So why are the A's doing better? It's not on-field performance since the A's have the same 37-31 mark as they did at this juncture last season. There are a few possible explanations:
- Yankees. Last season's opening homestand featured the Yanks, who sold out all three games. However, this robbed the A's of an additional sellout because they could've had any team visit on opening night and have gotten a sellout. This season, the Yanks were the second team in, allowing the A's to have four sellouts during the first homestand (3 Yankees, 1 White Sox). Each sellout represents an additional 10,000+ attendees.
- Red Sox. The Red Sox did not visit the Coliseum in 2006 until the second half, and the series was your garden variety weekday, three-game set. This season's visit from the Sox was also a weekday set, but it was four games, not three. Surprisingly, there were no sellouts this time despite the Sox holding the best record in baseball when they visited (though Sox fans were by no means underrepresented).
- Weather. Some have dismissed my theory that weather plays a part, but there definitely appears to be some effect, albeit one difficult to measure. The dry spring we've had in California has been much more conducive to bringing out casual fans than the wet spring of 2006. Temperatures have been fairly steady (cool), but rain has to be a huge deterrent. Simply watch the A's day-of-game ticket operations when rain has fallen prior to a game. There's a difference.
As well as the turnstile performance has looked, expect the curve to flatten out over the rest of the season. The A's are on pace to break 2 million. Once again, the A's second half on-field performance will play a factor. Should they remain close in a race with the Angels and Mariners, the fans will come. If not, 2 million could be a reach.
This week's series against the Reds should find the gap between 2007 and 2006 shrinking ever so slightly. The weather forecast? More of the usual for Monday and Tuesday, temps around 60 degrees at first pitch and dropping down a few ticks by the end of each game.