Dear George Bateman [Ticker Sales Coordinator; Inland Empire 66ers]:
I think it is safe to say that the California Burrito Night was a smashing success, largely in part because I was one the celebrity panel of judges. I bet when word got out that I was on the panel, the 66ers had at least 1000 tickets sold in walkup sales. I just have that sort of pull in the community. I attended the game Friday also and over 4000 people showed up. I did not go Sunday, and only 1,200 showed up. Coincidence? I think not. It is a good think I am well grounded, or being one the panel might have gone to my head. I hope GM Joe was not upset I received louder cheers than he during our introductions.
Sure, the weather might have a small factor on the attendance on Sunday, but even if it had not been raining, I think there would have been less than 2,500 tickets sold. Look, I know if has been an abnormally wet spring, and every minor league team has experienced its share of lost ticket sales due to inclement weather, but minor league front offices shaking their fists at the sky has become unsightly. You know who also used to blame it in the rain? Milli Vanilli, and look what happened to them. When bad weather spills into multiple years, it is no longer an anomaly, it is a trend.
True fact: in 1997, one of the wettest years on record in California, the Inland Empire 66ers drew 273,736 fans, averaging 3,910 a game, and were fourth in the California League in attendance. The dreaded Rancho Cucamonga Quakes led the league in attendance with 404,525 (5,778). These days, the 66ers cannot even average 2,900 a game for a season with an extended Mike Trout rehab with the 66ers.
So what changed in the last twenty years in the California League? Well, back then baseball fans were still righteously pissed at the Major Leagues for the cancellation of the World Series in 1994, and were flocking to minor league games. Soon, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa would start injecting their asses with steroids and save Major League Baseball because chicks dig the long ball. Today, there is an exodus of MLB fans because the product has become as bloated as the carcass of Led Zeppelin in the post Physical Graffiti years. Unfortunately, Minor League Baseball has become fat itself, living off large group sales, corporate sponsorships that could dissipate with changing tax laws, and unsustainably high concession prices.
While a return the golden age of Cal League attendance is unlikely, the time is right to ensure a great deal of that MLB money gets into MiLB coffers. People are tired of paying $10 for a beer at the ballpark. Hell, they are tired of paying $9.00 for one on a Saturday night at San Manuel Stadium, but this missive is shockingly not about slashing beer prices; it Is about fully embracing the outlaw spirit with Sunday games. However, I have run out of time to go into great detail, but think Biker Sundays! And Shoplifters Unite!
Your friend in baseball,
PS: Do you know what was the best part of the California Burrito Night? We formally met during the Beer Mile!