San Diego Padres: Small market woes

May 6, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; A general view of Petco Park during the seventh inning between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; A general view of Petco Park during the seventh inning between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The unfortunate reality is that the San Diego Padres are never going to get the same amount of attention as the Yankees or Dodgers due to being in a small market. Still, local media could do a much better job.

It’s common knowledge that the San Diego Padres are no major market baseball team. No matter how good they are or how many fans attend their games, the reality is that the Friars will never get nearly as much attention as clubs like the Yankees, Cubs, or Dodgers.

Fans have grown accustomed to this inevitability and have even embraced it to a degree. After all, a professional sports organization who rarely receives recognition from national media can bring a community together.

This is especially true for the Padres, who reside in a San Diego community which just lost their beloved Chargers football team. As the only professional sports organization at the highest level, the Padres are now even more so a staple of the community.

Despite this, the Padres are seeing dips in attendance. This season, they rank 12th in the National League so far averaging just under 25,000 fans a game. Last season, they ranked 8th, and drew in almost 5,000 more fans a game.

What is to blame for the drop off? Clearly not a losing baseball team. Even though the Padres are on pace to lose 90 games again, their exciting young talent ought to bring more fans in the gates of Petco Park. Plus, with the departure of the Chargers, true San Diego sports fans can focus all of their attention on their baseball organization. If anything, an increase in attendance is in order.

But it isn’t, which teaches all of us a very important lesson. The media, whether national or local, is a powerful driving force in getting fans in the seats. The small market Padres are naturally not going to be covered as much, and will therefore not be among baseball’s best when it comes to attendance.

However, it’s not just the small market status that is to blame. Local sports media is not adequately covering the Padres as they did the Chargers. This makes absolutely no sense, as the demographics of the San Diego region reflect more of an interest in baseball. Whether it’s ignorance or hostility towards a losing franchise, solid Padres coverage is difficult to come across.

An editorial from Gaslamp Ball titled, “Padres radio coverage is inadequate and lame.” details this very well. Basically, the offseason switch to 94.9 FM has drastically decreased the quality of San Diego radio coverage. Often times, the pregame show lasts just 30 minutes and is extremely shallow and superficial. The broadcast of the game itself isn’t much to write home about either.

Our very own Diane Calkins has touched on this topic as well in her editorial titled, “Five-Year Blunder?: Switch to 94.9 as Broadcast Station“.

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Besides the lacking radio coverage, the San Diego Union Tribune also seems to have taken a significant amount of attention off of the team. Dennis Lin is a fantastic reporter, but the paper as a whole does not provide San Diego fans with detailed Friars coverage.

And while Fox Sports San Diego airs the television broadcast for each Padres game, even their analysis is shallow. Without strong coverage in print, over the radio, or on television, it is more difficult for fans to have a strong connection to the organization they are passionate about.

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It couldn’t be any more clear that adequate Padres coverage is difficult to find. But what many don’t realize is that the city’s “small market” status is not entirely to blame. Other small markets do a whole lot better because their strong local media coverage makes up for the lack of national attention. Unfortunately, this is not the case here, as San Diego lacks a strong local presence in Padres coverage.