The Arizona Diamondbacks clinched the National League West Division title Saturday, but the accomplishment was barely a blip on the radar for some team skeptics.
“The Diamondbacks have many doubtful fans,” said Ashley Louns-burg, a bartender at Kirk’s Sports Grill at Country Club Drive and Main Street in Mesa.
But Lounsburg counts herself among the believers. The Tempe resident said Saturday the Diamondbacks will win the National League pennant and the World Series.
Her fellow employee, Kevin Stephens of Mesa, scoffed at her prediction.
“They lack a hitter, a catcher and a shortstop,” Stephens said.
He said the Yankees would be a safer bet to win the World Series due to better coaching and all-around play. As for the Diamondbacks, Stephens said he sees many casual fans in the Valley who will likely wait until the team gets hot in the postseason before they jump on the bandwagon.
“Some call them fair-weather,” Stephens said. “I personally call them fickle. When they are winning, everybody loves them.”
Keith Bolash, a bar patron from Pennsylvania, said the Diamondbacks were a surprise this year and achieved the unexpected from the beginning of the season. But he said fans shouldn’t get too excited.
“I don’t think they’ll go far,” Bolash said.
Despite the doubters, postseason ticket sales were steady Saturday at Chase Field.
“We have been very busy, which is always nice,” Diamondbacks ticket office manager Neil Birdsall said.
Families and couples wandered around the ballpark’s courtyard, admiring the moving marble sculpture and other sights.
Other fans on a mission for tickets walked straight to box office windows and laid down their cash.
One woman sat and counted a thick stack of tickets bound by a rubber band after her purchase.
Those who stuck around the courtyard said the Diamondbacks could surprise the skeptics in the postseason.
“They have been fun to watch,” said John Gresley of Mesa. “They’ve been getting a lot out of their younger guys.”
Gresley said he came to a half-dozen games during the regular season, which ends today in Denver.
Miguel Barraza of Phoenix said he and his wife went to at least 26 games this season.
But many other fans stayed home in 2007, even as the Diamondbacks climbed to the best record in the National League.
The team ranked 12th in the National League in attendance at one point in June, averaging 26,204 fans per game. Only Cincinnati, Washington, Pittsburgh and Florida had smaller crowds.
Things picked up a bit in the second half of the season. ESPN.com reported the Diamondbacks averaged 28,598 fans during their 81 2007 home games.
That’s up about 2,800 fans per game from 2006 but still behind the mark set in 2002 — when 39,515 per game showed up to watch the then-defending World Series champions.
At Kirk’s bar, patrons sauntered in Saturday night to watch their team of choice take on the Colorado Rockies, the music grew louder and the soft din of conversation grew into a roar.
Bartender Stephens shrugged off the topic of fickle fans and returned to work.
“None of that matters,” he said. “It just matters if they win.”