In April and early May, there was a great deal of hand-wringing about Major League Baseball's attendance. It was a problem. Or so everyone kept saying, with a supposed drop of something like five percent through the season's first few weeks. Coming after a few previous seasons of attendance declines, this was a real concern. You know, an attendance problem.
I took Commissioner Bud Selig at his word, though. Here's what Selig said to Tom Verducci in early May:
"Do I have any concerns? No. None whatsoever," he said. "We'll be up. All I can tell you is I'm bullish where we are and where we'll finish."
"It's like a general manager once told me, 'I can never understand how people get upset about a team in April. There are five months to go. Don't draw any conclusions now,'" Selig said. "It's the same with attendance. Cleveland will be up, Kansas City will do much better . . . We lost 13 games [to rain]. Look, I've been watching these things for 40 years. Overall, I know the ticket business. We're off to a beautiful start."
Well, guess what ... Attendance this season is now up slightly. Sure, it's by the tiniest of margins and might actually end up very slightly lower than last season's. But with so many teams contending, it seems to me slightly more likely that the numbers will tick up just a bit, which would count as a major win for MLB (and Commissioner Bud), considering how far down the Dodgers and the Mets are this season. Both franchises will presumably be on firmer ground with their fans next season, and in the absence of some major disaster elsewhere, 2012 figures to improve greatly over 2011.
Hat Tip: Biz of Baseball