Cold and Windy, with a 100% Chance of Victory

I’ve been advised that dwindling attendance at Petco Park shouldn’t worry me. This, of course, only worries me more. It’s early, and this may all be in my head, but I don’t think so.

The ballpark was dead (heck, the entire Gaslamp was dead) on Tuesday night. It’s possible that 20,825 bought tickets, but there’s no way that many attended the game — not even close.

Granted, conditions were miserable by San Diego standards, but it would have been nice to see a little support for the home club in the season’s second game. This team won 89 games last year, and yet, everywhere I turn, people are telling me how crappy the Padres are. Sure, most of them are just regurgitating what someone else told them, but after a while, people start to believe this nonsense.

Attendance, Games 1 and 2 of Season
Year Game 1 Game 2 Diff
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
Qualcomm Stadium
2000 60,021 19,035 -68.3
2001 61,277 50,149 -18.2
2002 59,103 43,861 -25.8
2003 61,707 50,605 -18.0
Petco Park
2004 41,400 41,625 +0.5
2005 43,538 39,791 -8.6
2006 43,767 23,721 -45.8
2007 44,267 40,504 -8.5
2008 44,965 20,825 -53.7

Anyway, I represented last night. That’s more than most San Diegans can claim.

As for the game, Chris Young‘s final line looks decent, but don’t be fooled. His inefficiency has been well documented, and on Tuesday, he added to the legend, throwing 112 pitches in 5 2/3 innings and going to three-ball counts on 8 of the 27 batters he faced. The Astros failed to capitalize on Young’s poor command, pushing across just one run in the sixth — on a bases-loaded walk issued by Joe Thatcher.

One thing Young did well — and the box score won’t tell you this — is control the running game. Sure, gazelle Michael Bourn swiped second in the fifth inning, but Young held him close and gave Josh Bard a fighting chance. Bard, perhaps accustomed to rushing his throws, bounced this one and Tadahito Iguchi couldn’t come up with the ball. Bourn was safe, but the play was much closer than I’d expected.

Other notes from Section 307:

  • Adrian Gonzalez crushed a ball to center in the fourth inning. For the second time in as many nights, it died along the warning track and came to rest in Bourn’s glove. (Bourn, for the record, looks like a terrific defender in center. He’s been getting great jumps, and even when he started the wrong way on a drive off the bat of Brian Giles in the seventh, Bourn managed to recover in time to make a nice grab near the wall.)
  • Speaking of center field, Scott Hairston got a better test with Young on the mound and he mostly passed. He and Giles didn’t communicate real well on a ball hit by Bourn to start the game, but after that, Hairston took charge. I count six putouts on my scorecard.
  • Hairston also smoked a two-run homer to left that accounted for all the Padres’ scoring, but we already know the guy can hit, so I don’t have much to say about that beyond “nice job.”
  • Some sloppy baserunning could have (but didn’t) cost the Padres. In the first inning, Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a fly ball to medium center. For some reason, with Gonzalez on deck, Iguchi felt the urge to test Bourn’s arm. Iguchi tagged up and was out by plenty at second. My scorecard reads “8-6 DP WTF?” Then in the eighth, Hairston got picked off rounding third base to end the inning after Paul McAnulty had beat out an infield single.
  • Speaking of Kouz, I know it’s only two games, but I’m loving his approach at the plate. He got into hitters’ counts every time up on Tuesday and hit the ball hard twice toward the middle of the diamond. People don’t realize how good he is, and as long as he plays in San Diego, that will continue to be true, which is fine as long as he continues to be that good. ;-)
  • Cla Meredith faced two batters and retired both on grounders to second. He also destroyed one of Carlos Lee’s bats in the process. I think Lee is still trying to figure out how that pitch got in on him so quickly.
  • Trevor Hoffman clearly has nothing left in the tank. Ask Lance Berkman, who waved at two changeups in the dirt to end the contest. You may be familiar with Berkman’s work as one of the planet’s best hitters. And the hit Trevor allowed? A slow roller wide of the bag at first that Hunter Pence legged out for a single. It was vicious.

Rock on…

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91 Responses »

  1. Hmm interesting data GY I would love to see how much of an increase of ticket prices there was from season to season as well. I know that this yeas hike (up 20% from last season in my preferred section) will probably cut down the number of games my wife and I will attend this year.

  2. I’m starting to think that a lot of CY’s inefficiency is due to pitch selection. As Matty V pointed out several times, he got 0-2 counts on a lot of batters last night but it seems like he starts trying to get guys to chase fastballs out of the zone and ends up wasting several pitches or hitters foul them off. I’d like to see him start throwing that slider when he has 2 strikes, he gets more misses on that pitch than anything else.

    Kouz has picked up right where he left off last year. I’ve noticed he’s been doing a great job of fouling off borderline pitches when he’s behind in the count, hanging in there until he gets something he can handle.

    It’s only two games but the team has looked great so far. Everyone is doing what he had hoped, the pitching has been great and Petco has been doing it’s part too.

  3. There is a very large variance in the second day numbers. I am curious as to what day of the week the other second days fell on.

  4. Also, the padres don’t have anybody new cept at 2nd, so its the same old same old.

    An Andrew Jones in center would put butts in the seats. Edmunds, not so much.

    BTW, need nicks for Edmunds and Tiguchi.

    Lastly, will tonight rain out, be rare is it did. Bet they get it in.

  5. Re: 3

    Game 2 was on the following days of the week.
    2000: Tuesday
    2001: Wednesday
    2002: Tuesday
    2003: Tuesday
    2004: Saturday
    2005: Friday
    2006: Wednesday
    2007: Saturday
    2008: Tuesday

  6. I don’t think signing Andruw Jones to a big contract would put any more “butts in the seats”. If Jones falters being tethered to a big money contract for years to come doesn’t really help you win or draw fans.

    Its interesting the Giants have made two major free agent signings in the past two years – Barry Zito and Aaron Rowland to show their fans they are “serious about winning” but have let their farm system rot – and they are by far and away the worst of the NL West.

  7. Maybe people aren’t staying away because of talk that “the Padres suck,” but rather because of the hostility that this team is displaying toward its fans with annual ticket price increases, expanded tier pricing schemes, higher concession prices and the downgrading of fan-friendly features such as the Compadres Club (it’s replacement costs $10/yr.) and the left-field wall viewing area (now sliced in half by an advertisement).

  8. I really don’t think that it is team related, CY pitched last night and he is a big draw around town I think that it has to do with 2 things, 1. Pricing and 2. the dodgers are coming into town this weekend so everyone is saving their money to see them.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with the attendance this year because the giants who are one of the padres big rivals and larger draws are going to be horrible this year and less of a draw.

  9. #3 good question. I know last years second day was a Saturday, which always out draws a Tuesday.

  10. Year Day Opponent Dif
    2000: Tues D-Backs -68.3
    2001: Weds Giants -18.2
    2002: Tues D-Backs -25.8
    2003: Tues Giants -18.0
    2004: Sat Giants +0.5
    2005: Fri Pirates -8.6
    2006: Wed Giants -45.8
    2007: Sat Rockies -8.5
    2008: Tues Astros -53.7

    Hmm thought this may help clear it up but I guess not.

  11. 5. Odd, Petco follows the weekend weekday pattern right down the line, but the horror years in Qualcom showed stronger attendance the second day, without a pattern.

    4. Undervalued players are undervalued by the fans, as well as analysts and other teams. The question is: Will this result in lower revenue, translating to lower payroll, and less talent?

  12. 10: I think it helps. Last nite’s attendance seems to be inline with second games that fall on weekdays.

    Plus, Thursday should be a decent draw as a day game.

    Question (and this is not to sound snobby): Do the changes in prices of ticket and beer make that big of a deal? I would expect the tickets might, as it might cost as much as $30 more for a family of four to come to a game this year in the same section they did last year.

    Along these lines, how do rate increases for the Padres compare to the Chargers? Does football get a pass since there is only 10% as many home games?

  13. I’ve read most of the copy on this game so far and no one is picking up on the super-obvious: Scott Hairston hit a go ahead homerun and Trevor Hoffman came in and nailed down the save. This feels like a perfect setup, like Lance Berkman was somehow on the take when he looked like an 8th grader on those two change ups. Could there be a better scenario for Hoffy to get over the mental damage of Colorado. Mud kept commenting about Hoffman’s extra velocity on the fastball, which was noticeable. There’s your reason folks. Hoffman was so pumped that in postgame he mentioned how much energy he drew from the crowd….which by the time he pitched was probably just stadium employees and GY. Things are lookin real good real early for Ted Leitner’s Padres.

  14. Re: 12 yes they do, I normally sit in the lower 300 sections which last year cost $18 per ticket, they have increased to $22 this year which is a difference of $4 a ticket. My wife likes to go to the games with me as well so I normally get 2 tickets for each game so in total there is an increase of $8 a game for me, this does not seem like much but I normally like to attend 12 to 15 games a year so over the coarse of the season its an increase of $120 for us to attend which is a big chunk out of out entertainment budget so I think we are probably going to cut it back to 8 to 10 games this year because of the increase.

    And that does not even take account the increase in concessions, which wont be to bad because we normally eat before hand but you can you go to a ball fame without peanuts or ice-cream or some kind of overpriced comfort food.

  15. Re: 14 bleh can;t type to day should read.

    How can you go to a ball game without without getting peanuts or ice-cream or some kind of overpriced comfort food.

  16. 15: I have weekend season tickets. I’ve learned to bring as much stuff into a game as possible.

    By the way, if anyone wants hot chocolate but does not want to wait for it or pay out the rear, I suggest bringing your own packets of hot chocolate mix. Any place in the park that serves coffee will give you a cup of hot water for free.

  17. It is an unfortunate situation, but from a business sense what the Padres are doing by raising prices is really smart.

    What most people are saying is that they won’t be able to do to as many games as prior years because of the increases, but no one has said yet that they won’t be going at all. It sounds like people are going to be spending about the same amount of money as they did in previous years.

    For the Padres having people pay higher prices and attend makes sense as they then have seats available and a higher possible $$ figure coming in over the course of a season.

    Hey my season tickets in LLB which my wife and I really, really like used to be very underpriced for the view they provide…..not so much any more though.

  18. #2: I’m with you; I’d like to see CY trust his secondary pitches more. I can think of at least two occasions where he kept trying to go up the ladder last night without success (Wigginton in the fourth, Cruz in the sixth).

    #4: “Same old same old” won 89 games last year. If that doesn’t put butts in the seat, then what’s to say that signing Andruw Jones does? Then again, many people like shiny things.

    #7: Yes, the perception that the team is somehow being hostile toward its fans may contribute to the problem.

    #15: I know I’m in the extreme minority here, but I do my utmost to avoid concession stands on the grounds that the product is overpriced and generally not good quality. As a consumer I have the option not to support them, and I exercise that option as much as possible. Occasionally I’ll buy something, but the vast majority of my money goes to superior establishments outside the ballpark.

  19. I’m not complaining about the price hike I understand the business behind it and over time the prices will go up that’s Economics 101. I’m not really even saying that they are overpriced, I think the $22 seats are a good deal I was just saying that it will limit the number of games I go to thie year, I’ll still support the team but it will be mostly from my living room.

  20. Re: 15 I agree with ya on that, I don’t drink so I dont need to shell out $9 for beer I eat before hand so I can avoid paying $5 for a Rubios Fish Taco but my weakness is Ice-Cream on a warm summer night.

  21. 21. From my experience, over priced poor quality concessions are standard fare at most events. I do not believe they would reflect on Padre attendance more so than any other event.

  22. I think you may also look at the general state of the economy for the drop in attendance. There is a reason the government is handing out economic stimulus checks. Gas prices are going to be $4 dollars a gallon soon, you can consider yourself lucky if you can make your mortgage payment every month and baseball games are getting pricey. I imagine that it all has an effect on things.

    I paid $100 dollars for 4 tickets friday night to see an exibition game. That’s a little much I think. Especially when I can sit at home and watch a beautiful HD game on my 50 inch plasma at no cost.


    Geoff, I think you have a hard time separating your knowledge and general love of baseball and the Padres with the average San Diego fan in terms of attendance. 89 wins is great I agree, but the average fan in San Diego doesn’t blog about the Padres all day or research the internet for game “splits” and “park effects” or “range factors” and “vorp”. The average San Diego fan sees that the Padres finished 3rd last year. The average San Diego fan reads about the rising price of beer in the paper and not about the new player that is going to put the team over the top. The average San Diego fan heard you yourself on television last week say the Padres would probably not make the playoffs this year and (I think you said) finish 3rd again.

    I think you are probably most informed and logical Padres fan I have come across but the truth is most people in San Diego don’t nerd out on the Padres as much as we all here do. I think most San Diego fans want to hear about their team having a chance to win the world series before they drive downtown and shell out good money to watch a game and nobody is telling them that.

    With all that said I totally agree with Geoff about concessions. I don’t know about other parks but I always assumed you couldn’t bring food with you. I realized a couple of seasons ago Petco allows you to bring in your own stuff. So I when we go I always stop at Giorginos or Luigi’s in Golden Hill and we have our Cheese steaks or Calzones at our seats. We still buy drinks or beer but rarely buy food.

  23. Re: 22 you can bring in food but not drinks (with the exception of water). Normaly we bring in a few bottles of water and sneak in a Soda but if the front gate people see any other drinks besides a 20oz or smaller unopened bottle of water in your bag they will make you throw it out.

  24. 23.

    Yeah I should have mentioned water only. Thanks!

  25. “My scorecard reads ’8-6 DP WTF?’”

    Hahaha! Hang onto that scorecard, GY. :)

    The attendance question is really interesting — and also very puzzling. I don’t know if a comparison of Opening Day to the next game is the best tool to use, though. I’d be willing to bet damn near every MLB team that doesn’t regularly sell out (NYY, BOS, CHC, etc.) sees a huge plummet in attendance.

  26. Marketing puts butts in seats, Geoff. Buzz about the team, the season, the potential for something great.

    From a marketing standpoint, Andrew Jones creates more buzz than Edmunds.

    Chargers are sold out because they are a good to great team with marquee players with the potential to go the SB. Thats exciting, heres $150, I want to see that, be a part of that.

    Padres have a chance at third place, that is not buzz, that is same old same old.

    I hope they do better and they might, I’m a fan. But as KRS1 says, must San Diegians are not that crazy about the Padres.

    Other factors:
    The shine is off Petco
    The shine is off the Gaslamp

  27. “People are telling me how crappy the Padres are”.

    Sad as crappy is starting Mark Hendrickson on opening day or a running a Single A short stop named Bocock to start on opening day.

    I listened with pride to the Texas Rangers pre-game show host boast about the Padres bullpen. In fact, I would guess that many *out of market * baseball shows would be filled with such praise….

    Because of their pitching, it is hardly far fetched to state that this team has the potential to win it all. Crappy ? Hardly.

  28. 27. To a lot of “fans.”

    If you win a lot of 2-1, 4-2 games, you have a crappy team.
    If you lose a lot of 10-8, 6-5 games, you have a great team that just needs another pitcher.

  29. 27: I think it is EXTREMELY far-fetched to say that the Padres have any realisyic chance of winning the World Series.

    I was born in 1969, and have lived in San Diego all my life. I’ve been a HUGE Padre fan since 1974, have four season tix, and attend at least forty of those games every year.

    Nonetheless, I’m quite certain that we aren’t winning anything this year.

  30. #26 Yeah, I guess the 2007 signing of Barry Zito or Jason Schmidt would have put more in the seats last year than the Greg Maddux signing…or the signing of the plump .222 hitting Andruw Jones would bring more excitement than Scott Hairston (who will have a much better year offensively than Jones in 2008) but the bottom line is WINNING. Winning ugly….but WINNING !!!

  31. I’d like to see what the season ticket base is. If it’s shrinking then the Padres are in real trouble. If it’s growing then I don’t think the Padres have to worry so much. I think the fact that it was the Astros plus an April night game is the reason attendance was so down last night. Who wants to sit in the cold for 3 hours to watch the Astros? Obviously not many. I’m wondering what percentage of tickets sold are to walkups on a normal non-weekend night game?

    I think I disagree that Andruw Jones would put butts in the seats. I was in favor of signing him because the other available options were so poor (although after seeing how fat he is now maybe passing on him was a good idea!) As we’ve discussed before, it might not be possible for the Padres to have a “marquee” offensive player even if they were to sign one (or develop one). The only way to build fan interest is to keep winning.

  32. #29 EXTREMELY far fetched ? Wow, the simple facts don’t back up your point. Pitching, pitching, pitching….the Pads are loaded with pitching my friend and because of this they are indeed a threat to win it all…..

    #28 – Yeah, you have the Texas Rangers.

  33. 29:

    I’m not sure how you can say that. I’m been extremely critical of some moves or non-moves the Padres have made (Jody Gerut, Kyle Lohse) but I still think they can win 85 games or so. And considering that an 83 win team won the World Series in 2006 and a team that was 64-63 on August 24th last season went to the WS, you have to think that anything is possible.

    The Padres “best-case” team is certainly good enough to win 90 plus games and if the other NL West teams stumble that could be good enough to make the playoffs. And as we’ve seen lately, once you’ve made the playoffs, past form doesn’t matter.

  34. I think one very likely answer to the drop in attendance at the second game of the season is in the title of this post: “Cold and Windy”. It’s the weather. Ask anyone who has worked in a ticket-selling function and they will tell you that walkup sales are heavily influenced by the weather. By local standards, Tuesday night was cold. Not Candlestick-in-July cold, but it was cold enough to scare off quite a few casual / last-minute customers.

    10 – if only Steve’s data included temperature and wind speed…and I don’t remember ever being as cold at the Q as I have felt in Petco a couple of times (but San Francisco is far colder).

  35. I would agree with the general sentiments that there’s no reason the Padres can’t win it all this year. Pitching is the best foundation in baseball and tends to fluctuate much less than a high-powered offense. Look at that vaunted Cubs offense. They struggled mightily on Monday.

    If the team continues to pitch well, they will always have a shot. We’ve got enough HR threats on this team that we’ve always got a shot if we’re withing three runs of the opposition.

  36. 34.

    I have a really hard time believing many people that are not toting small babies or enjoying their “Golden Years” don’t come because it’s too cold. It’s San Diego cold is relative and most people in town do actually own jackets. If you want to point to that being a reason why people don’t stay for the whole game then I think that is a fair point but it’s a little far fetched to suggest a 20,000 person drop in attendance was because it was “cold”.

  37. Alderson has said publically on 1090 and 1360 in the past 2-3 weeks that the season ticket base has gone down about 5% over the past 2 seasons. Between the raise in prices as well as the bad economy that really shouldn’t be surprising, given the Giants losing 60% of their season ticket base in that same time frame…can we really say the Padres are in serious trouble? They also sold more single game tickets the past couple years then before.

    Yeah overall though there isn’t any buzz around town about this team. Fortunately the nay sayers on this board and elsewhere not withstanding, this team could get off to a 20-6 start and you’d have a hard ticket to get all of the sudden.

  38. I honestly don’t question the Padres ability to win the West. Sure I think it will be a lot harder than it has been the past 3 or 4 years but it’s more than possible with our pitching. I still question our ability to win a playoff series. We have not shown the ability in the past to hit against teams 1 and 2 starters and that is what worries me.

  39. OT: SI’s John Donovan opines on the Pads’ CF situation:

    Nothing terribly groundbreaking in there, but a couple of decent quotes from Hairston.

    36 – the relative cold was obviously not the single reason for the drop in attendance. There are a lot of reasons:

    * Unsexy opponent – really, nobody gets fired up for the non-Clemens Astros
    * Tuesday night – usually a low attendance night to begin with
    * The bloom most likely is off the Petco rose
    * No significant giveaway, as far as I know
    * The economy; people are spending less
    * No buzz around the team. That, or the economy, might be the biggest macro factor (as opposed to a micro variable like one night of relative cold temps)

  40. 32: No team that is starting Justin Germano is “loaded” with pitching.

    On the other hand, I don’t follow Lance’s reasoning at all. The Cards and Marlins, in recent years, snuck into the playoffs and won it all. I’m confident we have long odds against us, like every team except Boston and NY, but “impossible” is impossible.

  41. I think if you are losing season tickets during a streak of unprecedented success (for the Padres) then that’s definitely a bad sign. Now maybe a 5% loss is the league norm right now so it’s not as bad as it appears. If the Padres are losing season tickets when they are winning, what happens if they have a terrible season?

  42. Good to hear a first hand acount of Hairston’s D. Of course it’s still way too early to tell, but it sure would be nice if we end up finding our solution to CF for this year with an in-house guy like Hairston.

  43. So many factors may be contributing to the drop off in attendance (as stated above). I think KRS1 is right that the biggest factor may be the state of the economy. Is this just a Padre/Petco Park effect, or is this a national downturn throughout MLB?

  44. Hoffman hears the love from fans…….11 MPH difference in change-up and fastball. I think he looked pretty darn good last night.

  45. RE 37: I was pondering this the other day…there was more buzz about the padres when they had a certain marketing guru from Baltimore…no, not Luccino, but his good buddy *I am blanking on his name, but he wore glasses, had dark hair, was a bit portly, and went to Boston with him*…

    The marketing of the Padres has been second rate since he left. That has A LOT to do with the Pads winning, but not being a consistant draw.

  46. 38: Its not just that. How many times last year did we make the #4, 5, or 6 opposing starters look like Cy Youngs? Yes in the playoffs we cant hit the “ace” but it seems like in the regular season we do fine against the ace and abysmal against terrible starters. What about Jeff Weaver?

  47. Maybe I missed it, but did y’all see the article in Arizona about the 5 nastiest pitches in baseball? Two Padres had their pitches make the list…CY’s Fastball and Trevor’s Change…

  48. 45: Their slogans each year could definitely use work. “Experience it!”

  49. 47: Interesting… i like Jake’s slider or fastball over CY’s any time as far as nastiness. Yes CY is tall, but is fastball is straight as an arrow with absolutely no movement. Is he a good pitcher, yes. Nasty, no.

  50. #22: Guilty as charged. I just wish people would bother to be more informed. It’s really not that huge of a time/effort commitment to learn what’s actually going on rather than simply aping what everyone else says.

    #26: “Padres have a chance at third place.” Yes, and so do three other teams in the NL West. Those same teams have a chance at first, second, and fourth place.

    #43: That would be a fascinating topic to study. Anyone have copious amounts of free time on their hands? ;-)