Should WNST shoulder some of the blame for the O’s woes?

May 12, 2007 | Drew Forrester

This morning on The Comcast Morning Show, I brought up the 2007 Orioles attendance figures after the first 20 home games of the season.

I made a self-pledge back in late March that I wouldn’t talk about the team’s attendance until at least 1/4 of the home schedule had been completed.  I wanted to give the club time to get the season underway, time for the iffy April weather to blow out of town and, naturally, it’s only fair to judge the team’s attendance based somewhat on their first month’s play.

So, with Thursday night’s 11-6 win over Tampa Bay, the O’s improved to 12-8 at home and it was time to talk attendance on Friday morning’s show.

I merely stated the facts.  After 20 home games, THIS year, the team has sold 455,000 tickets.  After 20 home games LAST season, the club had sold 492,000 tickets.  That’s a difference of 37,000 tickets sold.  If that math is duplicated over the rest of the season, that’s a ticket-sales deficit of 148,000 between ’06 and ’07.  Keep in mind, here, we’re talking tickets SOLD (as the announced attendance figures at each game) not bodies in seats.  There’s no way to know what THOSE numbers are…but I’d bet every Chinese lunch I could eat in a year that this year’s bodies-in-seats number through 20 home games is less than last year’s bodies-in-seats number through 20 games.

I then asked the $64,000 question of the morning:  “Why is the attendance down already after just 20 home games?”

Tom in Catonsville chimed in with his reasoning and it’s the spark that lit this (b)log tonight.

He said, “Hey, Drew, did you ever stop to think that maybe WNST is partially to blame for the attendance drop-off?  The way you guys criticize them every day on the air has probably led a lot of people to stop going, don’t you agree?”

So I thought about Tom’s call throughout much of the afternoon.  He WAS serious, by the way.  There was no giggle in his voice when he asked that question.  He wasn’t being facetious or trying to be sarcastic in any way.  He feels as if WNST has contributed to the attendance drop-off with our “bashing” – as he called it.  But throughout the day, today, I thought about Tom’s call.  And it came to me…I’ll just present the evidence that I have in front of me and leave it up to you, the listeners/readers.

You tell me who’s to blame for the attendance drop-off after you read this:

WNST didn’t fire Davey Johnson after he led the O’s to a pair of consecutive playoff appearances, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t remove the word “Baltimore” from the team’s official logo in 1995, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t finish in 4th place in the American League East for 9 straight seasons, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t hire Lee Mazilli, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t sign Omar Daal, Russ Ortiz and Rick Helling, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t have the chance to put the word “Baltimore” back on the team’s road uniform for 13 straight years, the Orioles did (not).

WNST didn’t fail to retire Elrod Hendricks’ jersey #44, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t create a new broadcasting partnership that restricts player and management access to the fans, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t raise ticket prices for the Yankees and Red Sox games, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t have one of its players test positive for illegal steroids, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t let the O’s manager and players live in other parts of the world in the off-season and thereby neglect their P.R. and marketing duties in the city in which they make their living, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t instruct its radio and TV personnel to refer to the team only as “the Orioles” and refrain from using the word Baltimore in association with the team name, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t lie to Rick Maase of The Baltimore Sun about Drew Forrester’s 2006 season press credential, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t try and utilize a “2-man GM team” (despite the fact that no other team in MLB has created such roles in their team) the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t tell a local newspaper that one of the main reasons they haven’t won in 9 years is due to “bad luck”, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t agree to the new collective bargaining agreement that allows MLB players to participate in no more than six (6) personal appearances for the team, per-year, the Orioles did.

WNST didn’t say that Houston’s Roy Oswalt isn’t worth $14 million per-season because he “only plays every 5th day”, the Orioles did.

I’ve got more…but I think you get the point by now, right?

Have a great weekend!