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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. dirtyharry1971 - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Yankees=Greatest Franchise in “sports” History. You either love them or you wish your team was like them, case closed, end of story, goodnite.

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      The Yankees do have a spoiled fan base in the sense that they are consistent post season
      participants since 95.That will change real soon when that fella who plays short is asked to leave. The other thing is people can’t afford the prices at the stadium so they stay home and finally some people like watching at home so they find no reason to go to as many games as
      they did before ( NO BIG FAN OF THE NEW PLACE ).

      • ctony1216 - Feb 19, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        If baseball writers had to pay for their tickets, meals and drinks at Yankee Stadium, they wouldn’t consider Yankees fans spoiled.

  2. knhuppert - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Is this a real question?

    • historiophiliac - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      It’s a cat question, bro.

  3. tigresnyc - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Craig you’re just wrong about the attendance. I’ve been at every game the Tigers have played in NYC over the past three years and the ALCS last year was the most apathetic Yankees crowd I’ve seen. There were never 50,000 people in that stadium at the same time. I was paying $18 for 200 level seats behind the Yankees dugout. During the ALDS I prayed that the Yanks would beat the O’s–mainly because recent Tiger teams have had success at Yankee Stadium but also because the seats were so much cheaper in New York.

    • bh0673 - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:03 PM

      Tigresync what you saw on the secondary market is not what the fans were getting hit with up front. The two hundred level behind home plate at Yankee stadium is the Delta suite and those seats were not cheap it you are referring to the upper level then yes seats sold for a lot less on the secondary market.

  4. aceshigh11 - Feb 19, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    Well…I guess, sure, they’re spoiled, but that term has a negative connotation to it.

    But c’mon…look at their track record since ’94…who WOULDN’T be spoiled by a team that sets a standard like that?

    Yes, they’ve had a few fallow periods (’60s, ’80s) but overall, you’re generally happy if you’re a Yankee fan.

    I got spoiled as a Sox fan from ’03 to ’10…it was quite jarring and humbling to come back down to earth after a period of relative success, and it definitely weeds out the fairweather fanbase too.

  5. turdfurgerson68 - Feb 19, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    Yankee fans be as spoiled as a bowl of milk sitting in the Sahara desert for a week straight.

    Now that the spoiled issue is settled, how about an article on how arrogant and entitled Yankee fans are….or is that a long settled fact as well?

    • bigharold - Feb 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      It’s lonely at the top, .. that’s “a long settled fact as well”.

  6. Kevin Gillman - Feb 19, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    I think the biggest problem isn’t the Yankee fans, but rather the Yaqnkee media. They just think the world revolves around the Yankees, and no other MLB team exists. A big reason I don’t like Michael Kaye or Susan whatshername. Then again, it can also be jealousy because they are doing something I would love to do, broadcasting at Yankee Stadium…LOL

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:25 PM

      I think the biggest problem isn’t the Yankee fans

      Oh no it’s us fans as well.

      • Kevin Gillman - Feb 19, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        LOL…okay although the Yankee fans I have spoken with in the past are not bad. But I’ll buy that.

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      so you want Michael Kay and Susan whatshername to root for other teams during Yankee broadcast. the people who run YES and pay them will love your idea, to bad George died
      before hearing your great idea.

      • Kevin Gillman - Feb 19, 2013 at 5:01 PM

        Where did I ever say that? Look, I understand it’s the broadcaster’s job to put their team over as such a great force, but I have listened to other broadcasters too since I get the Extra Innings package every year, the best broadcaster can call things as they see them. If the other team plays better, you give them credit, you don’t say it’s the umpire’s fault like Hawk Harrelson has done so many different times in the past. Susan comes off as so snobbish when she does interviews in other markets like I have heard her do saying the only team that matters in the media’s eyes are the Yankees. And Michael Kaye doesn’t have any more credibility anymore in anything he says, which is a very, VERY important tool to have when you’re a broadcaster. But what do I know?

  7. tigertaz27 - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    F$&@@&k the Yankees!

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      the first word has too many symbols, can’t you spell?

  8. steviep23 - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Most Yankee fans I know don’t know sh*t about baseball and only pay attention in October.

  9. bh0673 - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    As a former full season ticket holder and a partial season ticket holder now I think the problem is two fold ticket prices have reached a point that fans are thinking twice about going and couple that with $45.00 to park your car when it is $20 over at CitiField and that is a problem. Yankee brass has lost sight of the fact the bulk of the fans are regular working guys and not corporate, rich and famous or wealthy. They have built an empire on catering to the rich and forgot the real fans. The proof is in the secondary market where a lot of games will not command face value. They need to resign Cano because they can’t keep charging what they are for tickets and parking unless you field a team with stars. If you go and rebuild from the inside which is not totally unrealistic as this team ages then the Yankees would have to lower ticket prices and that I truly believe they don’t comprehend.

    • dsoffer - Feb 20, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      I completely agree, as a full season ticket holder, my last I guarantee, people don’t understand from the outside the issues going on for ticket holders in the Bronx. The new Yankee Stadium has lost all sight of what made games enjoyable. If I want to go to the game, face value for a decent seat in the upper deck, is close to 30 dollars!!! Forget any transportation, food, drinks, program, item for the kids…Where is the fun in going to games if everywhere I look around I am simply trying to avoid spending money just so I can go to games? I can enjoy the games from home and just buy tickets to games off of stubhub for cheaper than I am paying to the Yankees. The Yankees are losing hundreds of season ticket holders a year. In their pre-onsale they used to limit the tickets you can buy, now you can buy up to 19 tickets for ANY game. The demand is gone sadly.

      The message is simple, if you are going to start penny pinching on payroll, then give the fans a break as well because we can’t afford it anymore. It pains me because I’ve been a season ticket holder for over 25 years but I simply can’t do it anymore. The new Steinbrenner’s have lost all sight of reality which is you can’t charge insane prices for every game and expect people to show up regardless of talent or opponent. The attendance will only get worse as the prices keep going up or even remain stagnant, that is guaranteed.

      Are we spoiled? Sure, Braves fans are as well, and both have attendance issues, but I guarantee Yankee fans would go if prices were more realistic. People on the outside don’t see these issues, they only see what is shown on tv which is $2,000 dollar seats which used to cost under a 100 less than 10 years ago, all empty.

      • brueso - Feb 21, 2013 at 2:27 PM

        I’m a Yankees fan living in Seattle. Haven’t been able to get to the new Stadium, but gotta say I’m surprised when you talk about the prices. Those aren’t much higher than here in Seattle to see the (anemic) Mariners play at Safeco.

        I think alot of Yankees fans miss the day when you knew George was gonna do whatever he could to put the best team on the field. Things are somewhat different since he died, but maybe that’s not surprising- hardly any owners have been as fanatical about trying to put a great team on the field. So, inevitably, many fans are going to yearn for the ‘good old days’ when things comparatively seem a little off.

        For all the complaining you hear about the Yankees and their financial advantages, they are a ticket-selling machine for all the other teams in MLB, too. I know in Seattle, they sell more tickets when the NYY are here than at any other time in the season. And games against the NYY are probably some of the best games alot of teams play, too, because everyone steps it up when the NYY are playing, cause no one wants to lose to them.

  10. fruitcovejag - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Yes. But as long as they have the highest payroll, there will always be people jumping on the bandwagon. Get a salary cap baseball! What a joke America’s pastime has become!

    • cackalackyank - Feb 19, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      For highest payroll please see Dodgers, Los Angeles.

    • bh0673 - Feb 20, 2013 at 7:56 AM

      fruit I think before we entertain a salary cap we need to have a salary floor so owners like Jeff Loria are forced to invest in their teams which in turn would make things more competitive. The AL East this year should be interesting with all 5 teams fielding what looks like on paper decent teams.

  11. pooinyourface - Feb 19, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    LMAO you wait til NOW to ask this???

  12. 49ersgiants4life - Feb 19, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    There are empty seats cause it cost $200 a ticket for the second deck and that’s during the season so during the playoffs I bet the prices are insane

    • bh0673 - Feb 20, 2013 at 7:53 AM

      Try $600 per seat behind home plate behind the premium seats that run $1000

  13. jessethegreat - Feb 19, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    Are we Yankees fans spoiled? Yes we are. I blame the Steinbrenners for that, though. Cashman has been trying to spend wisely for years, but has consistently had his hand forced by the big boss man (R.I.P. George). Now, I know ownership does this because; they want more butts in the stands, and with more butts comes more profits, some of this has to be driven because they really want their team to be winners for their legacy and the fans, part might have to do with wanting to drive Mets fans insane, and the other to stop the tabloids.

    Boss man has done this all while putting a consistent almost yearly contender on the field the last almost two decades now. Of course the accomplishments feel watered down. This has let to the change of emotions when we merely advanced in the playoffs in 96 to disappointment when we don’t at least advance to the world series now.

    What I know: as a baseball fan, I can’t name one other ownership group that has given in to the fans demands as frequently as the Steinbrenners. None more dedicated in putting up the scratch in fielding a world series caliber roster.

    • bh0673 - Feb 20, 2013 at 8:01 AM

      Look George did something no owner was really willing to do at the time back in the 70’s and that was invest in his team. He took the $400 million he got from Dolan when MSG got the TV rights and put the money into the Yankees instead of his pocket and in return he increased the value of the Yankees and attendance. I remember going to many games where there were 14000 to 27000 on average, by investing in the team attendance went to 42000 to 46000 on average and the prestige and aura (if you want to use those terms) increased. I see the Steinbrenner kids not understanding that and I do think they will destroy the brand or sell it.

  14. deadrabbit79 - Feb 19, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    As a yankee fan i can say the those Yankee fans who grew up watching in the ’90s and ’00s, myself included, are very spoiled. However, i am actually a realist and i realize that winning every year is not realistic. And that whole thing about winning the world series or the season was a failure(started by the most bland captain in the history of sports) is commical. Its fun to watch them have to fight to the end to win the division instead of running away with it every year(also fun sometimes). I do not consider it my right as a yankee fan to win every year. Any fan who does is simply ignorant because its just not possible. NO MATTER HOW BIG THE PAYROLL IS!

  15. cowboyzshininstar - Feb 20, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    Yes spoiled Yankee fan here and proud. My only dislike are the postseason Yankee fans. They can stay the hell outta my ballpark⚾

  16. thebadguyswon - Feb 20, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Gonna enjoy watching them fall this year.

  17. brianabbe - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    I think the most laughable part here is how the “payroll expectations” sum up the spoiled fan factor in a nutshell. If you think that $185 million is not “investing in the team,” that’s pure insanity. The Yankees have a questionable product for the first time in a while due to aging and injured players taking up too much of the roster, not a lack of investment. I think it’s also worth pointing out that the best Yankee team of the past 50 years, the ’98 squad, did NOT have the highest payroll in the league. Fans respond to winning teams, not large payrolls. See Cardinals, St. Louis for any further questions.

  18. sgny1 - Feb 25, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    I grew up a Yankee fan. I loved Mickey Rivers when I was little and then Mattingly and Winfield as well when they came along. My room was filled with nothing but Yankee memorabilia as a child. My dad and I watched many games together before he died. When I became an adult I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a Saturday season package with a buddy of mine and did so for many years. I loved going to the old house. My seats were reasonably priced in the Main Reserved section and the stadium was electric on many different occasions. I’ll never forget the Division Series game against the Mariners that I went to in ’95. I can remember the place literally shaking that night. Many good memories in that park that I witnessed first hand. The pine tar game. The Clemens – Piazza incident. Too many to mention, but the excitement of being at the old stadium made the trips worthwhile. Then they decided to move into the new billion dollar park across the street. My plan was changed from the Saturday plan to a mid week plan and we ended up on the last row of the upper deck down the right field line. We were told to take it or leave it. So we took it and eventually moved back into the Saturday plan. It’s funny though, the new stadium, as grand and glorious as it is, never had the same feel. I was there in ’09 when they clinched the ALCS, and while it was loud, it didn’t feel like the old park, but I kept going hoping that the feel of the new park would change. It never did. The last game I went to was in 2011 and I remember thinking how much I was not looking forward to going that day. The new stadium was full of corporate people. I’m not bashing corporate America as I work in a white collar job myself. But the stadium was now filled with individuals who went to the game because it was an event, not because they were the real fans from across the street. That’s what it is now. A corporate park filled with people who don’t cheer or get excited like they did across the street. The Yankees got what they wanted, a beautiful park, but lost so much more with that move. Last summer I spent Saturdays doing other things outside like kayaking on a lake or hiking in the mountains and never once did I wish that I was at the stadium. The Yankees lost me and other friends of mine who canceled their plans as well with their greed. How much I’d love to go back and watch a game in the old park when real fans went to the games. And that is the reason that I believe that the new stadium is never full….

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