Winning Just Doesn't Attract
Maybe people just miss Paul Godfrey that much.
Nah, that can't be it.
You do have to wonder, however, that with only one winning major league sports team in this city - okay, two if you want to include Toronto FC, which I don't - the Toronto Blue Jays are suffering from a significant attendance hit these days.
Yes, there are complicating factors. The season has barely started, the dome is much nicer open than when closed and baseball attendance in general is down (about 7 per cent), although not as badly as some feared it would be when projections suggested tough economic times might knock down attendance across-the-board by 17-20 per cent.
Still, you'd think a winning team in this city at this time would attract some people.
Instead, the Jays appealed to only 18,331 customers on Saturday for a game against Baltimore, and then a tidy little crowd of 20,418 yesterday as the club completed a sweep of the Orioles.
In all, average attendance so far is about 20,200, the worst in a decade and well down from last year's average of 29,626.
Again, yes, there are reasons. For instance, neither the Yankees nor the Bosox have come to town, although that's almost become an artificial way for the Jays to pump up their attendance numbers since those two clubs bring a travelling band of fans with them. And there was that no-beer game that one supposes would have discouraged some from attending.
That said, it should be noted that not only are the 18-9 Jays playing well these days, they have almost no competition, with both the Raptors and Maple Leafs having started their summer vacations long ago.
This is a baseball team that has the market to itself. Yet the numbers aren't there.
Nobody's expecting things to be like they were back in the salad days when the Jays attendance peaked at a 50,098 average back in 1993. But since a low of 20,209 in 2002, the fans had been slowly but gradually coming back, and last season the club's average attendance was sixth best in the American League.
Now back to this. Lots of reasons for it, but at the end of the day, it's peculiar that a city that should be starved for a winner doesn't seem interested in a once-beloved baseball team that's off to a start that equals the best in its history.