Tipping Pitches: Sports: Lucky Mustache Won't Prevent Attacks from Defensive Rockies Fans


Friday, October 2, 2009

Sports: Lucky Mustache Won't Prevent Attacks from Defensive Rockies Fans

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If you haven't already read Part Ib. about the Lucky Mustache, please do so now.  I'll wait...

So, this is the entry that actually got people fired up.  Unfortunately, not actually within the comments section that could actually do me some good.  But I'll take it.

My point, in a nutshell:
Rockies fans, by nature, are not a loyal or rabid fan base.  They cannot prevent this.  Before 1993, they had a minor league team, but that's it.  There is a very short history of baseball in the state.  Therefore, the only fans that the Rockies have either 1) grew up with the team, 2) converted when the franchise arrived (thereby underlining their propensity to disloyalty), or 3) were casual fans without any allegiance.
I realize this is a tough pill for Rockies fans to swallow.  But I don't know how you battle that.  It's simply true.  I do not see how such a fan can ever experience the pain of losing or satisfaction of success that a fan of other established baseball towns or states can.  

All teams need bandwagon fans.  They just do.  Some fans -- the lifetime, loyal fan -- isn't going anywhere.  The team can win, team can lose, it does not matter.  They will attend games.  They will buy merchandise.  They will support their team.  This, in almost all cases, is a minority.

The problem, however, is how do you establish yourself as such a fan?  How do you define it?  Can someone who has switched loyalties ever be considered a loyal fan?  Can someone who was a casual fan for half of their lives ever feel the pain that, for example, a Cubs fan feels every year?

The best fan bases have a larger percentage of these "possibly unhealthy" fans.  They probably care too much.  It affects their well-being.  They are depressed when things aren't going well.  They can't sleep during high stress times of the season.  And they are absolutely crushed during tough games.  I know.  I'm one of them.

Do the Rockies have some of these fans?  Sure they do.  But to be initiated into such a level of fandom, do they qualify?  And if we can acknowledge that some do, wouldn't it be more than likely that there are fewer rabid Rockies fans than there are Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, even Brewers fans?

It's not meant as an attack on Rockies fans, and I know some see it that way.  It's not fair to attack something that is out of one's control.  The Rockies will develop a stronger, more loyal fan base, assuming they continue to survive.  Winning helps.

And this is absolutely a key.  If the Brewers didn't go to the World Series in 1982, would I be a loyal Brewers fan?  It's possible I wouldn't be.  But that experience was very important to my development as a baseball fan.

Losing helps, too.  Or at least it helps define a truly loyal fan.  Other than the fact that it's seen as "hip" to be a Cubs fan, it's the losing that separates them from most other fan bases.  All they experience is pain.  Yet they always sell out.  They always sell a ton of merchandise.  They always have some of the most rabid fans.

The Brewers were one of the worst franchises in all of baseball through the '90s and early 00's.  Maybe the worst.  The minority of rabid fans kept the team alive, but attendance will inevitably suffer when you lose 100 games. 

Could a team like the Rockies sustain such a stretch?  I don't know.  It all comes down to the strength of that minority.

How many rabid Rockies fans do you know?  The true test is, do you know any rabid Rockies fans outside of Colorado?  And what percentage within the state could be labeled as such?

Eric with the lucky mustache shared the article and got a lot of response.  Good, healthy response, but not surprisingly a lot of response from Rockies fans.  One of the arguments pointed to attendance:
Milwaukee is 9th in attendance this year, Colorado is 11th, but since you really like Milwaukee, we Rockies fans aren't hard-core enough?
Let's start here.  I don't know if attendance is necessarily a great barometer when it comes to the Rockies.   This area is littered with transplants.  Coors Field is a great place to watch a baseball game.  If you've been to Coors, you'll know what I mean.  Lots of opposing fans, laid back atmosphere.  People are simply there to enjoy some baseball.  How many of those fans really care about the Rockies?

But if you want to use the argument of attendance, we can go there.  The Brewers, who are five games under .500 and 35-47 since July 1, are ninth in attendance.  The Rockies, who are 23 games over .500 and still have a shot at the NL West title, are 11th in attendance.

Like I said, all teams need some fair weather fans.  But these numbers tell me that even fair weather can't bring more fans into Coors than into Milwaukee.  At least this year (and I acknowledge that last season's playoff drive has something to do with it).

He later went on to say:
A Thursday afternoon game in 50 degree weather, in a stadium 20% larger than yours is bound to have some empty seats. We play outside, i guess we're not "rabid" enough for a nice comfy dome.
I don't care if it was 32 below zero.  It was the Wild Card clinching game.  And the fact that Coors has 20% more capacity only works against this argument.  It tells me that, while the Brewers have been selling out regularly, they could have sold a lot more seats had capacity not been capped.  Granted, having that retractable roof helps, but come on.  Weather in Colorado is typically amazing.

And later:
In 2008, you were 18 games over .500, traded for Sabathia, and you made the playoffs. You were 6th out of 16 in attendance in the National League. I just don't feel like you guys are all that better than us. 3 rabid guys with a lucky mustache does not make a better fanbase.
Sixth in NL attendance.  Yup.  But you know what?  They also sold out 44 games last season, and 22 games in a row (yes, all of those games when the Brewers were fighting for a playoff spot).  There were no exceptions down the stretch.  Every single game.

They were sixth, again, because attendance was limited by two things:  Capacity and size of market.  It's freaking Milwaukee, people.  The Mets were able to sell over 50,000 seats per game because they were in New York and had capacity.  Dodgers, Cardinals and Phillies also all averaged over 42,000 seats sold per game.  Seats in Milwaukee:  41,900.  Again, they sold out 44 games. 

Colorado is the easy target because it's where I live, they are now in the playoffs, and I've had the experience of watching two games at Coors this week -- and of course, in both cases my team lost.  So, maybe I'm a bit of a sore loser in that respect.

But Colorado doesn't have the worst fans.  That wasn't my point.  They always have fans.  Or at least people show up.  I don't know how much investment is there for the typical fan.  But Rockies fans are head and shoulders above the fan bases of Tampa and Florida.  Those fans don't deserve a baseball franchise.

Guess what?  They are also expansion franchises.  Argument again holds up.


Nicholas on October 02, 2009 said...

Jon, I agree with your take on switching loyalties. I had a roomie here in Chicago who grew up in Cincinnati in the 80's and 90's, with the likes of Jose Rigo, Tom Browning, Eric Davis and Barry Larkin. They won the World Series in 1990. He moved here to Chicago and instantly became a Cubs fan, as many transplants do. I couldn't ever count him as a true fan. His argument was that the Reds suck and nobody cares. Gimme a break!!! They won a title when you were a kid, how much more could you ever want as a baseball fan.

Colorado fans shouldn't be all that upset, the game will catch on eventually, hopefully. If the Marlins are an example, perhaps there is never going to be hardcore fans in Colorado.

Jon Loomer on October 02, 2009 said...

Good point about Cubs fans. That's the one exception with the that is difficult to measure. The "cool" factor of rooting for the "Lovable Losers." How many of those people have been with the Cubs through the thick and thin?

Again, I don't want to bash Rockies fans too much because, like I was saying, it's not really in their control. Not to mention, all things considered they're pretty good fans. Way better than Marlins or Rays fans. But it takes time to established long-standing loyalties and traditions. Just does.

Nicholas on October 02, 2009 said...

I guess in certain cases Pro sports aren't about the teams anymore. People go for the experience, the party/tailgaite and to hang with friends. The games may not be important. Wrigley Field was empty in the early 80's. It is cool to root for the Cubs.

The Rockies simply don't have a history or roots so to speak. They never had to fight for a new stadium and their early woes were largely due to not having an up and running farm system. Many baseball traditionalists still don't acknowledge that the Giants and Dodgers moved West, so it isn't shocking that the Rockies don't garner much attention outside of their own market.

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