05 February 2009

Angular Mannymentum

The attendance even in Los Angeles -- because they were averaging around 41,000 or 42,000 -- it went up to 48,000 or 49,000 the minute he got there. I mean, the very day he got there it went up 6,000 And you're talking about $50 or $60 a head. **--see below for chain of custody of quote

That's Boras talking there, and I think we all know who the he is. Spin is Boras's middle name, both for what his head does when he sits up in bed in the middle of the night and for the words that come out of his mouth. There are two strategies of verbal spin, and Boras employs them both. He exaggerates the magnitude of numbers and also isolates them from meaningful context.

I'm going to apply some torque to Boras's spin by find out what the numbers really are, and then attempt to put them into their proper context. First I will look at yearly Dodger attendance in this decade.

Dodger Stadium Attendance

Year --- average per game
2001 --- 37253
2002 --- 38655
2003 --- 38748
2004 --- 43065
2005 --- 44489
2006 --- 46401
2007 --- 47617
2008 --- 46056

There is a trend here that ended in 2008. Say, Manny joined the Dodgers in 2008. So Dodger attendance rose every year this decade until the year Manny joined the Dodgers. Therefore Manny hurt attendance!

That's ridiculous, but that's also what the numbers seem to say if they are isolated from context. Before going into that context, I think it's worth examining another conclusion that one could draw from the numbers. Here it is: Frank McCourt bought the Dodgers before the 2004 season. By far the greatest increase in attendance came between 2003 and 2004. So McCourt's decisions have increased attendance. Therefore McCourt has made the Dodgers more popular than ever!

I don't know if that's true or not. One problem is that it's a little too pat --- one would expect ownership changes to maybe take a year or a few to start having real effects, maybe? And there are outside forces at work that I don't know how to compensate for. If Dodger attendance falls this year it may well be the economy that drives it, not any decisions by management. Perhaps a similar case could be made for the increase in 2004. Whatever the truth, I have a feeling that the McCourts look at those attendance numbers and conclude that they are doing the right thing most of the time.

Boras framed the Manny effect with an in-season attendance breakdown, and of course that's not a bad way to do it. Let's get the numbers right first, though, okay?

Dodger average attendance pre-Manny in 2008 was 44577. ( Not 41 or 42 thousand something. ) Average Dodger attendance post-Manny was 49370. That is an increase of 4793 fans per game. That's a lot; it sure seems like a real effect.

But wait, Manny joined the team August 1, and the Dodgers were involved in an exciting division race in August and September. Maybe attendance spiked because of that. Or maybe attendance is usually higher the last two months of the season regardless. The obvious way to add context to our Manny breakdown is to examine the attendance change the last two months of the season in years when there was no possible Manny-effect.

Year --- pre-Aug -- Aug+Sep --- increase

2006 --- 45466 --- 48380 --- 2914
2007 --- 46730 --- 49391 --- 2661
2008 --- 44577 --- 49370 --- 4793

We don't know for sure, but it sure seems likely that Dodger attendance would have increased by about 2700 even without Manny around. Without Manny maybe the Dodgers would have faded from the race by mid September, but the same happened in 2007 too. I think a reasonable ( and tentative ) conclusion is that Manny added about 2000 fans per game. And sold a lot of wigs.

** --- The chain of custody for this quote is Jon Weisman <-- Rob Neyer <-- New York Daily News <-- Scott Boras <-- Nehchazgor, meaning that I followed a link provided on Dodger Thoughts to a blog entry by Neyer which contained a quote from a New York newspaper attributed to Scott Boras who was instructed on what to say by the demon Nehchazgor.

1 comment:

Xeifrank said...

Intersting! How about looking at average attendance per wins, or per games finished out of playoff spot. Something along those lines.
vr, Xei