Astros attendance has continued to go down into the depths over the years. In 2006, coming off their first World Series appearance, Houston drew just over three million fans, good for sixth in the National League. In 2007? The Astros still managed just over three million, finishing seventh. Since then, the table has continued to go down slowly. 2.75 million in 2008, 2.5 million in 2009, and 2.3 million in 2010.
Is this the year the Astros attendance falls below two million? They drew plenty for Opening Day, with 41,042 showing up to cheer on their hometown team. After that? 25,000 on Saturday, 22,000 on Sunday, and per Brian McTaggart, an abysmal 20,175 to Minute Maid Park yesterday against the Cubs. Not only is that the second-worst attended game in Minute Maid Park history, it came against one of the NL's best road draws in the Cubs. What happens when the Pirates come to town? How low can this go?
There are a lot of factors that go into something like this, and while you can blame the Astros poor drafts in the mid-2000's as a main factor, this is also a major league roster that is bereft of talented players. Carlos Lee still has one of the most untradeable contracts in baseball, the Astros dealt away a pair of franchise icons in Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, and while the Astros rotation may very well be solid, solid doesn't pay the bills. Brett Myers is a perfectly cromulent starter, and he had a career year in 2010--nobody is buying tickets to go see Myers. They spent this offseason bringing in completely uninspiring pickups like Bill Hall and Clint Barmes. Nice, solid players who probably deserve a spot in a starting lineup, but who are virtually anonymous.
It's the combination of the two: not only is the farm system not producing much major league talent, but the MLB roster is also completely uninspiring. The Astros can't hide behind the Carlos Lee mistake either. They have a bunch of solid players. A solid rotation. A solid right fielder. A solid center fielder. Maybe a solid third basemen. But solid isn't good enough, especially when you surround it with mediocrity.
As far as potentially dipping below the two million mark? All I'm going to say is that this site is contemplating a podcast, and I've decided that one of the best places to record it would be in the upper deck of an Astros game. Certainly no threat of noise up there.