Even with the Seattle Mariners in town this week, attendance was scarce among the Detroit Tigers fan base.
Another Labor Day weekend is upon us. The weather minus the storms earlier in the week has been pleasant. Today was 79 degrees and sunny when the Detroit Tigers took the field in front of an announced crowd of 14,393. But being down there today, it did not look even close to that number at first pitch. Detroit could only muster four hits as Seattle won the game 7-0. With that shutout, Detroit draws close to a franchise record that is not exactly flattering.
The main reason fans have not been going to Tigers games this season is because the team isn’t good. Pretty obvious, right? Outside of Opening Day, the biggest day crowd was on April 23rd against the Rockies. It was the day that Miguel Cabrera got to 3,000 hits. Night game wise, the Lou Whitaker number retirement ceremony back on August 6th drew the only other crowd of over 40,000 fans. They have drawn just over a million fans this season at 1,305,056, which puts them at 22nd in the league.
One of the biggest draws for this team you would believe is the future. Riley Greene after his single today, has a 10-game hitting streak but most of Metro Detroit may be googling “Nate Sudfeld stats”. Both high school and college football are underway and Hard Knocks has given the Detroit Lions the national spotlight. Another option on a Saturday night is Detroit City FC. The crowd I saw today may have been smaller than an FC match. Anytime I see Detroit FC games on social media, there is a buzz in the air. People have their war paint on and the crowd is loud with their various groups they hang out with before and after the game. While soccer and baseball crowds are two different animals, Tigers games this season outside of the milestone moments this season have lacked an atmosphere. Anytime I talk about Tigers on the other Woodward Sports shows, the response this year is simple. “Who cares”
Detroit Tigers are loyal, but to a point
Forget the losing for a moment. The Austin Meadows trade, the firing of Al Avila to the press conferences with owner Chris Ilitch, this season has been one of the strangest in recent memory. You can find good performances across the board, but when the offense is averaging the second lowest runs per game in over the 100 years of the franchise, that doesn’t help. If the team was hitting home runs but losing, I am sure it could be different. But the lack of atmosphere around Comerica Park has been one that feels like a wet blanket. The players are trying and for all the anger that is thrown at manager A.J. Hinch and hitting Scott Coolbaugh; it goes deeper than that. They can only control so much. Whatever changes that will take place in the off-season will have to be ones that take away the taste of this season.
There are signs in the minor leagues, but until they come up and produce, it is just that, just stats that have shown growth. Open tryouts for positions for 2023 will not be enough for fans to come down for the remaining home stands. Instead, fans will do whatever else with their free time with a better atmosphere.