After a good start the Marlins have plummeted to last place in the NL East at 43-48 and rank dead last among MLB teams in attendance with 17,101 per game.
And that’s tickets sold, which as I learned while attending games at Dodger Stadium a couple times last week can be incredibly misleading.
With no fans to fill the seats the Marlins have decided to simply close off the entire upper deck in Sun Life Stadium, with spokesman P.J. Loyello telling Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that “it was an operational decision” and “we don’t sell a whole lot of upper deck seats.”
This way the Marlins won’t have to actually hire ushers or security officers or anyone else to watch over the empty sections and the few fans who have upper deck season tickets will be “upgraded” to better seats, which they were probably already doing on their own unofficially each game.
I realize the Marlins closing off entire sections of their ballpark because no one sits there is prime joke material, but they’re actually not the first team to do so. Back when the Twins were still in the Metrodome they covered the worst seats in right field with a giant white (and eventually brownish-white from dirt) sheet that formed a makeshift tent over the empty seats and also had pictures of the players with their numbers retired. And there are other examples too.
Dodger Stadium might have followed suit, except the team couldn’t afford the white sheet. Rimshot?
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.