There are a lot of hardcore Jays fans from coast to coast – there’s no doubt about that. If you rounded up each and every diehard fan and built a city for them, and then relocated the Jays to that city, the numbers at the gate would be a lot higher than USA Today reported . If this city existed in Canada – packed with baseball loving hosers – and the Jays only won 50-games, they would still lead the league in attendance. But this fictitious city, populated entirely by Jays fans, clearly doesn’t exist.
I’m sure many of you have already read that the Jays lead the league in declining attendance with an egregious drop off of 33%. It sounds pretty bad, but it’s really not that bad at all though. I probably don’t need to use a dumb word like egregious to describe it. And to be honest with you, I’ve never really liked that word to begin with, so I’m not sure why the hell I’m using it.
Anyway, the Jays attendance was terrible in April, which was highlighted in big, red letters by USA Today. Rogers, Mark Shapiro and company are seeing the biggest losses to date, as the average attendance has dipped from 27,142 to 20,451, which considering the whole ‘rebuild’ thing – isn’t too bad at all if you really think about it. It could be a lot worse. The Jays could be Tampa, or Miami, but I’m not saying it can’t get that bad. It can get that bad.
Miami is pulling in just under 10,000 fans a game, which makes sense because trading away every star player isn’t going to help the economical situation of a franchise. However, the Rays, who as of today have the third best record in all of baseball, have drawn crowds of less than 10,000. Baseball in Florida? You’d think that it would work. Could you imagine if the Jays were off to a start like the Rays? Charlie Montoyo has been running out lineups like this all of April:
These are Sogard’s Jays now pic.twitter.com/GuxD6E8ZFZ
— Ryan D (@RyanDifrancesco) April 23, 2019
Yet the organization has still managed to draw close to 20,000 people through the gates, even though the Raptors and Leafs were doing their playoff things. Now, I’m not coming to the defence of the Jays front office here because it’s definitely not a good thing that the organization is leading the ‘pack of bad’ in this year’s MLB attendance drop. But, I don’t think it’s as terrible as some people are reporting.
Here’s the Business 101 thing though: the Philadelphia Phillies, who weren’t cowards and actually signed Bryce Harper, are averaging 37,280 fans, which USA Today reported is a 44% gain over the average of 25,811 to this point last year. Imagine that, eh? Trying to win actually brings fans to the park.
If the Jays would have signed Bryce Harper, the attendance at the gate would have increased this year. And a lot of money would’ve been made off of Harper jerseys, as well. I’m not turning this article into a ‘should the Jays have signed Bryce Harper piece’ because that can was kicked down the road all winter long. I’m just sayin’ for the sake of sayin’ that when a team actually tries to win, they make money and attendance goes up. And a lineup that would have featured Harper, Vlad, and Stroman, would have sold more tickets. Never mind the fact that it would’ve been great to have a future roster that featured Bichette, Biggio, Vlad, and Harper, too.
I know that the front office has come out and said that this year is a ‘rebuilding’ year, but if the organization decides to move on from players like Stroman, Sanchez, and Smoak, things are going to get bleak – fast. If you subtract Stroman and Sanchez, the 2020 rotation is going to have about as much meat as a backyard vegan summer BBQ party – if such a thing actually exists. I think the only way that the front office should move Stroman is if they can fleece an organization the way the Rays did when they traded Archer. And I just don’t see that happening.
So, if the organization does move on from Stroman, Sanchez, and Smoak, the Jays still kind of need to win baseball games and I’m not sure how they plan on doing that. There is nothing fun about 50 to 60 win seasons over the next three years. There would be nothing worse than this team competing only in the tail end of Vlad’s arbitration years. There would be nothing worse for Vlad to play in front of a ghost town at the Rogers Centre. And there is no reason for that to happen.
I’ve said this before and I will say it again, the Jays have more than enough money to extend certain players and add to the roster via free agency. The organization has enough prospect capital to make some future trades that present themselves, too. If the Jays front office decides to tank hard, that 20,000 attendance average will drop down to Tampa Bay and Miami territory. And they’re only a Stroman trade away from that happening.
The Toronto fanbase loves to run to the baseball gates when the team is winning and that is a good thing. But, if this rebuild is going to take longer than it should, that 33% drop in attendance will hit 50% – and I’m not being hyperbolic. I’m just being realistic. So far in 2019, 12 MLB teams are suffering losses at the gate and the Jays lead the pack. And believe me, right now it’s not that bad at all. Averaging 20,000 fans in April is actually pretty good considering what the Jays roster has looked like during this ‘rebuild’ year. But, that number could dramatically fall egregiously. And when I say ‘egregiously’ – I mean it.