ROUNDING THE BASES…
FIRST: This not a May version of April Fools’ Day.
The Pirates’ attendance for April 2019 shows that the PNC Park fan total was up by 2,598 more than last April.
According to “Baseball Reference,” the average crowd of 14,967 is 2,598 larger than a year ago. The cross-state Phillies made the biggest gain in number of fans this April compared with April 2018 was 11,326 more.
The Pirates were second among MLB’s 30 teams.
This statistic is the perfect illustration that stats can be twisted to “prove” almost anything.
A closer examination reveals it’s not necessarily a positive point.
You might remember that April 2018 was the wettest in forever, and there were more cancellations of major league baseball games in April 2028 than there were in the entirety of the 2017 season.
Second, Pirates fans were determined to show management their disapproval of the team’s shipping out Andrew McCutchen (who appeared on the rosters of four different teams’ in 2018) and Gerrit Cole (who didn’t want to be in Pittsburgh and will almost assuredly be gone from Houston by this time next year).
And they made their point all season long: Tickets sold for PNC Park in 2018 totaled 1,465,316, the lowest yearly attendance for the Bucs since 1996. And, remember, “attendance” figures are actually “tickets sold” figures, not the number of those tickets that are used. So, the number of fans’ fannies in PNC Park was even lower than the announced figure, which was almost one million fewer than the nearly 2.5 million total in 2015.
Two factors buoyed the April 2019 total.
First, the Pirates mounted a four-month, driven Opening Day sales campaign that was unprecedented in its unforgiving blitz. A daily sales pitch to buy, buy, buy led the team to call the home opener a sellout (37,336), but maybe 30,000 were there.
Second, the second game of the season was Buck Night, with thousands of tickets sold for $1 each (23,954).
As a result, the team started out with more than 61,000 for the first two games. But four of the last five April home games drew about 9,000 each.
Their average attendance puts them at 27th among MLB’s 30 teams, ahead of only Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Miami.
SECOND: Have you ever noticed that AT&T SportsNet continuously shows the name and stats of the pitcher, but only displays the name and stats of the batter once for about five seconds for each at-bat. This was especially infuriating during the spring, when everyone except the peanut vendor in section 30 comes to bat.
As my wife points out, other teams show batter and pitcher lines both. Why can’t Pittsburgh?
THIRD: Pitcher Jameson Taillon recently tweeted that a “fan” had confronted him. “Never in my life did I think I would get called a Bum in the waiting room for a CT Scan (just my usual checkups). Anyway, when you have your health, you have everything!”
To call this person an idiot would be an insult to idiots.
If you can find 24 other “bums” like Taillon, please sign them up immediately. Any team would be lucky to have one Jameson Taillon. To have 24 others would be a dream come true.
HOME: Now in its ninth season of raising funds to support the Prader-Willi Syndrome program at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, “Wins for Kids” donations from fans will earn one of three incentives.
Donors of $35 will receive a “Wins for Kids” snow globe autographed by manager Clint Hurdle. Donors of $1 for every Pirates win during the 2019 regular season receive the snow globe and an autographed Hurdle baseball; donors of $5 for every Pirate win receive the snow globe and baseball plus an autographed bat from a current Pirates player or coach.
Donors of $1,000 or more receive all three items plus a meet and greet with Hurdle prior to a 2020 game at PNC Park.
JIM SANKEY is a baseball columnist for The Allied News.