This entire article stems from Internet fisticuffs on a Cincinnati Reds message board. The topic was Sunday’s last-minute MLB waiver deal that sent Jonathan Broxton to the Milwaukee Brewers. I was saying that while trading Broxton was all well-and-good, the Reds would have been smarter waiting until the end of the season to shop Aroldis Chapman.
Some Poindexter chimed in and said, “No way, Chapman draws fans.”
My initial thought was, as per usual, “What a perfect world this would be if all humans shared my brain.” Then I thought a little deeper, and realized that I may as well be speaking with a member of Reds’ upper-management because this is the exact attitude that’s placed the team in such financial shackles.
Reds fans don’t buy tickets thinking, “I am going to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game because I really enjoy that Aroldis Chapman fellow.” Sure, that’s part of the equation, but ultimately fans just want a winning team. Which, at this point in Cincinnati’s season, renders a Chapman appearance totally irrelevant as far as gate revenue is concerned.
The Reds’ last series against the Chicago Cubs averaged 20,431 fans per game, and was the second-to-least poorly attended three-game set of the season, the first being a frigid and rainy mid-April series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Prior to the series finale, a Wednesday afternoon game, weather forecasters were proclaiming rain so severe, one would likely drown if they ventured outdoors. I remember it well because I was suppose to be there. Of course, the day turned out beautiful and I missed a Johnny Cueto three-hit shutout.
Last season, the the Reds played a three-gamer against the Brewers from Aug. 23-25, the closest dates to the recent Cubs series. Going into those three games against Brewers, the Reds held a record of 73-56. The team was playing like a group of winners and the games were attended as such, averaging 33,801 per game. Or 13,370 more than the 2014 Chicago series. In three games, the total loss of 40,110 is almost exactly the size of Great American Ball Park at full capacity.
Winning teams draw gate, and players draw cheers. Unless the dude is chasing a record or getting close to a big milestone, the idea that an individual baseball player will draw bigger crowds than winning teams is pure myth. If you don’t believe that or have some sort of inquiring inner-dialogue, I wish I could share a small chunk of my brain with you.