Despite strong Orioles play, Jones contemplates sparse home crowds

ByEddie Matz ESPN logo
Thursday, September 22, 2016

BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Orioles have averaged 19,422 fans in the first two games of a key showdown with the Boston Red Sox. On Wednesday, Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones addressed the team's lackluster attendance.

"I'd say that it's just, it's a little, what's the right word to say it's a little, you know, not sad, just like, eerie, a little bit," said Jones, the team's longest-tenured player.

Jones added: "We grind and grind and grind. We understand, there's a lot that that factors into it. Ticket prices being higher, although you can bring in food and beverages. Marketing and promotions, I'm sure they're not the best. I get all that. I'm just saying, the city wanted a winner -- the last five years we got 'em a winner. I don't if know if they've gotten complacent already on us winning. I wish they haven't. I hope they haven't. Because winning is fun every single year, and being in this race is exciting every single year. So to the ones that come every night, thank you with open arms."

On Tuesday, Camden Yards drew a crowd of 20,387 for the second game of a four-game set with first-place Boston, putting the Orioles -- who made the playoffs in 2012 and 2014 -- over the 2 million mark in attendance for the fifth straight season. On the year, Baltimore ranks 20th in attendance.

Among teams currently in line for postseason berths, only the Cleveland Indians rank lower (28th).

"I've heard many different sides of it," Jones said. "It's due to school starting; weather, which is understandable; danger, which I don't see. I understand, but I don't necessarily see that. But at the end of the day, as a player, we're going out there, busting our tails. The fans' impact at Camden Yards is unbelievable. I think they know that. I think they understand that, and the players understand that. Obviously, this week and this last homestand, the last 11 games are arguably the most important games of the season.

"We've fought our tails off for 145 games to put ourselves into a unique situation as of September, and that's what you say. You want to play important September baseball. And part of September baseball, especially if you're in the heat [of a pennant race], is fans. That just is what it is. Every place you go, the fans are going to be there. When we were in Detroit, they were there for them. We go to Boston, usually Boston's one of the most desirable places to be at anyway, so they're there. I know when we go on the road to Toronto, we all know they're gonna be there. They've been there since basically the trade deadline last year."

The Orioles -- who enter play on Wednesday with a record of 82-69 and are in possession of the second American League wild-card spot -- are averaging 26,513 fans per game, which is nearly 4,000 fewer than in 2014. It's also 2,602 fewer than last year, which represents the fifth-largest drop-off in the majors. Of the four teams with bigger decreases (Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Minnesota and Cincinnati), none currently has a winning record.

Baltimore has two games left against Boston, then finishes its home schedule this weekend against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A previous version of the story had Jones saying the home attendance was "sad," but upon further review he ultimately said the dearth of Orioles fans at Camden Yards felt "eerie."