The Everett AquaSox’s impending move from Short Season-A to High-A has locals ready to attend more AquaSox baseball. At least that’s what the voters had to say.
Last week brought big news for the future of minor-league baseball in Everett. Major League Baseball is taking over administration of Minor League Baseball, and the process created a big shake-up for the minors, including contraction of teams and reorganization of leagues. One of the consequences is that the Northwest League, of which Everett has been a member since 1984, is switching from being a Short Season-A league to a High-A league, moving its teams two rungs higher in the minor-league hierarchy.
Last week Everett received its official invitation from the Seattle Mariners to be the organization’s High-A affiliate. While nothing is certified until the AquaSox and Mariners sign a professional development license, it seems inevitable that the teams will come to an agreement and the Sox will be moving up in the baseball world.
That upward movement comes with both its bonuses and complications. The bonuses are that Everett will feature better players and a higher caliber of baseball, and the AquaSox will be playing a full season, which will increase the number of games they play from 76 to somewhere in the range of 132. The complications are that since Funko Field is owned by the Everett School District there will be scheduling issues in April and May, and there’s the possibility of an increase in ticket prices.
Therefore, this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll asked readers how the current development affects their likelihood of attending AquaSox games.
POLL: What will the Everett AquaSox’s impending move from Short Season-A to High-A do to your likelihood of attending games? Full context, including a look at what the changes will mean, here: https://t.co/QCeTDrJve5
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) December 14, 2020
Add up the votes in the poll posted on the blog and the one posted on Twitter and a strong majority of responders are ready to get out to the ball field more often, as 63% said they were more likely to attend AquaSox games. Of the remaining percentage, 35% said the changes would have no effect on their attendance, while a mere 2% said they were less likely to attend.
The 2% is pretty much statistically insignificant, so we can effectively conclude that no one said the move from Short Season-A to High-A would decrease their likelihood of attending games. The one real deterrent is probably the potential ticket price increase, and the results suggest readers either don’t think ticket prices will increase or don’t care. This was not a surprising result.
The real question was between the “more likely” and “no effect” options. What is the enthusiasm gap between really low minors and just plain low minors? The fact that “more likely” received nearly double the votes of “no effect” tells us readers do consider the difference significant.
I can think of one argument in particular that explains this: Julio Rodriguez. The 19-year-old outfielder is considered one of baseball’s best prospects, coming in at No. 6 in Baseball America’s post-2020 rankings. But Rodriguez skipped Everett, going straight from the Dominican Summer League in 2018 to the Low-A Midwest League in 2019. As a High-A team the AquaSox would be much less likely to miss out on a prospect like Rodriguez.
Hopefully we’ll have a 2021 Northwest League season that’s as close to normal as possible, thus letting us know what High-A baseball is all about.