Dodgers attendance is down over 7,000 per game

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Attendance is down across baseball this year. On average it’s down on the order of a few hundred a game. In Los Angeles, however, things are way worse: 7,268 fans a game off the 2010 pace for the Dodgers.  And, as Steve Dilbeck reminds us, that’s just in official attendance, not actual turnstile numbers, which Major League Baseball doesn’t report.  Dodger Stadium has looked way emptier than the numbers suggest.

Dillbeck suspects, based on comments to his blog, that there’s a fan boycott afoot related to the McCourt fiasco. I’m somewhat skeptical simply because fan boycotts rarely if ever gain real traction, even if organized and endorsed by influential media voices (ask the talk radio people who tried to organize them with respect to the Mets and the Detroit Lions in recent years).  Yes, I’m sure there are some people avoiding games in Los Angeles because of their McCourt distaste, but I bet the pall cast Bryan Stow beating, the unexciting hot stove season for the Dodgers and the middling-at-best prospects for the playoffs this year have more to do with it.

But whether there truly is a boycott or not, I totally whiffed on a grandstanding opportunity.  After I wrote something about the McCourts last winter, one of my best friends sent me an email in which he — half-jokingly, but not really — suggested that I try to organize an anti-McCourt Dodgers’ boycott.  I think he had the best interests of my media profile in greater mind than the fate of the Dodgers, but man, if I had listened to him and done a half dozen posts arguing for such a boycott and maybe printing up t-shirts and stuff I could totally be claiming credit for the plunge in Dodgers attendance so far this year.  And now I could be issuing demands and getting phat talking head gigs on TV.

Sigh. Lost opportunities.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).