Remember how I wrote about the Newark Bears getting off to a fairly good start a couple weeks ago? Never mind.
Just call them the last place Bears. They have lost their last 11 games, and have just one victory since June 11. At least the first-year Trois-Rivieres Aigles have been nearly as bad all season, but they are playing .500 baseball over their last 10 games.
Worse, Newark’s losses haven’t even been particularly close lately: an 11-4 defeat by Fargo-Moorhead on Tuesday, a 17-5 drubbing by the Redhawks Monday, and a 14-3 loss to Quebec on Sunday.
The Bears have scored the fewest runs (148 in 34 games) and given up the most runs (221) and second most earned runs (169). If that’s not a recipe for failure, I don’t know what is.
Newark has the lowest average attendance in the Can-Am League by far – 462 per game over the first 20 home dates. I’m not sure there’s another pro baseball team that’s been seen by fewer people this year. But between the weather (out of the team’s control), the quality of play, the team’s limited marketing efforts and seven weekday 10:35 a.m. starts in those first 20 home dates, it’s a wonder the average crowd is that large.
Since 2009, the Bears’ last playoff appearance and their last winning season, the team has done worse every year. From a 74-66 record that year, Newark fell to 53-86 in their final season in the Atlantic League in 2010. They finished 41-51 in 2011, their first year in the Can-Am League, and 35-65 last year.
It used to be fun to go watch the Bears play – the 2007 team was the best independent league team I’ve ever seen. (I think on any given day, they could have given the 2013 New York Mets a run for their money – at least as long as they didn’t have to face Matt Harvey.)
The 2008 and 2009 teams were competitive too, although the ’09 team is one I look back on fondly now for the strangeness of the season as much as the team’s actual accomplishments.
If the stands weren’t full during those years, at least there were usually enough people at the games to create the atmosphere of a professional sporting event.
I’d love to see the Newark Bears become a team that’s fun to watch again. But in 2013, I don’t think I’d recommend them to a friend.