I had lived in four different states and visited Pittsburgh five or six times before moving here, so I figured not much would surprise me. As it turns out, I was unprepared for only one aspect of life in the Steel City.
You see, in most cities, sitting alone at home watching a hockey game is kind of - I don't know - something you do when you have nothing to do that night. It's certainly not a bad night, we appreciate the work our forefathers did to make it possible, but it's not something you fucking plan around.
Well, Pittsburgh has proven all those cities wrong. If watching a preseason game against the Islanders is worthy of turning down a date with a model, then clearly a regular season game against the Capitals beats guaranteed sex with a supermodel. And of course, seeing a first round playoff game on the Vs. network trumps a three-way with a model and a supermodel. Needless to say, it is hard to give away Pirates tickets when any of this stuff is going on.
I decided to quantify this effect by comparing Pirates attendance for the last three years when there is and isn't a Penguins game on TV. And here are your results:There you have it. When the Penguins are playing, the Pirates drew around 2,400 fewer fans a game in 2008 and 2009 and more than 7,000 fewer in 2010. And those numbers are based on tickets sold. Actual attendance takes even more of a hit. People are simply much less likely to use their Pirates tickets when it's possible to see the Mike Rupp line kill 40 seconds of game time.
All this adds up to yet another positive for the 2011 Pirates. The Penguins have riveting games against the Islanders and Thrashers during the Pirates' opening series, but even a drunk guy at Jack's wearing a Malkin Winter Classic jersey - vintage 2008! - is predicting a first round exit for our hockey club. And that should lead to a great atmosphere at PNC Park in this, our 2011 World Championship baseball season.