• Member of The Internet Defense League

  • Select-A-Ticket 120x600
  • SecondSpin.com

We Have a Lot of Work to Do to Be a Baseball Town

How do you exactly describe what it takes to be a “baseball town?”

After years of finishing in the cellar almost every year in the previous decade, we now can’t even enjoy the fact that there was excitement and a reason to watch come the end of September. That is, to those who were actually watching.

Even if the Rangers season came to a slow, silent end Monday night, the previous Sunday afternoon was everything I could have wanted, being there with friends as the Rangers pulled off what many thought impossible in sweeping a whole seven-game homestand just to make it to that tiebreaker.

But yes, I join in Ian Kinsler’s disappointment that there had to be at least 10 thousand empty seats at the Ballpark for this do-or die game.

Fueled by Josh Hamilton’s claim in April that this is “not a baseball town,” the people in this town seemed to take that as a rallying cry in proving him wrong. The result? Three hundred thousand less in attendance. And TV ratings no better than some of the reality TV garbage on the air now. Way to go.

The Angels, meanwhile, drew nearly the same attendance as the Rangers for a team that finished 18 games out of first place – and had another baseball team in their area that did make the playoffs, to boot.

Let me get this out of the way. One thing I have tried to avoid in my criticism of the support the Rangers get is the behavior of those who actually turn out at the Ballpark. The atmosphere within the Ballpark has indeed improved leaps and bounds from years ago, even though I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “the loudest in baseball.”

And no, I don’t mean to completely wave off the significance of them drawing 3 million in attendance for a second straight year.

But keep in mind, three million in attendance does not mean three million FANS in this area, it means three million tickets sold. And people buy tickets to multiple games. If 10 thousand have full season tickets and another 10 thousand have 27-game mini-plans, that’s a million tickets alone purchased by just 20 thousand people. Really, that three million mark could be accomplished by only six figures of persons.

And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. It’s surely the same in all other cities that drew near the same amount as the Rangers. With ticket prices, travel times and other factors, there are several people in any major area that can’t attend games in person. I get that.

That’s why I consider TV ratings to be such a vital aspect in team support, and that is where we have still failed miserably and where it shows there is still a lot of work to do before this “baseball town” clam can be validated.

The numbers for the final game of the regular season spoke volumes in the lack of volume. The entire season on the line – if they don’t win, you don’t get to see another game until April – and last Sunday’s game could not even draw a 6 in the ratings. The Cowboys game, with their season not even a month into it? Drew four times that amount.

Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket, the station I have been berated to listen to under claims that “they do talk about the Rangers?” Monday was almost exclusively about the Cowboys, and BREAKING BAD. Virtually no talk about the previous day’s game or the tiebreaker that was to be played that night.

Which isn’t surprising, since shows like The Hardline supposedly declared the Rangers dead a month earlier.

That in of itself just reinforces how a football mindset continues to negatively influence the attitude toward baseball here. So many people just can’t grasp the unique concepts of the marathon that is a baseball season. They can’t understand that a six-game losing streak or a three-game deficit do not mean the end of a season, because they are too programmed from a sport where winning almost every game is expected and losing three in a row can in fact kill a season.

That is why people like Kinsler, Hamilton and Cliff Lee continue to take jabs at the Rangers fans for a lack of enthusiasm.

And as this year’s finish may have sadly secured that there won’t be another 3 million attendance mark next year, we may have to endure another off-season of free agents spurning the team to show how much they think a “baseball town” this truly is.

Advertisements

For Many Rangers Fans, The Seaon Might as Well Be Over

The more things change, the more new Rangers players take part in the All-Star Game, the more they stay the same.
The Rangers prepare for the second half sitting just two back of the Oakland A’s at 54-41. But to hear the cries of the “fandom,” that record might as well be reversed with them being 22 games back.
Hit the panic button! Rangers aren’t in first! Season’s over! When does Cowboys training camp start?
Forget the fact that the Rangers have the second-best ERA in the American League despite having to run multiple rookies into starts due to injuries. With Rangers fans, it’s always about how bad Justin Grimm has been instead of how great Yu Darvish is.
Heck, I’m surprised the cries of “Yu Darvish isn’t a true ace after all,” haven’t started all ready. After Darvish inexplicably went more than a month without a win, talk hosts, writers and pundits scrambled for a reason and latched onto the fact that Yu had been throwing more breaking balls recently instead of trusting in his fastball. Yu’s response was to basically say he doesn’t listen to what the media tells him to do.
I knew there was a reason to like that guy.
Thus, despite having broken through and made the World Series in consecutive years, nothing has changed among the observers in Arlington. This, to just about everyone, is a team doomed to failure and thus nothing more than a novelty meant to keep us briefly entertained and distracted until the REAL athletes show up in Oxnard. (I’m still trying to figure out exactly who on the radio said that.)
And of course, if the inevitable collapse of their pitching staff doesn’t get them, the inevitable implosion of their lineup from Nelson Cruz’s certain drug suspension will.
Never mind that, as I pointed out earlier, these suspensions are not definite – especially since no player will immediately miss games upon filing a grievance. In fact, the players union is now suggesting that, given the time the MLB office has taken and the time a grievance hearing would then take. it likely won’t be until next year that any penalties would actually come, even IF MLB wins its case.
If there’s one thing I’ll admit I’ve liked since giving 1310 The Ticket one more chance, it has been Norm Hitzges, the calming presence of the media. Constantly bringing up the ungodly amount of injuries and how this team has still managed to weather the storm for the most part, Norm has steadfastly begged Ranger Nation to do one thing: Enjoy the ride of a team that has been constantly in the picture since 2009, which seemed impossible at one point.
Sadly, that won’t cut it with the sports market that’s only happy when it’s dominating.
I doubt even the wisdom of Norm will be enough to calm the whining masses. While they point to the fact that the Cows were just a few inches away from making the playoffs multiple times last year and thus are certain to break through this year, the near misses the Ranger shave are proof positive to them that they have no chance of coming out on top.
That’s the most frustrating thing about this whole situation. There is truly nothing this team can do to make people satisfied. Heck, even if they were 12 games up at this time, the social media would be loaded with the likes of “Does the collapse begin now?”
It’s the same old story. If they aren’t dominating, their support shrivels up.
The Rangers’ drop in the standings from where they were in May has already caused those top-ranked attendance figures North Texas was trumpeting to plummet. If they’re even a single game out by the time training camp rolls along, the turnstile count could get even worse.
Until, hopefully, they get everyone healthy, steamroll their way through September and lo and behld, find their way in the postseason for a fourth straight year.
And then everyone will say they knew it all along.