PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — As the current homestand has progressed, people have begun to question whether or not Pittsburgh is as good of a baseball town as it’s made out to be.
That question arose because of low attendance for a Tuesday-Thursday series against the Washington Nationals, which featured star rookie outfielder Bryce Harper and pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg. Tuesday and Wednesday PNC Park featured barely over 10,000 fans (and that was paid attendance), and Thursday, with Strasburg on the mound, just over 15,000 fans showed up.
While those numbers are low and many Pittsburghers missed out on seeing future stars in Pittsburgh for the first time, it’s incredibly hard for me to criticize Pirates fans for not showing up.
When discussing topics like this, you first have to mention the absolute reality of the situation: Pittsburgh is going on 20 years of losing baseball — a streak no other city in the United States has ever seen.
While the start to last season was exciting and inspired confidence in some, the finish to the season was crushing and, in turn, lost a lot of those that were turned into believers. It’s going to take a lot to win this city over, plain and simple.
With that said, the attendance at Pirates games is impressive given the streak. This kind of losing in other towns would probably end in relocation.
Now, on to the most recent stretch of games at PNC Park.
As media members, it’s easy to look at this Pirates-Nationals series and salivate a little over the young talent on the diamond. We know the type of promise and potential there is in the Pirates clubhouse, and that is mirrored in Washington with the likes of Strasburg and Harper.
But that’s what we get paid to do. We’re supposed to know about these young up-and-comers. To the average fan, which typically lends most of its attention to solely the home town team, Pirates-Nationals isn’t circled when the schedule is released.
But looking at attendance at this park in even the worst of seasons, visiting teams with rich traditions or established superstars have sold out left and right. Every time Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants visited, every time the Yankees or Red Sox have been in town, this stadium has been full.
It’s pretty full against divisional opponents, too.
Week night games have never drawn very well, and it’s hard to be surprised that this Pirates-Nationals series followed suit.
Washington has no history. It has a bunch of promising players very few people know about.
Oh yea, the Pirates are out there, too.
It’s a series featuring the two lowest-scoring teams in the majors. And don’t act like weather isn’t a factor, either. The series continues to get less attractive when it’s 40-some degrees in the latter innings.
So let’s not give up on Pittsburgh as a baseball town just yet. In my opinion, this series shows fans in this town haven’t changed.
And all along we’ve called it a good baseball town.
Chris Gates | Bucs Blog