Siberian Baseball

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I bet the Cubs got docked for their urinals

Sports Illustrated has released the results of their recent online fan survey, which set out to rank the overall baseball experience for each team in the majors.

The big winner? Cleveland. Who knew?

One strange piece to this puzzle is that they ask the home fans for each team to rank their experience, which is fine, but then questions are posed in a manner that ranks the response on a below average/average/above average basis.

Take the giveaways section as an example. Let's say a Twins fan is asked to rank the Minnesota giveaways - what are they being compared to? It's a small thing, but I'd have been happier just asking fans if they were satisfied or not and by how much. If the whole point is that the home fans weigh in, it doesn't make much sense to have them rank their team like that without any real control of the baseline.

Put simply, when Frankie and I went to Sox and Cubs games on the same day, the Southsiders gave us nothing and the Northsiders gave us cool ski caps. If that's the only day I head to the Cell, then the Cubs are much, much better in my eyes. Now, how am I supposed to know if they're average or above when compared to a ballpark I've never been to?

Also, wouldn't this penalize teams whose fans were honest with regards to fan knowledge or hospitality? I guess it's not a competition, but there are a few questions I had reading through tonight.

That aside, it's a fun survey and has a few surprises. The older ballparks, lauded for their old time charm are knocked in the rankings for failing amenities.

The White Sox are given top marks for traffic - with a 47.9 percent ranking for public transit options - which struck me as odd, especially compared to other cities where I've driven to the ballparks. Proving that it's all relative, the Cubs were 23rd, but had better marks for public transportation options which are pretty much exactly the same as they are at The Cell.

Rounding out the rest of the crosstown rivalry, the White Sox took second in the league for food, eighth for atmosphere and fourth for fan IQ and promotions.

The Cubs were third for tradition, sixth for atmosphere and eighth for fan IQ. The Cubs blew out the Southsiders in the neighborhood, ranking second to 23rd for the Sox.

I'm sure I'll revisit this later in the week, because there are all sorts of gems to be mined here - for now, I'll just leave it with a wise fan who was commenting on fan hospitality at the Friendly Confines - "by the bleachers, they are farm animals."

(Image from: Syracuse.com)

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3 Comments:

  • Very interesting stuff. I think the Sox advantage on traffic is probably a comparative item that only Chicagoans would notice - it's not necessarily a breeze to park at the Cell compared to, say, a ballpark in a smaller town in absolute terms, but if you want to, you definitely can. In contrast, the area around Wrigley might very well be the worst place to park in all of Chicago even when the Cubs AREN'T playing, much less when a game is going on. So, in the eyes of a Chicagoan, the perception is that it's very easy to park at the Cell considering how congested the city is in general while no one in their right minds would ever drive to Wrigley (which I think is a fair statement). Meanwhile, the other two-team cities (NY, LA and SF) have pretty much the same types of parking situations between the ballparks (i.e. it's not measurably better to park at Shea versus Yankee Stadium, which is reflected in the survey). Also, any popular team is going to be docked on affordability right off the bat - only the Red Sox and the two New York teams are worse than the Cubs (while the top 5 are KC, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Tampa and Oakland - all clubs with serious attendance problems).

    By Anonymous Frank the Tank, At Thursday, May 01, 2008 10:11:00 AM  

  • Exactly, which just underlines the problems with this type of survey. As interesting as it is, if you don't travel and see other parks, you have no real frame of reference.

    Take The Cell versus the Hump Dome - while the Red Line is great and the stadium is right off the Dan Ryan, it really can't hold a candle to the Dome.

    It was a short jaunt off the expressway (or right down the road from my old job) and there was little to no congestion on gameday. Parking was $4 to walk two or three city blocks, every day. While the Cell has a lot that the Cubs do not, I can't imagine ever, ever parking there for $4. To park across the street from the Dome? $10. Playoffs were something like $6.
    Aside from minor traffic snarls after games, the whole thing was in and out.
    I just can't say that The Cell is any better than anywhere but Wrigleyville.

    By Blogger Minneapolis Red Sox, At Thursday, May 01, 2008 10:56:00 AM  

  • I pretty much agree, although I do think a sliding scale ought to be applied. When you consider that Chicago (and specifically, the stretch from the Dan Ryan to the Circle interchange) is one of the worst traffic spots in the entire country, the flow in and out of Sox games is pretty good taking into account the number of people passing through and the highly congested location. Comparatively, the Twins averaged about 5,000 fewer fans per game in an area where there are fewer cars passing by everyday, so I think the fact that it might be easier to get in and out of Twins games is more due to the fact that there are just significantly fewer people to deal with as opposed to pretty good traffic planning by Sox and city officials (I know that they spent a lot of time getting that in order). Also, prices for both parking and tickets are simply going to be different when you're in a place like Chicago or New York versus Minneapolis (which ties into the affordability issue that I noted before) - the less popular the team or the smaller the city, the cheaper everything is going to be.

    That being said, smaller cities can definitely make parking situations hellish. I'm looking at you, Champaign, Illinois.

    By Anonymous Frank the Tank, At Friday, May 02, 2008 9:28:00 AM  

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