Leading up to Friday’s A’s and Braves home openers, each team still had tickets available. The Pirates and Nationals open on Monday and are still pushing tickets. The Nationals are so hard up for buyers that the team president has gone on the radio in nearby cities like Richmond, rival Baltimore and even Philadelphia — their opponent on Opening Day — encouraging fans to take the day off and come to Nationals Park.
For Pittsburgh and Washington, it’s understandable that a Monday afternoon game would have trouble selling out. It’s bound to be cold and those teams haven’t shown much promise in recent seasons, this offseason, or the first week of this season (Pittsburgh’s Opening Day rally and two-out-of-four start in St. Louis only a slight exception). But Atlanta? A team that won 14 straight division titles and has some promise for this year (though still ranks behind New York and Philadelphia in terms of “on paper” prospects for this year)? Even Oakland is surprising — considering that it now ranks last in the Majors in capacity since the A’s closed off the upper deck.
That’s kind of sad. As a fan, I hope it’s a result of the recession. I don’t want to think that there are fans so put off by the game or their teams that they won’t even get excited for the start of a new season. With the Braves, though, it’s a longtime problem. Their core fans are loyal, but they’re not a big ticket, even in the postseason. At least not during the height of their dominance, when October baseball was a foregone conclusion in Atlanta. Maybe that will change the next time they get back to the playoffs.