MLB: 10 Worst Baseball Cities in the United States
Part of the thrill of going to see your home team play ball is the atmosphere in which you see them do it in.
This game drew a fantastically vibrant, excited crowd of 46,000. I have to admit that—even while getting to see Doc pitch in the Rogers Center again—it wouldn't have been the same experience had the fans not shown up.
That is more or less what this is all about.
When the fans don't care enough about the team and whether it's winning or losing, the team shouldn't be there.
This isn't always the fault of the people in the city, as they sometimes are preoccupied with much more traditionally suitable sports.
I used attendance as a base factor for this list and went on to analyze the city itself and other sports teams who share the city, making it an inhospitable environment for baseball.
Without further adieu, here are 10 cities with unappreciated baseball teams and the need to have them moved.
10. Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians ranked 30th worst in average attendance in 2010 and is currently 24th.
That's a sad fan base if I've ever seen one.
The Tribe enjoyed one of its best starts to a season in 2011 and was battling for the top spot in the AL Central for most of it.
In this sudden rise to the top of the standings, fans were nowhere to be found. Even when Cleveland made several bold moves before the trade deadline—one of them resulting in the acquisition of Ubaldo Jimenez—the shortage of fans remained.
It's no wonder the Tribe couldn't keep its production going for the length of the season. It's hard to stay motivated when no one cares about what you're doing.
The Cavaliers are the team of Cleveland, and them being in the top five for average attendance since 2008, things don't look to be changing.
9. Washington Nationals
I'd be embarrassed if he was part of my fan base.
The Washington Nationals, although they have been recognized as up-and-coming contenders and boast two of the biggest prospects ever, can't seem to fill the seats.
The Nats ranked 24th worst in the MLB in 2009, 23rd in 2010 and are currently 21st.
While there have been improvements over the last three seasons, they are minimal, and the difference between 2009 and 2011 is a mere 2000 people.
When you're only filling about half of the stadium to begin with, 2000 isn't a very impressive improvement.
Washington will continue to hold dear to its allegiance to the Redskins, who's stadium has been roughly 93 percent filled since 2008, fighting for the No. 1 spot the entire time.
8. Seattle Mariners
When there aren't even enough fans to hold the signs for the team's multi-talented rookie, you have a problem.
The Seattle Mariners have been struggling to get out of the basement of the American League West for years now, and you can bet a half-filled stadium (on a busy night) doesn't give them much motivation to improve.
SafeCo. Field has been less than half full for the majority of 2011, a significant decrease from still only 54 percent in 2010.
The Seahawks make up for the vacant seats at SafeCo. Field, though, as they sold out CenturyLink Field for every home game last season.
7. Baltimore Orioles
Even the people who do come to the stadium are ashamed of the home team.
Baltimore has finished in the bottom five worst teams in Major League Baseball since 2005. It's not poised to finish any better in the near future, and the people of Baltimore know it.
Orioles fans have filled a microscopic 45 percent of Camden Yards in 2011, and as they currently sit at No. 28 in the MLB rankings, I don't expect to see it sold out for a very long time.
The "provincial bird" of Baltimore has always been the Raven.
The Ravens have been selling out all of their home games for years, and the fans love them—due in large part to the two future hall of famers on their defense.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona came out of the woodwork in 2011 and have officially buried the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants in the National League West standings en route to a playoff spot.
Ironically, the Diamondbacks will be lightly considered being quite similar to the Giants team of last year, simply for the fact that they entered the season with less-than-high hopes for a World Series.
Chase Field, in spite of the admirable success of the Diamondbacks this season, has been just over half full in 2011.
The desert is a better facilitator of football, I suppose, as the Cardinals have enjoyed an almost full stadium for the last few years and have garnered quite a loving fan base since their Super Bowl appearance in 2009.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have been similar to the Cleveland Indians this season, rising above the crop to the upper echelons of their divisions unexpectedly, and falling back into their traditional ways of mediocrity (at best).
On this day in September, the Bucs are 13 games below .500 and 18 games out of a playoff spot.
With its burst of talent and production, Pittsburgh began filling PNC National Park 12 percent more in 2011; based off of their recent free fall back to the basement of the division, however, Pittsburgh citizens will have to go back to exclusively loving each other—as these two are—and not their city's not-so-beloved ball club.
I mean, I like Andrew McCutchen as much as the next guy, but when your city is home to one of the best hockey players to ever lace up, you're allegiance will automatically be to the Penguins.
Its no wonder they're sold out all the time.
4. Houston Astros
Houston, Texas is not known for its baseball but—perhaps more so than anywhere else—for its football.
Texas, in general, is home to "America's" football team—the Dallas Cowboys. It also claims one of the most storied College teams in the nation, the Texas Longhorns, as well as the Houston Texans.
While the Houston Astros manage to fill over 60 percent of their stadium on a nightly basis, more so than a lot of the teams on this list, it just isn't a baseball city.
Even the Rockets filled over 90 percent of the arena in most of their home games.
It also doesn't help their cause that they are consistently one of the worst teams in baseball. With another basement finish—and a potentially momentous year in the making for the Houston Texans—the little fan ship that the 'Stros do have will dwindle even more.
3. Florida Marlins
This was an easy one.
The Florida Marlins, based out of Miami, are one of the last things on the minds of Miami residents in regards to sports.
With the new triple-barrelled shotgun being employed by the Miami Heat (you couldn't have forgotten about "The Decision" already!), the Heat have become one of the biggest and best things the state of Florida has to offer.
Selling out their stadium at every home game, the Heat averaged just under 20,000 fans per game.
This happens to be slightly more than 1,000 more fans than the Marlins saw at each home game, in a stadium roughly half the size.
A new stadium in Miami is under construction for the Marlins, who don't seem to have any plans to attract more fans as it will have the third smallest capacity of all Major League teams.
Jeffrey Loria continues to ship away his most talented players—with the exception of his claim-to-fame shortstop Hanley Ramirez—and is seemingly only interested in the well being of his bankbook, as opposed to his baseball club.
As long as Loria holds the reins in Miami, don't expect to see any significant increases in the fan base.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
One of the most curious cases in baseball for me has always been why the Tampa Bay Rays would have a closed-roof stadium in one of the most beautiful climates in the country.
If you want to draw fans to a baseball game in 90-100 degree weather, it gives them a lot more incentive to come if they know they won't be cooped up in a closed stadium (unless of course the weather actually is 100, in which case a retractable roof would be ideal).
I don't want to speak for the citizens of Tampa Bay, but if I lived there, I would want the gorgeous weather to be part of the game.
While they have had a run of success in the previous few years, the Rays have had trouble filling their stadium and have sat in the bottom of the attendance rankings since 2009.
The Rays have potential to be the marquis franchise of Tampa Bay—as neither the NFL's Buccaneers or NHL's Lightning have enjoyed sell-out attendance—but in my opinion, they need to do something about that roof.
If they aren't careful, the Tampa Bay fan base could soon be accounted for by the up-and-coming force of the Lightning, and their young sparkplug Steven Stamkos.
1. Oakland Athletics
When MC Hammer is signing bobbleheads at your stadium, something is wrong.
Oakland is the worst baseball city in the United States.
After ranking 30th, 29th and 30th in 2009, 2010, and 2011, respectively, the Oakland A's continue to be the laughing stocks of baseball.
While I'm sure many factors come into play when analyzing the immutable, embarrassing attendance records, the first thing that comes to my mind is Moneyball.
Sorry, Billy Beane, but if you're gonna fill your roster with a ragtag group of misfits for exploiting one of baseball's many inefficiencies, the fans will have a much harder time remembering why they buy tickets to come see you.
I'm aware that Oakland's payroll prevents them from being able to throw frivolously constructed contracts at big named free agents every year, but the money Beane saves on his infamous Moneyball strategy should maybe be put into developing a sturdier fan base.
Some of the best players to swing a bat or throw a pitch have passed through Oakland. If only the team could keep one or two, fans may begin to see reasons to come watch some baseball.
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