Both the Angels and Dodgers are off to poor starts this season, but the Dodgers have something important that the Angels do not: The best attendance of any team in Major League Baseball.
In case you missed it, the Dodgers are 17-22 and feature a list of injured stars including Hanley Ramirez and Zack Greinke (prior to Wednesday). Most tickets aren’t getting cheaper and it’s no easier to get in and out of Dodger Stadium than it was two years ago, when the Dodgers averaged 36,236 at every home game.
Yet the Dodgers’ average attendance of 42,706 through 24 home games is the best in the business. They became the first team to surpass 1,000,000 tickets sold on Wednesday. Their season-ticket base of approximately 31,000 is a major boost. So is Clayton Kershaw, whose six home starts attracted an average of 47,905 fans. The Dodgers’ average attendance in their other 18 home dates: 40,974.
We mention this only because fan loyalty in Southern California can’t be taken for granted.
The Angels’ average attendance of 37,232 represents 82 percent of capacity at the smaller Angel Stadium (the Dodgers are at 76.3 percent capacity), but these numbers are shrinking. A season-low 31,917 fans attended Wednesday’s loss to Kansas City. The Angels are averaging about 4,000 fewer fans per game in May than April (34,656 compared to 38,735).
Having been to most home games at both stadiums, I feel confident in writing that fans in Anaheim are leaving games early this season at a Chavez Ravine-like rate — with less traffic to beat. I also feel confident in writing that Angels players and coaches notice this.
The lesson for the Dodgers: Southern Californians will only tolerate losing to a point.
The lesson for the Angels: Trade for Clayton Kershaw.
Some bullet points for a Thursday morning:
• Dodgers manager Leo Durocher and Giants manager Mel Ott were both fired June 15, 1948, with Durocher taking over the Giants the following day. Circling to 2013 and the Angels and Dodgers both in need of a jolt, could the same thing happen with Don Mattingly and Mike Scioscia?
• Yesterday’s big news, ICYMI: Arte Moreno endorsed Scioscia.
• Interesting breakdown on MLB.com of how last year’s playoff teams performed quarter-by-quarter — that is, at roughly 40-game intervals throughout the season (40, 81, 121 and 162). The Braves last year won 17 games in the second quarter of the season and still made the playoffs. The Angels are at 15-25, which isn’t insurmountable, but the odds aren’t in their favor: Only six teams among the 42 that played in the last five postseasons had a losing record at the one-quarter marker.
• Oh, and did we mention that the Angels’ 11-game deficit through 40 games is their largest since 2001?
• Among Jayson Stark’s eight ways to improve umpiring: America’s Next top Arbiter?
• Here’s actor/comedian Ricky Gervais looking like David Bowie and singing a sweet British synth-pop tune called “Bitter Heart” in 1983.