The Cubs attendance is down, but let's not blow this out of proportion

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One thing you hear a lot from frustrated Cubs fans is that management often refuses to do the smart thing because “hey, they know Wrigley will sell out no matter what happens, man.”  I’m not sure that was ever really true, but it’s certainly not true now:

Does it seem like the Cubs are promoting “good tickets still available” this season more than in recent memory? There would be good reason. Attendance is down sharply at Wrigley Field.

After 36 home dates last season, the Cubs had drawn 21 crowds over 40,000. This year they have 11. Last year they had one crowd under 38,000 compared to 11 this season.

I don’t know if “sharply” is the right word to use, nor do I know if “crowds under 38,000” is the best way to measure such a thing.  Yes, attendance is down somewhat: the Cubs are drawing 38,475 a game this year compared to 39,611 last season.  While you have to note that we still have the summer months to get through which should up the averages a bit, attendance will likely be down a bit this year, though not dramatically lower.

But let’s not freak out about it either. Here’s some greater context: attendance last year was down from the 40,000+ a game the team drew in 2007 and 2008.  In the several years before that, however, the team had only a couple of years in their history in which they drew as well as they’re drawing right now. Indeed, if the season ended today, 2010 would be the seventh best year attendance-wise (per game) in the 95 years or so they’ve been in Wrigley Field.

So yeah, they’re down. But that’s from historic peaks, so let’s not get carried away, OK?

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.