Taken from The Dori Monson Show.
The Mariners got off to this hot start and we were all excited, and I was thinking this will pay off for them opening weekend. It was a gorgeous Saturday night. The game started at 6 o’clock so it was still warm in the ballpark, and I flipped on the game, and I saw way more empty seats than I was expecting.
It turns out they only had 22,000 at the game on Saturday night despite having gotten off to one of their best starts in years. We had the third lowest attendance of any team that hosted a baseball game Saturday night.
So I’m trying to figure out why that is, why are people not buying in?
It’s very possible a big part of it is more than a decade of futility. They haven’t been to the playoffs in forever. Maybe people are just in a wait-and-see mode. We’ve been burned for the last 10 years. We’re not going to spend a bunch of money until we see this team is the real deal.
But all around baseball, there are other teams that have had equally long strings of futility and yet they had huge crowds on Saturday night. The only two teams that had worse attendance on Saturday were the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins.
So the Mariners have this very weak attendance start, and I’m pretty confident I know one reason why there’s a huge disconnect.
The New York Yankees, the gold standard of baseball franchises, they have this no-facial-hair policy and one reason they have it – and Steinbrenner talked about this a lot – is that he had a theory that one reason for baseball’s appeal is that the player’s look like you and me.
Baseball players were the most relatable. When you think about when this city just clicked with baseball back in 1995 through 2001, you know exactly what every one of the players looked like. If I say Dave Valle, Dan Wilson, Bret Boone, Joey Cora, immediately you can get a picture in your head of all those guys.
So I was watching the game this weekend and one thing I know is marketing to mass audiences, and relatability is a huge part of it, and I’m watching and there are all these guys with these clownish, ridiculous looking lumberjack beards. It’s like a wall. It’s like a visual wall between the players and the fans that didn’t exist before.
The Mariners are even embracing it. They’re doing this beard hat night. They even sent us one, which was very nice of them. But it’s a hat, where you put it on, and it’s got a bright yellow fake beard, face-warmer, that you can pull down.
Players aren’t starting to do this because they just felt the muse to grow ridiculous beards. It’s just this trendy thing. And I’m telling you – I am positive, from a marketing standpoint, that in the sport where it’s most important to look like the guys in the cubicle next to you, beards aren’t helping draw fans.
Taken from Monday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.