We're four days into the 2013 baseball season but, in some cities, attendance is already in mid-season form. In other words: lagging. Sure, the Los Angeles Dodgers are averaging 50,491 per game, but other stadiums aren't so crowded. Thursday's Chicago Cubs/Pittsburgh Pirates game saw just 11,634 inside PNC Park.
Some of this is weather — it's still quite cold in some parts of the country. Some of this is the early-season affinity that schedule-makers have for afternoon baseball. Ditching work/school for a day at the park is novel on opening day, but unrealistic a few times a week.
According to Baseball Reference's math, attendance so far this season is down for 13 of the 15 teams who have played home games. The Dodgers and the Washington Nationals being the exceptions. Overall, attendance is down almost 150,000.
But here's the most interesting anecdote we dug up: The Seattle Mariners hosted a viewing party at Safeco Field on Monday night, which drew more people than five actual games this season.
The Mariners were playing on the road against the Oakland Athletics that night, but 15,376 people still showed up to Safeco to watch the game on a big ol' TV. In fact, the watch-party outdrew three of the Mariners games in Oakland (15,315 on Tuesday, 15,162 on Wednesday and 12,134 on Thursday).
Wednesday's Chicago White Sox/Kansas City Royals game (14,213) and the aforementioned Cubs/Pirates game from Thursday both had smaller crowds than the Mariners event.
Two other games barely beat out the Mariners' watch-party crowd: Texas Rangers/Houston Astros (15,831) and Baltimore Orioles/Tampa Bay Rays (15,599), both on Wednesday.
These are early signs that some of the teams that usually struggle to sell tickets — The A's and the Rays are two prime examples — will do so again in 2013. It could also mean that Mariners fans are more hungry for baseball this year. Perhaps those crazy Seattle Seahawks fans rubbed off on them?
It's worth noting that the San Francisco Giants had a similar viewing party on Monday, in the afternoon, and it drew 10,000 people while the team was playing at Dodger Stadium.
It'll be fascinating to see, by the time summer hits and baseball isn't new anymore, how many games draw less than that Giants viewing party.