Monday, February 22, 2010
After a long hard winter that doesn't seem to want to go away, it was nice being able to watch some ball and dream of warmer days ahead. Of course, my idea of a long hard winter here in Northern California pales in comparison to the snow bound cities in the Mid West and Northeast. It was a chilly 58 degrees in Palo Alto on Saturday, but Stanford didn't seem to mind the below average temps and came out smoking against 4th ranked Rice and swept the Owls with an explosive offensive attack and effective pitching.
I was surprised however at the low attendance at Stanford on Saturday. Maybe it was the overcast skies that kept the fair weather fans away...or maybe it was the 5 other D-I teams playing in the area that had their opening weekends nearby. Cal, San Jose State, Santa Clara, USF and St Mary's all were playing locally as well.
If college baseball wants to expand and grow, the California schools need to step it up attendance wise and draw the type of crowds they draw in the Southwest and Southeast. LSU had over 11,000 fans, East Carolina had 5,100, Texas - 5,700. Florida State - 5,200, Southern Mississippi - 3,500, TCU - 3,200, Ole Miss - 7,600, Arkansas - 7,600, Clemson - 5,900, Texas A&M - 5,200, South Carolina, 6,300, and Alabama - 4,500.
Other than Fullerton at 3,400 and Fresno State with 3,800, many of the California schools had attendance below 1,000. I know the weather wasn't perfect and we are so spoiled with our weather that when it's below 60, it might as well be snowing, but come on...support the local teams. UCLA had a pathetic 563 and although Stanford announced it's paid attendance at over 2,100, there were maybe 800 at the actual game. I guess watching bobbleheaded cartoon characters skip across the Gametracker screen was the better option for many of the pre-paid fans.
And, don't talk to me about UC Irvine...What's the deal with those fans? They have a Top 10 team right there in the very populated baseball crazy Orange County area and they can't fill a third of their stadium?
My biggest gripe with the California attendance is the lack of media coverage. I was surprised to see an article in the San Francisco Chronicle touting the weekend college games on Friday, but was disappointed when there was no follow-up to the results of those games. Stanford swept the 4th ranked team in the nation and there was zero coverage of that feat in Sunday's sports section. I noticed that LSU's, Mississippi, Florida State and others had front page above the fold articles following their games. Even though they are smaller towns, the local TV stations also had coverage.
It's time for California media and especially newspapers to expand their sports coverage for college baseball. It just may expand their readership in a time when they really need it as well.