SEATTLE -- The Mariners have wrapped up a mostly positive Spring Training, but head back to Seattle where ticket sales are not so red-hot.
"We're not panicking," said Mariners media spokesperson Rebecca Hale, on sluggish ticket sales heading into the 2011 season.
The team still has plenty of seats left for the home opener, a week from Friday against the Cleveland Indians. About 5,000, in fact.
Hale said things are lagging a bit behind what they had predicted but they expect to have a sellout by the time the game rolls around.
Also, season ticket sales are lagging behind last year, said Hale, although the exact figures weren't available.
That's understandable, given that the team is coming off a year in which they were historically bad in terms of offense. And I mean all-time bad, one of the worst seasons ever trotted out before paying fans in the long sweep of major league baseball history.
"Remember," said Hale, "our best sales year was the season after we won 116 games. The previous year's performance has a lot to do with how fans feel and last year wasn't all that good."
Meanwhile, a local firm that tracks data about legal and medical professionals reported Seattle as one of the most depressed baseball cities in the country, right up there in the top five.
"We see all sorts of signals about what's happening across the nation, whether people are happy or sad," said Mark Britton, CEO and Co-Founder of AVVO.com. "We started running data around the most depressed cities. And we're also baseball fans so we started thinking, 'Geez could it ever be a driver, the fact that some of these cities have never won a World Series, or at least not in the last 20 years?' Cities like Seattle and Houston started bubbling towards the top."
Mixing a variety of factors, from divorce rates to lawyer referrals, reported sick-days to alcoholism rates, AVVO came up with a ranking for the depressed cities, then ranked those which have a major league team. Seattle sits at # 4.
But back at the ballpark don't try selling that "depression" noise to the faithful. Even on a windy, rainy, nasty afternoon that feels anything but like spring, the smiles are out and the hope is springing eternally.
"It's baseball!" said Ethan Silvera with a huge grin as he picked up a fat envelope full of single tickets for games stretching through the season. "Great entertainment, inexpensive fun and I love it. We all get to choose how we spend our money. This is my way."