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?
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.
Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.
When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.
What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.
The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.
Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.