Incredibly, there are still some people out there who are sticking to a very tired and pathetic argument that Washington didn't deserve a major league team. They don't show up very often anymore, but when they do, their diatribes are no less tiresome.
A caller to this past Saturday's "Wall-to-Wall Baseball," the show I appear on with Tom Davis and Dave Johnson every Saturday on MASN, came up with the latest flimsy offering.
"When I saw how poorly that San Diego, a first-place team, drew a couple of weeks ago," he said, "that's all the proof I needed that Washington's a terrible baseball town."
Really? Well, let's see here - the Padres came to town for a weeknight series July 6, 7 and 8 and drew an average crowd of 15,021. Okay. Not great, admittedly, but the Padres offer somewhat less than a star-studded roster, and the Nationals are still a fifth place team.
But, for comparison's sake, how well have the Padres drawn otherwise this year on weeknights? A three-game, weeknight, interleague series in Tampa in June averaged 17,445 with both teams in first place. A home series against division rival Colorado on May weeknights averaged 16,167.
What can be proven by all of these numbers? Pretty much nothing. As August gets underway, the San Diego Padres, despite their lofty status, haven't drawn big crowds anywhere, even in their own ballpark. San Diego is 19th overall in MLB with a home crowd average of 25,659. The Nationals, well under .500, are 22nd overall with a home average of 24,589. You can do the math yourself: it's a difference of 1,070 fans per game.
I've brought this up a zillion times over the years, but I guess I'll do it again. Sports marketers - professionals in matters such as this - use a fans-per-victory ratio to determine market viability in many cases. That is, logically, the more games you win, the more tickets you'll sell, and vice versa. A good team will always outdraw a bad one in the same market. It doesn't take a genius to peruse the attendance figures for some teams and deduce that some markets are more viable than others, and Washington is a sleeping giant. If you're going to question anyone's viability - beyond the obvious ones in Florida - look at San Diego.
How about Baltimore? When the Orioles were competitive, seats at Camden Yards were one of the toughest tickets in town. Now, not so much, but I have no doubt the fans will return big-time when the Birds get back to over .500 status.
If you don't believe Washington's a big league town, well, that's too bad. The people who make their living determining such things don't agree with you, and in the next couple of years, you'll see what they're talking about.