Monday’s series opening game against the New York Yankees saw a sellout crowd at the A for just the second time this season, and the first time since Opening Day. Coming into Memorial Day, the Angels attendance was down 14% from last season, the largest drop-off in baseball this season. That is decidedly bad news for a team with one of the four highest payrolls in baseball this season.
So what’s happened to the Halo fanbase? How has a team with such a groundswell of excitement during the offseason suffered the worst attendance drop off in baseball? The blame can be placed in two places: the team and the schedule.
First and foremost, this team just has not been very good to start the season. They just finally got back to .500 after Monday’s rally for the first time since the opening week of the season. Albert Pujols went more than a month without going deep, the offense was historically bad at scoring runs, and the pitching was putting the BP in bullpen. In short, the team stunk.
Secondly, the Angels haven’t really played anybody at home early this season. Before this Yankees series, the Angels had hosted the Royals, Twins, Orioles, White Sox, Blue Jays and the A’s. Not exactly huge draws. The lack of star power coming in did nothing to offset the fans’ discontent from the star power on the team failing to perform. Adam Jones and Kelly Johnson are nice players and all, but they aren’t the big names that are going to put butts in the seats.
Luckily for the Angels and Arte Moreno’s checkbook, both of these issues are getting resolved. The team is on a seven game winning streak, the longest current streak in baseball and the Angels longest since 2009. The bullpen, with the trio of closer-capable relievers in Jordan Walden, Ernesto Frieri, and Scott Downs, has gotten nailed down and is nailing down leads late in games. The starting pitching has started to regain some of that dominance that everyone expected of them during the spring, though the injury to Jered Weaver could put a dent into that. Most importantly, the offense is clicking. Mike Trout has rejuvenated the leadoff spot, Mark Trumbo is showing an uncanny patience at the plate (considering how wildly he was swinging last year) while still maintaining his big power swing, and Albert Pujols if finally looking like Albert Pujols, with seven home runs in May and four in the last week alone.
The turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time. While the Angels have muddled against the likes of Oakland at home so far this season, their turnaround came just in time for a nine-game home stand against the Yankees and Rangers, both of whom should be significantly better draws than anyone the Angels have faced this season.
So with the issues that plagued this team for the first month of the season and more interesting opponents now traveling to SoCal, Halos fans are out of reasons to stay away. Angels Stadium should be a sea of red for every game going forward as the Halos try and claw their way back into the AL West race. The fans showed that with a good product on the field and good competition coming to town, they’ll pack the house as they did Monday night. Now both sides need to keep their end of the bargain going, and it’ll make for one great summer.