As of Monday, 24 Major Leagues had been postponed because of weather so far this season, as well as numerous Minor League Baseball and college games. A lot has been said about the impact of weather on baseball this season, from the large number of postponed games to questions about how such decisions made. Many have also been left to wonder if weather has impacted stats and attendance, or if some team’s slow starts can be blamed on more than just the weather.
So far, MLB attendance is down by about 10 percent this year. But is Mother Nature really to blame? On April 9, the Baltimore Orioles set the record for their lowest attendance EVER, with just 7,915 fans present. (Yes, there was that April 29, 2015, post-rioting game when no one in attendance, but that doesn’t count.) Of course, we can’t be sure of the cause of that night’s low attendance. it could have been the weather (44 degrees at the start of the game), the day of the week (Monday), or the opponent (Toronto, which traditionally draws smaller crowds to Camden Yards). On the other hand, it could have been the Orioles dismal performance thus far this year or their ongoing reluctance to hire decent pitchers.
Absent a detailed statistical analysis of the correlation between weather and attendance, we can simply take a look at Attendance this season. So far this year, the Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals, Angels, and Astros are leading in average attendance per game, averaging between 37,000 and more than 46,000 tickets sold. The Marlins, Pirates, White Sox, Rays, and Indians A’s are at the bottom of the attendance rankings, ranging from 13,000 fans per game to just under 17,000. For some of those teams, I seriously doubt weather has anything to do with either their attendance numbers.
So, maybe we need to stop blaming Mother Nature. Maybe we need to question MLB’s owners, GMs, managers, players, and fans. Or maybe it’s a larger societal issue. More research is needed. Any thoughts?
Happy Earth Day!