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Do the Yankees have a “spoiled fan base?”

Feb 19, 2013, 7:49 AM EDT

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Reading a story about how the Yankees HAVE to sign Robinson Cano or else the world ends (there have been a lot of those lately). Come across this passage, in which John Harper talks about the idea of the Yankees rebuilding from the ground-up:

Actually, that might be a tantalizing option, considering that a rather spoiled fan base doesn’t seem all that excited by this team anymore, if the empty seats for playoff games last October were any indication.

The Yankees hosted five playoff games last year. Their average attendance in those games: 48, 217. Game three of the ALDS hit 50,497, which is greater than the park’s listed capacity of 50,287 and is less than 500 butts short of the stadium record. Only one other playoff team had a single game with more than the Yankees average playoff attendance, and that was the Braves, who hosted 52,631 for the NL Wild Card Game (but feel free to go on about how the Braves can’t get their fans to show up for playoff games).

Yes, this is largely a function of stadium capacity. Yankee Stadium’s capacity is listed as 50,287. But it’s not like the team routinely sells out the park, only to have “spoiled fans” refuse to show recently. The average attendance for the regular season since the park opened has ranged between 42,733 in 2012 up to 46,491 in 2010, so more fans showed up for the 2012 playoffs, on average, than usually show up to see the Yankees.

Is this poor for the playoffs? By comparison, sure. The Yankees hosted eight playoff games in their world championship season in 2009 — also their first season in the new ballpark — and averaged 49,994. In 2010 they averaged 50,032 in four home playoff games. In 2011, 50,832 in three games.  The upshot: they drew between 1,700 and 2,600 fewer fans per playoff game in 2012 than they had in the previous three years. That more or less tracks the couple thousand fewer per game they’re getting in the regular season over that time. But they’re still outdrawing everyone else and they do better in the playoffs than they do in the regular season.

Maybe that’s troublesome for some people, but 2,000 fans at the outside is not a lot and can be explained by any number of factors — ticket prices, game times, weather, opponent and the like —  before one can reasonably conclude that they have a “spoiled fan base.”

  1. Jackson - Feb 19, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    Craig’s right about the Braves. Sure, we may have trouble filling seats during the regular season, but put us in October and we’ll be sold out or damn near close to it each game.

  2. seahawks80 - Feb 19, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    As a Yankee fan if expecting them to be in the post-season every means I’m spoiled then yes, I’m a spoiled Yankee fan.

    • seahawks80 - Feb 19, 2013 at 7:58 AM

      ******every year******

    • turdfurgerson68 - Feb 19, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      You forgot to mention how arrogant and entitled you are…to go along with spoiled.

      • bigharold - Feb 19, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        Why should a Yankee fan deprive all the non-Yankee fans of that rant?

  3. nepo784 - Feb 19, 2013 at 7:59 AM

    And this question is just bring asked now?….

  4. historiophiliac - Feb 19, 2013 at 7:59 AM

    Yes. Next post.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:46 AM

      Seriously, was this ever up for debate?

    • indaburg - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:12 AM


  5. hojo20 - Feb 19, 2013 at 7:59 AM

    MLB has watered down the playoffs so much that making the playoffs isn’t a big deal for the Yankees fans anymore. The excitement from 1995-96 is gone.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:18 AM

      So many other teams’ fans’ hearts break for you.

      • hojo20 - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:34 AM

        Please don’t accuse me of being a Yanks fan!

      • historiophiliac - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        I apologize profusely for the insulting assumption.

  6. clownsfan - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    As a Cleveland sports fan married to a Yankee fan I can say unequivocally yes. They are spoiled.

  7. proudlycanadian - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    Like Craig, I am sleep deprived this morning (the phone rang at 1:30AM and I had trouble getting back to sleep), so I am not sure if I understand the gist of this thread.

    Is someone predicting that the Yankees will be spoilers this season?

    • lncrprl - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      Go back to sleep….sounds like you need it!

  8. djpostl - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:04 AM

    I love the Yankees. I love Cano as a player.

    But if they go beyond say six years they are idiots.

    Even if you did some role playing and pretended you had amnesia concerning the whole Arod contract fiasco the position of 2B does not age well.

    At all.

    Sandberg, Alomar and Morgan are but three examples of actual Hall of Famers who cratered around the age of 33 and never saw their production even approach anything beyond “league average”.

    Utley is his closest contemporary (in terms of age and production) and we’ve already seen what has happened to him.

    Pujols signed a big deal and promptly went out and had an Arod “post big deal” year (it’s eerie how similar his first season in Anaheim was to the first year Arod had after signing his ten year deal at same age …doesn’t bode well for Angels fans)

    Votto signed a big deal but then got hurt.

    Fielder had a very good year but saw a substantial drop in his power numbers.

    These kinds of long-term deals never pan out and to give one to a position with a long storied history of Hall of Fame caliber players becoming relatively useless before their mid-thirties would be the very definition of insanity.

    • pappageorgio - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      While generally I agree with the post and it’s pretty dumb to give really long contracts to older guys…….

      Albert picked it up at the end of last season. He slumped very early on and was very good down the stretch. I agree that his contract was/is rediculous, the thing I disagree with here is comparing him to A-Rod.

      Fielder, on the other hand, is a bad comparison. The stat mongers may have labeled Comerica as a “hitters park” but it is not a power hitters park……especially in right field. Tiger fans are not disappointed in his performance and a “substantial drop in his power numbers” wasn’t totally unexpected because of his new surroundings.

  9. soobster - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    I’m a Yankees fan living in Atlanta. Braves fans are awesome. They show up and fill the Ted when they need to. Will they fill up a weds game against the marlins? No. But who would. I was at Bobby’s last game against SF in the playoffs and last years infield fly rule game and that place is electric.

    As far as the Bombers go. Yeah, we’re spoiled lol When your team only misses the playoffs once in 17 years you tend to be that way.

    • greymares - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:03 AM

      you asked who would ? the Phillies will fill the stadium on wednesday against the Marlins and may even fill it against the Braves.

  10. woodenulykteneau - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    In a related story, bear feces were located during a recent forest expedition.

    • uwsptke - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:24 AM

      I feel this is somehow connected to my own recent discovery that the Pope is indeed Catholic.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:27 AM

        Not this year, he gave up Catholicism for Lent…

      • historiophiliac - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:29 AM

        Church, that is the second best Catholic joke I’ve heard in awhile. lol

  11. If the Shoe Fits - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    Craig- often forgotten due to the scheduling quirks of last year is that the Yankees played 5 consecutive home games in 5 nights. With the short turnaround & multiple extra inning games, it made it challenging for many fans to attend multiple games.

  12. dondada10 - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    I blame stubhub for Yankees fans being spoiled. Heathen website.

  13. southpaw2k - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    Shouldn’t this article be part of the Yankees Doom Watch?

    Yes, Yankees fans are definitely spoiled. They have no perspective on what it’s like to be a fan of another team in baseball because their team has – for over 15 years now – made the playoffs in nearly every season. They don’t know what it’s like for their team to face a rebuilding period, but they are about to find out. They won’t be floundering for 15 years like the Orioles did, but until they rebuild their farm system with some decent prospects and blend them in with a few veteran leaders (Whoa! What a concept!), they won’t be a perennial contender anymore.

    And as long as they have to deal with that albatross of a contract for A-Rod, their money will be severely handicapped, which means they likely can’t go after big name free agents every year either and still stay under the luxury tax limit.

    • bigharold - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:21 PM

      “… Yankees Doom Watch?”

      Yankees fans hear that every year, .. too old, .. too brittle, .. not enough home grown talent. But, the facts are;

      – In fact three of the five Yankee starters are “home grown”.
      – With the likes of Rivera, Robertson, Phelps and Chamberlain their pen is pretty stocked with home grown too.
      – They have home grown players at 2B, SS, CF and likely catcher too.

      All in all home grown is not their problem.

      “.. but until they rebuild their farm system with some decent prospects ”

      The Yankees have decent prospects, especially at catcher and OF. But like all prospects they may or may not pan out.

      The Yankees have more options than most teams but they are finite. And, even with Yankee resources players still need to execute. But like most critiques of the Yankees they erroneously point to the perceived lack of internal development.

      The bottom line is the Yankees demise is regularly, and coincidentally at the beginning of each Spring, heralded and as the season wears on usually not forthcoming. But, there is always the possibility they’ll crater but until it happens it’s best to deal with the reality, .. which is the Yankees have missed the playoffs once in 18 years, (it would’ve been 19 years except for 94’s work stoppage). So yeah they seem to be doing just fine as a “perennial contender”.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        not enough home grown talent.

        You don’t understand though. Players that are acquired via trade are fine for other teams, but it’s only because of the money the Yanks get them. Players that were Yankee farm hands and were traded only to become good players were terrible on the Yanks and only became good due to the other team’s farm system, so they don’t count either. Yankee farm hands aren’t considered home grown either, for a reason I’ve never got an answer to.

        The Yanks field 25 mercenaries with an additional 15 on their 40 man roster. That’s the way it’s always been, and that’s the way it always will be…

      • southpaw2k - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:57 PM

        – In fact three of the five Yankee starters are “home grown”.
        – With the likes of Rivera, Robertson, Phelps and Chamberlain their pen is pretty stocked with home grown too.
        – They have home grown players at 2B, SS, CF and likely catcher too.


        Yes, and Rivera is likely entering his final season in the majors. Jeter is also nearing the end of his career, and Cano could very well depart as a free agent following this season. Not to mention Cano is by far the youngest of those three players. All those facts support my argument, not yours.

        You’re right though – prospects can either turn into consistent everyday players, or they’re busts. However it doesn’t really change the fact that the Yankees have relied mostly on their farm system as trade bait in order to bring in veterans to win now. That mentality is finally catching up to the team and the organization.

        Honestly, can you be excited about Kevin Youkilis being your full-time third basemen for possibly the entire season? And what about Curtis Granderson and all his strikeouts? Same goes for Cano and Teixeira.

      • bigharold - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:42 PM

        You are right, .. this is likely Rivera’s last year, .. or not. Regardless, between Phelps, Robertson and Chamberlain they have a replacement. They also have some young arms in AAA so pitching isn’t an acute need.

        I’d rather have Nunez’ bat, speed an all round athleticism but unfortunately that comes with his glove too. But, who knows maybe he develops into a decent defensive 3B. Youkilis, long as he stays healthy a one year deal is fine. In fact, if he’s healthy he’s very dangerous clutch bat.

        “.. what about Curtis Granderson and all his strikeouts? Same goes for Cano and Teixeira.”

        As long as the power numbers come along with them I’ll take it.

        “…the Yankees have relied mostly on their farm system as trade bait in order to bring in veterans to win now. That mentality is finally catching up to the team and the organization. ”

        That is the Yankees way of doing business. And, that has got them into the playoffs more than any other team in the past 20 years. That is the very definition of perennial contender. The annual dire predictions of Yankee doom and gloom not withstanding I have faith that Cashman and the Yankees will do what needs to be done to stay perennial contenders.

  14. rathipon - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    A few years ago it was unheard of for a playoff game to have available tickets at the box office. Craig’s analysis shows that ultimately they filled about the same number of seats as in the past. That said, it was quite a surprise, at the time, to find out that tickets were availble on gameday. These games used to sell out weeks before the playoffs in a number of minutes.

  15. tannethrill - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    Sure, we’re spoiled but that’s a product of our success and lack of a salary cap.

    I love my Yanks but I hate the salary system in MLB and it’s why it’s my third favorite sport which really does keep me from caring too much.

    I’d rather a competitive balance.

    • jarathen - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:58 AM

      I won’t tell you that baseball doesn’t deal with payroll disparity, but it’s not like the Yankees win every World Series.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      I’d rather a competitive balance.

      Because having the same 6-8 teams in the NBA conference finals or NFL conference finals every year is balanced? Both of them have a hard cap unlike MLB.

  16. hooks024 - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    I am a Yankees fan. I’m not spoiled, but October is my birthright.

  17. mdev1987 - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    Spoiled? Paying $70 per for upper deck seats, $8.50 for a hot dog and $11 for a beer is spoiled?? Ha! No they better make it to the post season with a $175 mill dollar payroll

    • historiophiliac - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:22 AM

      I saw two MLB games in person last season and I drove 5 hours to do it…and you’re whining about the price of beer.

  18. Francisco (FC) - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    who hosted 52,631 for the NL Wild Card Game (but feel free to go on about how the Braves can’t get their fans to show up for playoff games).

    I’m sure a good chunk of those were Cardinals fans… you know, the Best Fans in Baseball? Yeah, that must be it. Or else the fans sensed they were only getting ONE playoff game this year so might as well make it count…

    • indaburg - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:10 AM


  19. jarathen - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    Considering that the human nature is to adapt to whatever is consistent, yes, fans will be spoiled by a successful team. Three years out of the playoffs for the Angels have taken me from spoiled to hopeful, but given the choice, I’d certainly rather be spoiled.

  20. Fat Al - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    I’m a Yankees fan. And I am spoiled. But I did live through 1982-94, so I’m not stupid.

  21. pisano - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    Of course the Yankee fans expect their team to win, there’s an old saying,” show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser”

  22. kirkvanhouten - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    I once didn’t attend a Yankee game because they wouldn’t let me friend bring their *IPad* in (she was coming directly from work). She was coming from work, had it in her backpack and was told to lose it to she wanted to enter the stadium. When she asked what the hell she was supposed to do with the it, the guy just shrugged his shoulders and moved other people through (NYC, so we didn’t have a car).

    We left and just gave our tickets to some people waiting in line to buy some.

    Really Yankees? A fucking Ipad?

    • Fat Al - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      Their security policies have been idiotic, although they did change the ipad policy last season. For future reference, the bowling alley and other entrepreneurial neighborhood businesses have a cottage industry in bag checks as a result. God Bless America.

  23. BigBeachBall - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    Comment trolling blog… Cmon nbc i thought u were better than that….

  24. shoehole - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    Do you think some of those Braves fans wanted to see Chipper for the last time?

  25. kaladin69 - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    The empty stadium is not because the fans don’t care. It’s the ticket prices. Times are tough. Who has hundreds of dollars to go to a baseball game? Not me. I pay my cable bill and watch the games at home.

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