A midweek afternoon game in Miami between the Marlins and the Phillies—the fourth- and fifth-place teams in the National League East, respectively—was never going to draw much of a crowd, given the matchup, the time and the fact that the Marlins have successfully chased away most of their fans over the last six years thanks to a combination of inept management, poor on-field results, an owner who sued his own season ticketholders last season and refuses to spend to improve the team on the field, and the third out-and-out fire sale in the franchise's brief existence. But even by the low standards the Marlins have set for themselves, the dearth of spectators for yesterday's 10–2 Miami win was shocking to see.
If you're thinking to yourself, "Boy, that is not a lot of people at this baseball game," you'd be correct. During the game, Associated Press reporter Steve Wine took it upon himself to count up all the fans he could see from Marlins Park's pressbox, and the number he arrived at is comically low:
For the record, those 1,590 souls would represent the lowest attendance for an MLB game since Sept. 5, 1989, when the Braves (en route to 97 losses and a last-place finish in the NL West) played host to the Padres in front of just 1,528 fans at Fulton County Stadium.
The Marlins, for their part, announced the official attendance at 15,197—still a paltry gathering, but a massive improvement over Wine's tally. But even with the truth somewhere in between, it's clear that not many people made the effort to go to Marlins Park to root for a team that started the day 10 games under .500 and already well out of the race for the division, as you can see in this shot of the park from just before first pitch.
Bad attendance at Marlins games is nothing new, either for this season or overall. On the year, Miami has seen just 539,452 people go through the turnstiles at Marlins Park, a figure that ranks dead last in the NL and 26th in baseball, and the team's per-game average of 20,748 beats only the A's (who play in what is sometimes a literal toilet) and the Rays. The Marlins have never finished a season in their franchise history ranked any higher than 18th in attendance, and their best per-game figure over the last 24 years came in 2012, when they averaged 27,400 fans a contest. And that's despite opening a new state-of-the-art stadium that same year, one that the city of Miami shelled out nearly $500 million for up front and will cost its residents well over $2 billion over the next 30 years to repay the bonds needed to finance the construction. The deal was so bad that Miami-Dade voters elected the leading opponent of the financial plan, City Commissioner Tomas Regalado, as city mayor in 2009 over Marlins-endorsed candidate and stadium supporter Joe Sanchez, then tossed out county mayor Carlos Alvarez, who also supported the Marlins Park boondoggle, in a special recall election in '11.
It's worth noting that despite all of those appalling numbers, the Marlins are the subject of a bidding war between a number of groups—including one led by Derek Jeter and, at one point, featuring former Florida governor Jeb Bush—that will likely result in current owner Jeffrey Loria selling the team at the end of the year for somewhere north of $2 billion. As such, it's hard to imagine he cares particularly much about how few people there are willing to shell out their hard-earned cash to see a bad team play out the string. After all, come next season, those awful attendance figures will likely be someone else's problem.