We’re one-third through the season and the Marlins are on pace for their best record since the World Series team in 2003, yet their solid play after an offseason full of big spending and moving into a new ballpark haven’t boosted the team’s attendance nearly as much as hoped.
Through 29 home games the Marlins have averaged 28,019 fans at their new $515 million ballpark. That represents a solid 47 percent increase compared to last season, but the Marlins still rank just 16th among MLB teams in average attendance, behind sub-.500 teams like the Rockies, Twins, Tigers, and Cubs and even trailing the rival Braves whose fans are often maligned for not showing up in droves.
Good team, exciting players, new manager, huge payroll increase, $515 million supposedly state-of-the-art new ballpark … and 16th in attendance. Maybe the Home Run Sculpture is just scaring people away?
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.