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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Big stadium, itty bitty attendance”

    Melissa Kruegerassistant sports editor
    Melissa Krueger
    assistant sports editor

    PHOENIX – Red Sox fans have their own nation. Yankees fans have their traditions. Dodger fans traditionally show up late and leave early. Arizona fans just don’t show up at all.

    Example: Wednesday night the Arizona baseball team played – and beat – in-state foe ASU a mere 100 miles north of Tucson at Chase Field.

    The attendance was nothing to shake your head at (4,296), but how many of those in attendance made the trip from Tucson? From what I could see – oh, wait, let me rephrase that – from what I couldn’t see, not nearly enough.

    It seemed like there were more ASU media relations people there than UA students – minus the faithful Hot Corner, of course.

    Shortstop Robert Abel said the crowd Wednesday “”was probably the largest crowd I’ve ever been in.””

    “”Not too many people show up when we’re in Tucson,”” he said.

    I understand that it’s baseball – you know, America’s pastime? – but I recall a certain lagging of attendance at UA basketball games, too.

    Seems like UA closer Daniel Schlereth was paying attention too. After discussing how UA students would “”jump on the bandwagon”” during the rare occasion the basketball team was playing well, then jump right off, he said he had higher expectations for Arizona students.

    “”Coming into a program like this, you expect good fans, but I guess that’s how it is in Tucson, or wherever,”” Schlereth said. “”If you’re winning, they’re going to go, but if you’re not – I mean hopefully we’ll get some fans out here, it’d just be nice to see some loyalty.””

    Loyalty is not a word I would use to describe Arizona’s student fans, but then again, it’s not just the students who don’t show up – it’s the whole state.

    During the entire game Wednesday, I was having flashbacks of 2004 when Chase Field was Bank One Ballpark, the year when the Diamondbacks lost 111 games.

    It’s also an amazing sight when the D-Backs start winning, season-tickets holder galore.

    But I’ll give it to ASU. Their fans came – early and late – and stayed Wednesday night.

    Granted they didn’t have to travel very far, as Chase is practically in ASU’s backyard, but it was still refreshing to see fans in this state show some devotion to a team that’s not the Suns.

    Baseball’s head coach Andy Lopez said he could hear the “”U of A”” chant, but it definitely wasn’t as loud as ASU fans in the bottom of the seventh inning when their team scored four runs to make the score 6-5 Arizona.

    Another bright spot in the Wildcats’ lacking fan base – oh, who am I kidding, the bright spot – is the Hot Corner.

    The group of students makes it out to every home game, sits on the third base line (hence the name) and heckles the opposing team.

    And I’m not talking about the “”heckling”” that goes on during the basketball game. (Who actually thinks the “”B-S”” chant is effective?) They do their research before a game.

    They ask a random shortstop from a random school why he hasn’t picked a major yet. Or a random center fielder from another random school why he enjoys video games so much.

    And at least once a game, on-deck batters are reminded that their pockets are untucked.

    Other than the Hot Corner, there wasn’t much representation for Arizona at Chase. Hey, at least Wilbur showed up for the game, right? Sparky can’t even say that.

    Watching the “”Fan Cam”” was even more embarrassing. I didn’t do the exact math, but every pan of the crowd showed that at least 95 percent of the fans in attendance were supporting the Sun Devils.

    What makes it even more ironic is that the game was technically a home game for the Wildcats. They were even wearing their home colors, pinstripes and all.

    If only the students could show up in their colors, maybe they could finally show the “”old people”” they deserve to have their own section during basketball games.

    So now that the entire state should be feeling guilty for its lack of sports enthusiasm, UA students get a second chance to express their devotion as the baseball team plays defending national champion Oregon State today through Sunday.

    Even if you hate baseball games – which just puzzles me in the first place – you can always just go for the food. This is America, and who doesn’t like hot dogs and Cracker Jacks?

    And if you think the players don’t notice fans in the stands – or lack thereof – you’re wrong.

    “”I would hope (people would come out), just to see support,”” Schlereth said. “”But as long as we’re winning, that’s what draws the fans, which is sad to say, but that’s how it is in life.””

    – Melissa Krueger is a junior majoring in journalism. She can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu. Additional reporting by Ryan Casey

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