Now that everyone has an opinion that can be read on the screens of computers and phones these days, there’s a lot of fan insecurity going on. Fans who’ve dealt with tough losses through the years can’t hide their disdain when it comes to “bandwagon fans.” Fans from the east coast paint the picture of the west coast baseball fan as an apathetic wine snob who’d rather attend an art gallery opening than a baseball game. West coast fans wail about “east coast bias.” With the taunts and accusations being lobbed back and forth by Giants and Phillies fans, it was almost a breath of fresh air to for Giants supporters to know they’d be facing the grateful Rangers instead of the spoiled villains from the Bronx.
Then you read this article from the Dallas-Ft. Worth SB Nation site, which includes this:
The Giants don’t seem to have a lot of star power, but some of that is probably playing in a lacking baseball market on the west coast.
(Cain) has a boring repertoire mostly revolving around a low-90s fastball and mid-80s changeup.
(Jonathan) Sanchez is a solid lefty offering for the middle of the rotation. In the American League, he’d probably be fairly mediocre.
And (I know, I know, almost finished) this:
The NL is just not as good as the AL, plain and simple. The hits the Rangers get are against stronger rotations, the strikeouts their pitchers get are against stronger lineups. It’s a difficult thing to account to, but any comparison between the two teams that doesn’t try underrates the Rangers chances. Over the last three (once through the cycle) years, the AL has a .558 record in interleague play. Over the last six years (twice through), it has a .563 record. So expecting the average AL to go from .500 to .560, improving from 81-81 to 91-71, if they changed leagues is probably pretty reasonable. You can also seeÂ some work done at Beyond the Boxscore here on league quality differences, reinforcing nearly a 60% difference in true talent record between AL and NL teams through the last interleague cycle. However, this year, the difference was closer to 30%. In the interest of playing it somewhat conservative, I decided to split the difference between the two numbers. That may be underrating the NL by little bit, but it also may be overrating it by a little bit.
Let’s forget about the way Cain and Sanchez are swept under the rug as if they’re the latest version of Mike LaCoss and Atlee Hammaker. This kind of analysis from a Rangers blog demonstrates the same level of hypocrisy Phillies fans demonstrated last series, just in a different way. Philadelphia fans are very, very sensitive to being stereotyped as a bunch of fans who boo their own players (or the “booing Santa Claus” anecdote, which drives them crazy), cheer when opponents get injured, chuck batteries at players and yell vulgar and homophobic slurs at people when they aren’t puking on them. Then they spend an entire series whistling at Tim Lincecum and his hair (or was it his butt?) and making fun of all the hippie stoners around here who care more about that amazing bottle of old vine zinfandel from 2006 than Buster Posey’s WAR.
The Rangers, if this SB Nation blogger’s opinion can be considered a fair gauge of their thoughts on the Bay Area, think we’re even lamer than Philadelphia, New York, Boston or any other east coast city thinks we are. “A lacking baseball market”???? Isn’t this coming from an area that has several high school football teams that outdraw the Rangers on a per-game basis? (Sorry, cheap shot, and one which isn’t always true.)
The truth is, this baseball market can only be considered “lacking” if you focus on the Oakland A’s, whose ownership group is actively creating apathy to prove the point that they should be in San Jose. That’s right, this lacking market has two teams to support, and the one this Rangers fan is probably basing this statement on was the team that came in second place in the most boring divisional race ever (c’mon, tell me one thing about the AL West race this season besides Ken Griffey Jr. taking a nap and Kendry Morales tearing his ACL while celebrating … I’m waiting … time’s up).
So how do you decide what the best baseball markets are? Since the story I’m referencing/ripping is very stats-heavy in its analysis of the Rangers, Giants, and how amazingly righteously awesome the American League is compared to the crappy National League, let’s go with numbers. How about attendance, TV ratings and radio ratings?
The Giants have crushed the Rangers in home attendance since Pac Bell Park opened, but to be fair let’s ignore the first five years.Â The Giants averaged over 40,000 per game every year from 2000-04, but there was still that new-park-smell back then (mmmm, garlicky…) and the Giants were consistently in the playoffs or at least in the hunt, while the Rangers were dealing with the A-Rod disaster. Perhaps not a fair comparison.
However, if you check out the handy little chart on the right I created, you’ll see that the Giants drew 8,908 more fans per game over the last five seasons. If you take those 8,908 fans and say they go to A’s games instead (which is kind of how it was before the Giants’ new home opened), you have two teams in this market that draw as well as the Rangers do.
Oh, and Mr. AL might want to explain why the league average attendance is higher every season in the NL than the AL. Probably because NL fans are totally into mediocre pitchers with boring repertoires, I’m guessing.
TV and radio ratings are a bit trickier to find, since I don’t have a subscription to the main publication that provides these numbers (I’m waiting on a trial subscription to get accepted — fingers crossed!). So we’re going to go a little anecdotal here with the help of this article from July. In July, it was announced that the Giants had a 3.48 rating on CSN Bay Area in the first half of the 2010 season (87,118 households), while Texas had a 2.66 rating on FS Southwest (67,681 households). I tried searching for like 15 minutes until giving up — I couldn’t find the final Texas cable ratings for 2010. CSN Bay Area’s Giants ratings, however, increased to a final rating of 4.22 by the end of the year (approximately 105,500 households). Since they started out lower, it’s doubtful Texas’ ratings leapfrogged the Giants’ over the last few months.
As for radio, all I could find was these charts to the left. And, no Texas to be found.
This may seem like a lot of work to prove that what a Rangers fan on a Dallas-Ft. Worth blog said about this area being a crappy baseball market is nonsense. But it’s worth it, because this whole idea that we’re like a foggier San Diego, Atlanta or Miami when it comes to sports knowledge and dedication to the local teams is, as Veronica Corningstone would call it, total bologna.
Yes, on Friday nights more Bay Area residents go out to restaurants, bars and clubs than to watch their local high school quarterback run the option. But more fans watch baseball, attend baseball games and listen to them on the radio than in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Sure, the Rangers have that whole antler/claw thing (which is frighteningly similar to the “Rally Monkey” situation we had to deal with back in 2002), but Giants fans already have animal themes like pandas and water buffaloes to go along with more risque good luck charms like rally thongs, women wearing fake beards, and pitchers dropping eff-bombs on TV.
Just because the east coast has deemed this series unwatchable doesn’t mean we’re finished hearing dismissive comments about the Giants and/or their fans. They play in a crappy league. They don’t have a good DH. Their pitchers didn’t have to face awesome AL hitters like Adrian Beltre, Luke Scott, David Ortiz and Shin-Soo Choo, who all finished in the top 10 in AL OPS. My lord, such talent disparity!
You can turn stats around to say whatever you want, depending on the stats you use and how you weigh them. However, to call a market “lacking” when there’s absolutely no statistical evidence to back it up, especially from an area that collectively hopped on their team’s bandwagon as recently as Rangers fans have, can’t be tolerated. It’s one thing hearing from Phillies fans about how soft we are, but from a football-centric area that just got to their first World Series? Please.
Don’t mess with Texas? Don’t play with the Bay.