Dear everybody

On July 31, with the St. Louis Cardinals — the team with the best record in the National League — in town, the Dodgers announced a crowd of 44,543 on a day the stands appeared closer to half-empty at the 56,000-seat stadium. They also announced attendance of 47,877 for a game three days earlier against the Cincinnati Reds, but huge chunks of the right-field pavilion and the new luxury seats beyond third base were unoccupied, with blocks of empty seats sprinkled throughout each level of the stadium….

National League teams announced an actual turnstile count through 1992, MLB spokesman Rich Levin said. But the National League and American League have since consolidated business operations, and Major League Baseball defines attendance as “tickets sold,” not “tickets used.”

“It’s because of revenue sharing,” Levin said. “That’s what we use in our official count.”

Bill Shaikin, L.A. Times, Aug. 23, 2005.

Dear everybody,

Very often a baseball team announces an attendance for a game that seems way higher than the number of people who are actually at the game. I realize this is funny or strange or concerning to you, so you note it in your blog or newspaper column or talk-radio monologue. But for better or worse, Major League teams announce the paid attendance at games — the number of tickets sold, not the number of asses in seats — and have, I believe, for every game since 1992.

So if the paid attendance figure seems to have no bearing on the number of people actually in attendance at a ballgame, you can feel free to either dismiss it entirely, or note it and mention without snark that the figure represents tickets sold, as per standard baseball practice and not any conspiracy peculiar to that baseball team.

I know you’re not actually listening to me, everybody, but I wish you would because you just keep bringing up this same distinction between announced attendance and actual attendance like you’re the first person to ever notice it, when meanwhile Maury Brown wrote a whole thing last year explaining why it happens and how it’s actually worse in other sports.

Good day, and I look forward to seeing photographs of your cats.


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