QUESTION: Monday's playoff game was not a sellout for the first time under this ownership. Blame it on being a weekday game, kids are in school, etc. But none of that ever mattered before. So what message do you think the Cardinals front office should take away from that? What do you take away from that?
BENFRED: I mentioned it in my column Tuesday morning: No one believes in this team like it believes in itself. That's not some shot at the fans. Just the truth.
I'll be the first to say MLB did no one any favors with the start time. Players didn't like it because they are not used to playing in those shadows here. Fans didn't like it because it was at 2 p.m. on a Monday. There were $10 tickets to decent seats online leading up to first pitch.
As far as how the front office feels about it, I think they care a lot more about tickets sold than actual attendance. Some of the empty seats you saw were purchased before the game -- before the start times were announced -- then the people who bought them could not go.
It would be nice to hear Cards/Braves leaders push back against the MLB shafting local fans for TV purposes, but I would not expect to hear much of that, either. TV pays well. It's a business, first and foremost. Don't forget that.
To a follow-up question about the empty seats Monday, BenFred replied:
Really bad start time on a really bad day for that start time. That's the main thing.
And then, to some degree, I don't think the fan base is as confident in this team as it has been in some playoff teams of the past, so there might have been less incentive to find a way to get to a really bad start time on a really bad day (Monday) for that start time.
There were empty seats at other stadiums, so it's not a St. Louis specific thing, but it is strange in St. Louis to see empty seats in a playoff game, for sure.
Photo: First pitch at 2:08 p.m. Monday for Game 4 of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium. (Staff photo)