Saturday, June 21, 2008

Do you Diamondback fans have ANY IDEA how good you have it?

Phoenix should be a baseball mad city.

Phoenix should be a place where when people bring up sports they say "Oh man... they LOVE their Diamondbacks."

I'll say it... Arizona Diamondback fans should be among the most passionate and loyal in all of baseball.

And they are not.
Oh I am sure there are some crazy D'Backs fans out there, but they should be playing to sold out houses every night... not be ranked 13th out of 16 in National League attendance.

Let me list why they should be the toast of the desert and then I will demand answers.

1) THE GOOD TIMES CAME QUICKLY

The Diamondbacks were formed in 1998. Their first 100 win season was in 1999.
A whopping 1 year wait for a trip to the post season!
The Phillies didn't win 100 games in a season until 1976... their 93rd season!

2) THE TEAM HAS A FRANCHISE DEFINING MOMENT

The 2001 World Series was not just the best World Series since the playoffs expanded to 3 rounds but it was the great post September 11th moment of celebration.

And the 9th inning comeback off of Rivera in game 7 was the most stunning baseball moment I had seen since Kirk Gibson's home run off Eckersley.

And considering Rivera's track record in big games and the fact it was a 7th and deciding game, one could argue the 2 runs off of Rivera was even bigger than Gibson's homer.

The Rangers have been around since 1972.
What is THEIR franchise defining moment? The ball bouncing off of Canseco's head?

3) THREE TRIPS TO THE PLAYOFFS IN THEIR FIRST FIVE YEARS

Keep in mind their partners in expansion, the team formerly known as the Devil Rays, spent their first 10 seasons trying in vain to win 71 games.


4) THE REBUILDING WAS QUICK

After posting winning seasons in 5 of their first 6 years, the D'Backs fell apart in 2004, losing 111 games.

By 2007, Arizona was a 90 win playoff team again. 3 year rebuilding process.
The Pirates haven't rebuilt in more than 5 times that many seasons since Francisco Cabrera.

5) THEY ARE THE ONLY TEAM TO WIN IN THE DESERT

The Suns have never won a final.
Wayne Gretzsky isn't enough to make the Coyotes a Cup contender.
And if you want to see the total highlights of the Arizona Cardinals, just rent Jerry Maguire.

Seriously, what other great thing have the Cardinals won?

But the Diamondbacks won it all.

6) THE BOB, OR WHATEVER THEY CALL THEIR PARK IS COOL ON A HOT SUMMER DAY

I know it's hot. It's the f---ing desert. It's tends to be hot.
But it's cool under the roof. Hell they put in a pool for you people!


And despite all of that, the Diamondbacks can't draw.
Hell there were empty seats at the NLCS last year, which is inexcusable.

Why aren't they the biggest thing in Arizona?
They look like they are poised to win ANOTHER NL West Crown, which would be their 5th in 11 years, and yet good seats are still available.

Why?

Hey Paul Wren at D'Back Fans... was it too much too soon?

Let me ask you Snake Pit, is it just a lack of interest in baseball?

Hey Phoenix Sports Fan, is everyone there just big Coyote fans?

Or is it because they keep changing their uniforms, D'Backs Talk.

I need some answers D Backs fans.
Phoenix should be a baseball oasis in the desert.

Or maybe you guys are watching the Arizona Cardinals scenes in Jerry Maguire.

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:24 PM

    I'm responding to the post you made on AZ Snakepit.

    I too realize that we have a woeful fan base for our beloved DBacks. As you pointed out there are indeed many reasons for there to be a ravenous fan base. Yet there are several problems.

    First and foremost (and this is one of the weaker points) this team is still very young (10yrs) and has yet to establish a true home grown fan base.

    Also if you've ever been to Phoenix you'll notice that there are very few natives of the city. A vast sum are people transplanted from the East (Snowbirds) or Californians. Hell I'm one of the only fifth generation Phoenicians around! Thus many of the people of Phoenix show their loyalty to the teams of their old cities, especially the Cubs as there are quite a few Chicagans.

    This last point also brings up the problem of quite a few Phoenicians being fair whether fans of the PhoTown teams since their first love lies with the team associated with their birth place or their parents birth place. Thus when the Dbacks are rockin then so are the fans but when they arent.....

    Lastly, though the Dbacks have landed a championship in living memory (God I loved the 2001 World Series) many of the people here are Suns fans first, albeit bitter ones much like BoSox fans used to be. And for them the Dbacks are only just starting to grow on them.

    Well I've laid it out as best as I can. Of course this is just my opinion and I'm sure many will chip away at it. Overall I feel that the makeup of the city and the relative youth of the franchise make for a fanbase that is only just starting to find its feet.

    From a Suns/Dbacks fan: Turambar

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  2. Just a matter of time, really. When you drop a team in any city, the pattern is usually the same. Great attendance at first, but a steady decline thereafter, as the novelty wears off. How things go from there, really depends on a variety of factors.

    However, first things first: Arizona is doing phenomenally better in attendance than their expansion brethren in Tampa. Even though they are leading the AL East - as I'm sure you know! - they are still only pulling barely 20,000 per game, or about 25% less than Arizona. And we're getting almost twice as many as the Marlins, who have a longer history and not one, but two World Series. Those are the kind of teams the D-backs crowds should be compared against, and I think we do quite well.

    Turumbar has already mentioned a couple of key reasons: most people here are from somewhere else, and bring their loyalties with them. Those who grew up with the team and can claim to be lifelong D-backs fans are also probably barely out of school, and so don't have the necessary disposable income. Again, time is the main cure for that.

    Couple of other thoughts. While the World Series was great, it was basically an entire team of hired guns, and it's a lot harder for that to inspire long-term affection than players who have been attached to a franchise all their life. Matt Williams will always be a Giant; Mark Grace a Cub; of the 25-man roster for that World Series, only four made their major-league debuts in Arizona. Not that some weren't loved here - Luis Gonzalez, for example. But every baseball fan knows, free agents will break your heart.

    That is something that's changing. Seven of our Opening Day nine were AZ debutants [all save Hudson and Byrnes], and it's with players like Webb, Upton and Scherzer that the future of the franchise lies. They will still become free agents, but it's much more rewarding to see homegrown players blossom and flourish, than buy their services.

    I do suspect the cost of gas is affecting things a bit this year too. It hasn't made any difference personally, but this is a sprawling city, and it doesn't help that downtown Phoenix is not an attractive destination. Everything basically closes up at 6pm, and so a family can't really make a night of it.

    Still, things are going in the right direction: if we continue to contend, there's a very good chance we'll be averaging 30,000 a game over the season. And I doubt you'll see empty seats at the NLCS this season if Arizona reaches it - there was no such issue in the NLDS, and so I'm forced to conclude it was mostly because we faced the Rockies, and who outside Colorado wants to see them? :-) Fortunately, that possibility is looking pretty unlikely at the present time...

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  3. Jim has outlined some of the problem, but let me fill you in on the other half, because to outsiders, Phoenix attendance must seem like a puzzler. To many Arizonans, the Diamondbacks arent really a franchise as much as two, thanks to an acrimonious late 2004 ownership change that led to a) substantial increases in single game ticket prices in MLB's lowest per capita market, even while the team was losing b) a completely unnecessary and poorly received rebranding of perhaps the most successful expansion team in MLB history, and c) the transformation of a ballpark with already too much signage into the cheesiest, earsplitting non-stop commercial 9 inning onslaught a Bostonian couldnt possibly imagine.

    Not many people know, but when Jerry Colangelo ran the team (1998-2004), Phoenix outdrew your Red Sox every year but one. There were a host of reasons for that, but he never really had problems getting fans to the park - not the way the new regime does. Even during the 111 loss season (Colangelo's final yr), we still drew more than any year since - including last yr's NLCS team. Think about that the next time someone tries to sell you the tired, all-encompassing bromide about how Phoenix is just a transient town with bandwagon fans. We drew more , losing 111 games under one regime than we drew winning 90 for the other. If we're "transient" now, werent we transient in 2004? The truth is a sizable number of fans have opted out since the ownership change for a variety of reasons.

    Most of the stuff Jim says is true too - it's just propped up to the exclusion of everything else, because Jim's on board with how the new regime does things and he can barely hide his disdain for Colangelo. We dont have the 100 year entrenched history and all that. Where I disagree with him is that I feel the new owners have also done a very poor job (at least so far) of gauging, marketing to, and connecting with what is a relatively poor, less entrenched, and yes, possibly somewhat spoiled or fickle base. They're getting better. It was particularly bad early on, but I think they've started to realize just how badly their policies and disdain for the past has hurt attendance. So things may be looking up.

    In short, the problem isnt Phoenix fans primarily, who strongly supported the Dbacks between 1998-2004, support the Suns, and even sold out for the pitiful NFL Cardinals. The problem is with an ownership who should've averaged 35K a night in their sleep two years running, but was derailed by a deceptive and uniquely regressive price structure and disdain for our recent but memorable past.

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  4. This is simple, too many transplants. It's a problem in most sun belt cities and for some reason people from the Northeast or midwest can't understand it. But a lot of people move to places like Phoenix, Atlanta, etc but they don't change their rooting interest. They still root for the Boston, New York, Chicago teams. The Atlanta Braves were smart though they marketed themselves regionally so they are the only pro sports team that most people in the south east even remotely care about. That's why the Braves attendance is huge during the summer but lackluster in April, September, and October. So many fans come from 3 or 4 hours away and that's just easier to do during the summer months when kids are out of school than it is in the early spring and in fall.

    My friend Rachel lived in Phoenix for two years and she said it was the same way. Too many transplants. She is a huge Braves fan and would go to the Dbacks games when the Braves were in town and there were always a lot of Braves fans at the games. They are just having trouble getting fans to transition over. I think the reason the Suns seem to do better is that a lot of people don't have the child hood sentimentality attached to NBA teams like they do their MLB or NFL teams. I know I could never abandon the Braves or Falcons but I could see myself jumping on a NHL or NBA team's bandwagon if I ever moved elsewhere.

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