Angels attendance is down 14%


Seeing red? Not so much

Albert Pujols did not hit a home run until May 6. Yet, he was tied for the Angels’ team lead in home runs entering play Saturday, with six homers in his last 11 games.

Now that Pujols is back, will the fans follow?

The most startling statistic in baseball: The Angels’ attendance is down 14% this season, the largest drop in the major leagues.

The Angels sold more than 5,000 season tickets after they signed Pujols, and all those tickets count in the attendance figures. The Angels signed Pujols to hit, first and foremost, but no doubt owner Arte Moreno also could see an attendance crisis brewing.

The New York Yankees and Texas Rangers come to town this week — two big draws — and the number of empty seats could reveal the depth of the crisis. The Angels still were offering Goldstar ticket discounts for both series as of Saturday.

Rip your fans, become a cult hero

The Cleveland Indians had the biggest lead of any team in the major leagues on this date last year. They led the American League Central by six games, only to finish 15 games out of first place.

The Indians are back atop the division this year, with few witnesses. Closer Chris Perez ripped the fans last week, saying a first-place team should not rank last in the majors in attendance.

“Oakland’s outdrawing us,” Perez told reporters. “That’s embarrassing.”

He said the poor crowds haunt the Indians, who failed to sign outfielder Carlos Beltran last winter.

“You had a choice of playing in St. Louis where you get 40,000 like Beltran chose to do,” Perez said, “or you can come to Cleveland.”

The Cleveland fans did not turn on Perez. They have rewarded him with standing ovations ever since, and he has turned his attention to a popular target for fans outside the Northeast: ESPN.

“They cover the Yankees and the Red Sox, and they tell people how bad the Angels are,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of star power. We just have a good team.”

Perez is tied for the major league lead with 16 saves. He has not blown one since opening day.

Money can’t buy that kind of ring

Red Sox President Larry Lucchino last weekend delivered the commencement address at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. He told the new graduates: “There are three things money can’t buy: love, happiness, and the American League pennant.”

The Red Sox have not played a postseason game since 2009. They have not won one since 2008.

There are 12 teams that have won a playoff game since the last time the Red Sox did. (Note to Perez: The Indians are not one of them.)

Boston has spent about $450 million over the last three seasons, with no playoff victories in return.

Of the five teams with the highest payrolls this season — the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers — none is in first place.

The Phillies are in last place. So are the Red Sox.