Explaining those empty seats in Detroit

The late Skip Caray probably summed it up best when he was doing an Atlanta Braves-Miami Marlins game a few years ago.

Caray, noted for his wry humor, observed at a game where there were probably 1,500 people in attendance, “There’s a lot of people disguised as empty seats here today.”

Such is the case in Detroit these days as fans are staying away from the watered-down versions the Pistons, Red Wings and Tigers are putting out.

Exorbitant ticket prices are another good reason.

Take the recent NCAA basketball quarterfinal games held at Little Caesars Arena.

If you wanted to land a good seat for the Syracuse-Michigan State game, it would have cost you in the vicinity of $500. I’m sure some of the “nosebleed” seats would have been less, but having been there, I can tell you it’s much more convenient to see the game at home on a 56-inch screen.

When the Red Wings opened at LCA this season, it was astonishing to see empty seats. Now, the Wings, even in their down seasons, seldom had empty seats at home games. Detroit is that kind of a mad hockey town.

Ditto for the Pistons, who decided to move to downtown after some good seasons at The Palace in Auburn Hills.

There have been large sections of empty seats for most Pistons games — so many that a prominent Detroit furniture dealer was contracted to cover the red seats with a darker shade of upholstery.

It has to be embarrassing for the two franchises to go to that length to disguise the apathy of their teams.

The Tigers are Motown’s longest pro sports franchise and a storied one at that.

But the opening game last week was far from filled. Sure, the tickets were sold. The people just weren’t on hand.

And there were wide sections of empty seats for a doubleheader versus Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The ticket prices for the Wings, Pistons and Tigers are high, but not as outrageous as the Detroit Lions. But that’s fodder for another column.

The reason for the lagging attendance is that the three teams mentioned are putting out sub-par teams this season.

The Wings will miss the playoffs this year and so will the Pistons, who are still remotely in the race for the postseason.

The Tigers held a fire sale last season and dealt away most of their stars (Justin Verlander the most notable). They are playing this season mostly with minor leaguers.

Who can blame anybody for not paying up to $100 for an on-deck seat? You can drive to Toledo and pay much less.

Until all of the three above teams put respectable teams on display, those seats are going to continue to be empty.