Quickly, dirtily, unscientifically, I'm going to make a statement: attendance is down in baseball. In some cities, like Cleveland, Baltimore, and Toronto, this is absolutely true. Anecdotally it seems true in at least a dozen other stadiums around the league. Beat writers flock to Twitter to proclaim "tonight's crowd is lowest in Stadium X's history" on a near-nightly basis. Poor attendance at major league baseball games is certainly a bad thing — especially if you own a professional baseball team or professional parking lot staffed by professional parking lot pointing-at-guys — but how about we all agree to stop using sparsely attended baseball games as indictments of residents and fans from entire regions of the country.
The next time YOUR CITY in the great state of YOUR STATE is deemed a "bad sports town" or "bush league" or "crippled by sweeping unemployment" let's try to resist the urge to use nearly-empty baseball stadia as proof the city is unfit for baseball or human occupation.
Consider the three cities listed above, among the stragglers in average attendance in 2010. No fancy pants ball parks, recent successes, nor Red Sox Nation invasions can fill the buildings early in the season. "But why?" the columns wail. How could the good people of Metropolis turn their back on the local nine? Why have real baseball fans eschewed a night at the old ball yard?
Most families aren't going to baseball games or NBA games or any such expensive outing. They're priced and corporate-cultured out in a tough economic time. Additionally, families now have a laundry list of classes, recitals, ultimate frisbee tournaments in far-flung suburbs and about a million others things to do on a Tuesday night in April beside watch Jake fucking Westbrook pitch to Lyle Overbay.
Expect to see more bros getting tazed than iced at the ballpark in the coming months; as clubs look to provide the whitewashed, sterile environment most likely to appeal to Mr. & Mrs. Helicopterparent's most paranoid instincts. Little Ethan and Abigail can't be withing vomitshot of drunken louts1 cursing loudly and carrying on.
1 - Keep them the hell away from Pittsburgh in August.