Sports Outside the Beltway

Nobody cares? Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh 4-1 in front of sparse crowd

The Pirates have won only 3 of 21 games they have played this month. From AP-

Bronson Arroyo limited Pittsburgh to one run over seven innings and the Cincinnati Reds completed their second sweep of the plummeting Pirates in less than a month, winning 4-1 on Thursday to push the Pirates closer to a 100-loss season.

Joey Votto had a two-run double following Drew Sutton’s RBI double in a four-run third inning against Charlie Morton (4-9) as the Reds won their eighth in a row against the last-place Pirates. The Reds are 15 games ahead of the Pirates in the NL Central standings after falling behind them following a loss on Aug. 22.

Since then, fourth-place Cincinnati is 21-10 — although it remain only one loss away from a ninth consecutive losing season — and Pittsburgh is 5-25. Five more losses by the Pirates will give them 100 on the year.

Pittsburgh, long since assured of a record 17th consecutive losing season, has lost six in a row, nine of 10 and 23 of 26 amid the franchise’s worst September spinout since it was 5-22 in September 1998.

The Pirates have obviously given up for 2009. Speaking from experience, it’s hard to impossible to remain interested in a game or a sport you’re competing in if the outcome is of little or no value. In such situations, the usual inclination is to put up no more effort than is absolutely necessary.

At least for the Pirates’ sake, there weren’t many spectators. The paid attendance was 15,892, but the turnstile count was about 3,000

So Pirate fans are about as enthusiastic as the players are about the closing games of the 2009 season. Or is there another factor at work?

the G-20 summit being staged in downtown Pittsburgh held down the turnout.

The crowd was so small that the Pirates closed PNC Park’s upper deck for the first time since the 38,362-seat ballpark opened in 2001 and allowed fans to sit in the lower level.

Were all fans allowed to sit at field level? May as well, it might encourage people to come back to a game next September when the Pirates are again out of the playoff race.

Crowds of under 1,000 are not unheard of for a MLB game. I remember Atlanta Braves games in the 1970′s being played before such small crowds. A no-hitter in the 1960′s was also played before like 1-2,000 fans.

Fans had to go through metal detectors to enter the park. Combine that with the inconveniences caused by the G-20 summit and the meaninglessness of any games the Pirates play this year, I don’t blame Pittsburgh baseball fans for staying home today.

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