps you’d like to share yours. Go A’s!!!
P.S. They won again today 11-4, sweeping the Indians! Gotta love this team.
Next Article: Being a Fan Can Be Dangerous.
As the baseball season begins its fall from summer into winter, and as I embark on a major rewrite of my novel “Contract Year,” I will be posting a bit less frequently on this blog. This is also a natural occurance as the season comes to an end and many people’s focus shifts to football (not mine, however.) There just simply will be less and less news on baseball during the offseason to write about. I will still try to post once a week, but don’t desert me if I miss one or two.
Cliff Pennington and Landon Powell Contribute Big: Cliff had a great game on Saturday, making 2 amazing plays at shortstop, and hitting his first homer from the right side, going 3 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and a walk.
He has a cannon for an arm and Sunday threw out Ichiro when everyone including Ichiro thought he had a hit.
Landon Powell has caught 3 games in the last 8 days and muscled his 1st career grandslam home run to right-center in the 2nd inning on Wednesday against the Royals, and a solo shot high up in the right field bleachers on Sunday. Here’s his trot to homeplate on Wednesday.
Apparently, Landon left the locker room before the press could get to him to ask him about his grand salame, and a conference call had to be set up so that the press could get their statement. Rookie mistake!
Scott Hairston and Gio Gonzalez: Scott Hairston was both goat and hero on Sunday. In the 5th inning with Seattle ahead 2-1, Scott came up with the bases loaded and 1 out, the best opportunity for the A’s so far against Seattle’s Doug Fister from Merced, CA, and popped up to Jose Lopez in foul territory, stranding the 3 runners. Unfortunately, Landon Powell couldn’t get the runners home either.
However, in the bottom of the 7th, Hairston came up with exactly the same situation as in the 5th,
but this time he delivered, blasting a grandslam into the left bleachers, putting the A’s ahead for good, 5-2. He was grinning as he met the huddle around home plate. I bet he called big brother Jerry who plays for the Yankees as soon as possible to tell him the good news.
Gio Gonzalez had undoubtedly his best outing of the season, pitching 7 innings, allowing 2 runs and only 2 walks and throwing 3 strikeouts. The best part of the outing was his effective use of the new 4-seam changeup that he has been working on for the last few months, giving him a credible third pitch to go with his breaking fastball and nasty curve. After giving up a run in the 1st, he settled down and allowed only one more run in the next 6 innings. In the bottom of the 7th when Gio’s day was done, Hairston’s slam got him the win, the second time the A’s gave him a victory in that fashion this year. In July, the A’s scored 6 runs to give Gio a win after pitching his final inning in Yankee Stadium.
Brad Zieger came in and pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning and Andrew (“Boom Boom”) Bailey closed it out for his 23rd save, tying Huston Street’s Oakland record for most rookie saves. Bailey was named American League Rookie of the Month for August. He also is considered one of the front runners for AL Rookie of the Year. Go get’em Boom Boom!
All for now. Upcoming topics include: Being a Fan Can Be Dangerous, Interesting Statistics, and anthing else that I get curious about.