Not drawing any fans to the ballpark? Here's an option

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You could always, I dunno, stretch giant pieces of vinyl with photos of fans on them over the seats to make it look like you have a full house.

In a bid to improve the ambiance, make its games look better on TV, earn a
little extra advertising revenue and save a little money on game-day
operations, Triestina has installed what is believed to be the sports
world’s first “virtual crowd.” The team won’t say how much it paid to
produce and install the PVC covering, which features images of real
Triestina fans, but between the money the team will save by eliminating
stewards, attendants, medical staff and insurance for the shuttered
seats (about $130,000 per season) and the extra ad revenue it may earn,
team owner Stefano Fantinel says the experiment “will pay for itself
very soon.”

Click through for a pic of it. It’s . . . interesting.

Probably wouldn’t be necessary for baseball in that you really only see the bulk of the crowd on home runs and fly balls and folks tend not to get too weirded out by empty ballpark seats.

But football is having a hard time drawing fans these days. And really, given the way football economics work — TV is everything, and viewership is booming — it’s not totally wrong to think of it as a sport that takes place in thirty one individual television studios around the nation. Why not use props?

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.