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Why early-season attendance numbers don’t matter

New York YankeesESPN took a shot at the New York Yankees today for suffering through an 9 percent drop in attendance through the first 11 games of the season when compared to 2010. Here’s why ESPN was totally wrong in the simplistic and misleading “analysis” of the numbers.

For any MLB or MiLB team the first two weeks of the season are a crapshoot: bad weather is almost to be expected any time, and rainouts/snowouts are not uncommon. It is the most unpredictable time of the year in terms of the size of the crowds and the weather both.

So for ESPN to run a story, linked here, about Yankees attendance being down some 9 percent so early in the season is really meaningless — It’s too small a sampling for any meaningful conclusions. And it’s comparing apples to oranges. Not mentioned in the article was one crucial difference between 2011 and 2010: In 2010, the Yankees’ 11th home game came on May 4 — some three weeks after the 11th home game of 2011, on April 17. (It could have been worse: take away two weather-delayed games and the 11th home game this year would have been April 15.) That’s two-weeks-plus later in 2010 than 2011.

A northern team having a home-heavy early schedule is a mixed blessing. Every team wants to begin the season with lots of home games to establish a rhythm and bolt to an early divisional lead, something the Yankees did (they’re up three games on Toronto and have the only winning record in the American League East). They did so at the expense of fans and, logically, revenue as well. But for ESPN to be making anything out of the first three weeks of the season, especially in such a rainy April, is very misleading — and betrays a lack of understanding about the business of baseball.


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