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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

July 7, 2010 at 10:17 AM

So, who are these “fans” who go to Mariners games?

The decision last night by a fan to potentially cost the Mariners a game by reaching for a souvenir rather than allowing Ichiro to try to score on a Russell Branyan double got me thinking: who exactly are these 17,555 who showed up for a Tuesday night battle of bad teams?
We’ve had some discussions on here about the fan base in recent days and I’ve heard some talk about how the fans at home are different from the ones at Safeco Field. It goes without saying that a lot of the fans who write in here, and to other places in the blogosphere like Seattle Sports Insider, USS Mariner or Lookout Landing, are harder core fans than some of those I’ve seen at Safeco Field. You know, the ones who aren’t sure whether Yuniesky Betancourt or Willie Bloomquist ever played for Seattle before. Or, the ones too busy talking on their cellphones to cheer.
But what exactly constitutes “hard core”?
I just got an email five minutes ago from a blog reader chewing me out for suggesting the Mariners have to trade Cliff Lee.
Good grief. What in the world have you been smoking. Even the absent minded thought of trading Lee for any minor leaguers is absurd. If it comes to that he will remain in Seattle until the season is over.
What next will you write? Lee traded to team X for a bat boy and two ball girls?

The letter goes on to admonish me for being “a rumor mongerer” and implores me to “talk some sense.”
So, even after volumes of explanation on this blog about how Lee won’t be re-signed, the team needs holes filled and how this isn’t just a team decision, but in the hands of a player who can command a $100-million salary at season’s end, some of the tens of thousands who read this space daily still believe it makes sense to keep Lee all season.
What does that say about their hard core nature? Do they truly understand the modern MLB game and the M’s place in it? Are they any wiser than some of the folks at Safeco Field who rob their team of a possible tying run, or wonder aloud whether that Bloomquist guy used to “play for our team”?
Yeah, we make fun of some of the casual fans for their desire to line up in the street hours before gametime in order to secure a bobblehead doll. But doesn’t that make them hard core? I mean, how many of you would line up in the street to see an M’s game these days.
Here’s the bigger question.
Photo Credit: AP

Are the 17,555 who attended last night’s game helping or hurting the final product?
After all, as some of you have pointed out, we don’t want to see the M’s go the way of the Sonics. And if people stop going to games altogether, it’s feasible that this could happen (though I’ll remind everyone once again, the Sonics left largely because they could not get their own, taxpayer-built venue the way the M’s did — which for me, largely stops that “go or they will leave” argument in its tracks).
But I will give in to the point that if 2,000 people show up nightly, the franchise will be in serious trouble.
So then, those folks, even the ones who grab doubles and rob their team of runs, are actually the “hard core” types, aren’t they? After all, they are the ones spending three hours of their lives and many dollars out of their pockets to sustain a team that is going absolutely nowhere this year. In the end, aren’t they the ones I should be seeking opinions from, no matter how far-fetched some of them may seem?
Or, should I be listening to those of you who spend hours on here each day, arguing over the details of every move made by the franchise? After all, the secret to a team’s success and failures is often in the details. And if those details receive no scrutiny, what’s to stop a team from taking the easy way out?
Are any of you “hard core” blog readers actually going to games? Or, do you believe that buying tickets will encourage the team to keep doing business as usual? In other words, do you believe that you are doing yourselves and the team a favor in the long run by exercising a little tough love in the short term?
I’m truly curious, because I see a lot of passion coming out from the people I read on here, but not all that much of it at the games themselves.
So, are any of you actually going to games? Or, do you go in such small percentages that you can’t be seen or heard?
And if you aren’t going to games, are you a true, “hard core” fan of the team? Can you honestly expect the Mariners to care about what you think, if you are just a distant fan seeking a free night’s entertainment as opposed to being an actual paying customer?
Because that sounds like me staring at a Ferrari in the window, then expecting the manufacturers to care what I think about their design when I keep buying Nissan Altimas. Of course, if Ferrari took the price down, I might buy their cars…
And in the end, isn’t that the key? Aren’t good businesses supposed to seek out your patronage by making their product something you want to buy?
Thing is, if I was running the Mariners, my counter-argument might be, “made a profit last year. I’m running my business just the way I like, thank you.”
To which my alter-ego, the blogging fan, might say “Yeah, but you used my tax dollars to subsidize your business.”
And on and on we go. There is no end to this debate. No easy answer summed up in a two-paragraph post for those of you who like everything nice, neat and black and white.
Which is why I want to hear your take. Am I too hard on Seattle fans when I suggest they should be a little more “aware” of what’s going on, both at the ballpark and on issues like payroll cutting? Is there really a clear distinction to be drawn between those paying to go see games and those staying home and watching for free? Is one set harder core than the other?
And do any of you see things ever changing? Are you content to just let things stay as they are, arguing that Seattle fans are acceptable in their present form and have no say/influence/voice in how the team is run? Or do you believe that a louder voice, through blogging (no matter how off-the-wall some of the stuff written here can be) will ultimately lead to a more-informed and intelligent fanbase.
That last sentence is not meant to give you all an “out” in this discussion. If you really think the grassroots and newspaper blogs in Seattle are seeds to one of the more intelligent fan bases in the country, I still want to know how that’s going to change anything here if they aren’t the ones buying tickets.



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