Well, it's been a while since someone from one of Wisconsin's news publications said something that was stupid on a nearly galactic level. I was wondering if maybe. . .just maybe. . .they had increased their level of journalistic integrity over on the other side of the river.
Enter Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette and his wonderfully intelligent, well-thought out article entitled "Minnesota Has 10,000 Lakes and Fair-Weather Fans." And by "wonderfully intelligent, well-thought out article," what I really mean is "an article that, if printed out, wouldn't be worthy of wiping one's rear end with." I can only assume that Vandermause is German for "hack."
Now, like most of you, I love me my Minnesota sports, and with that being the case, I feel compelled to defend my adopted home state against the sort of garbage that this guy is attempting to perpetuate. So, let's break this down, shall we?
A trip to the Metrodome last week told me everything I need to know about Minnesota sports fans.
The Twins, who have won four division titles in the past six years, were riding a nine-game winning streak heading into their series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday and had climbed within a half-game of first place in the American League Central Division.
Yet for all the excitement the Twins were generating, just 30,000 fans bothered to show up on a summer weekend evening.
The Metrodome should have been buzzing with electricity, but more than one-third of the seats were vacant. If not for a sizable contingent of Brewers fans in attendance, this gathering might have been mistaken for a wake.
It provided more evidence that fans in Minnesota are fickle, fair-weathered and faint-hearted.
We apologize to Mr. Vandermause for the fact that, within the state of Minnesota, there are actually more things to do than drink beer and watch sports. People go to the lake, for example. . .after all, there are 10,000 to choose from. . .or enjoy some of the numerous cultural activities within the Twin Cities themselves. Honestly, other than the mold that covers the various cheeses over there, what kind of culture does Milwaukee (or Wisconsin in general) really have? Do they have a Laverne and Shirley tour that people can go on or something?
Unless their teams are winning championships, the sun is shining and the sky is blue, Minnesota fans barely show evidence of a pulse.
It's comical, and sad, that although Friday's game was played indoors, pregame showers likely kept potential fans from attending. Minnesotans apparently don't want to be inconvenienced by a few raindrops while walking from the parking ramp to the stadium.
Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that Twins fans have come to realize something over the past few years. . .that a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers is the baseball equivalent of a bye week. Hell, if the Twins could play in the NL Central rather than the vastly superior AL Central, they'd probably win 100 games a year and attendance wouldn't be an issue at all.
Just think what will happen when the Twins move to their new open-air stadium in 2010. Fans accustomed to a climate-controlled 70-degree atmosphere will be forced to battle the elements in April and May, and the guess is many will choose to stay home.
Which is why the people of Minneapolis voted to, you know, help fund an outdoor stadium in the first place, right? Did this guy do any research at all?
Can you imagine how elated Brewers fans would be if they received even a sniff of the success the Twins have enjoyed?
Yes, the Brewers. . .despite a fancy new stadium. . .haven't even sniffed the post-season since yours truly was in kindergarten. During that same time period, the Twins and their "fairweather fans" and their "terrible stadium" have put up two World Series championship banners (including winning the greatest World Series in the history of baseball) and have won numerous division titles.
The numbers don't lie. The Brewers (35,000 average attendance) are drawing a whopping 40 percent more fans than the Twins (25,000) this year. Since 2002, the Brewers have finished a combined 104 games under .500, while the Twins have been a combined 104 games over .500. Despite the huge disparity in records over that seven-season span, the Brewers have posted higher attendance figures in all but one year.
Here's some more numbers that don't lie:
The Milwaukee Brewers opened Miller Park in 2001. Miller Park has a capacity of 43,000. The Brewers hosted the MLB All-Star Game in 2002. In Miller Park’s inaugural season the Brewers sold 2,811,041 tickets, averaged 34,704 fans per game and played to 81.7 percent of Miller Park’s capacity. The honeymoon was over quickly for the Brewers and fans buying tickets to Brewers games to experience what it was like to attend a game at Miller Park.
Despite hosting baseball’s mid-summer classic in 2002, the Brewers experienced one of the biggest single season attendance drops in Major League Baseball history in 2002. The Brewers sold 1,969,153 tickets, averaged 24,310 fans per game and experienced an average attendance drop of nearly 25 percent -- playing to 57.2 percent of Miller Park’s capacity. The Brewers were a terrible team on the field in the years preceding their move to Miller Park and haven’t won more than 81 games (they finished at 81/81 in 2005), since the 1992 season. Brewers’ fans have been forced to endure 14 consecutive seasons of losing baseball. Brewers’ fans are proof sports fans won’t get fooled again.
I'm sure a lot of people loved Miller Park, up until the point that they remembered that the Brewers play their home games there.
Oh, and another number that doesn't lie? Can anyone tell me which team was the first American League team to draw over 3 million fans in a season? That's right. . .it was the Minnesota Twins. And they did it in 1988, a season in which they finished in second place in the AL West. If you're trying to find the last time the Brewers drew 3 million fans, you won't find it. . .because the next time it happens will be the first time.
But, Vanderhack doesn't just limit himself to the Twins. . .
Minnesota's finicky attitude isn't limited to baseball. The Vikings are the toast of the town when they're successful, but if the team tanks on the field, fans leap off the bandwagon in droves.
The Green Bay Packers, in contrast, have sold out every season ticket at Lambeau Field since 1960, in good times and in bad. It speaks to the character of Wisconsin fans that their devotion isn't swayed, no matter the record or weather conditions.
The Vikings have their share of diehard followers. But the team struggles every year to sell all of their tickets, an indication there's a serious crack in the fan base. It speaks to the character of a large group of Minnesota fans whose support is conditional and depends on which way the wind is blowing. Or in the case of the Twins and Vikings at the Metrodome, which way the air ducts are venting the heat.
The "sellout streak" thing is hilarious, regardless of how many times it's pointed out. Sure, the tickets might have been sold, but there were plenty of times during the 80s that those "fans" showed up to Lambeau Field dressed up as empty seats. And who can forget that glorious 2004 playoff game between the Vikings and the Packers, where Green Bay got embarassed and the stadium was half-empty before halftime? And the ones that DID stick around were booing their team off the field. "Speaking to the character of Wisconsin fans," indeed.
And, keep in mind that the Packers used to play a couple of games a year in Milwaukee. . .a practice that was stopped because those games never sold out, and never really even came close. "Speaking to the character of Wisconsin fans," indeed.
Also, there's the "season ticket waiting list" thing. I know that I said that there wasn't a lot to do in Milwaukee, but the veritable plethora of things there are to do in Green Bay make Milwaukee look like Paris.
In his efforts to blow the "Wisconsin is great and Minnesota sucks" horn, this fool has attempted to generalize the entire fan base, and in the process has made himself look like a complete idiot. Do the Vikings have some bandwagon type fans? Sure, they do. Do the Packers have bandwagon fans? They most certainly do, and anyone that says that that franchise is above that kind of thing is either lying or fooling themselves. Every team in pretty much every sport has bandwagon, fairweather fans. Trying to label an entire fanbase as "fairweather" is a relatively stupid thing to attempt, and goes to show why this guy is writing for a newspaper with about the same level of circulation as the Fargo Forum.
Feel free to hoist this guy on his own ret. . .er, petard, folks. We'll hopefully be back with more later on.