Major League Baseball has been suffering from a bit of an attendance decline this year, partially due to the weather, partially due to a wildcat strike by fans against the Dodgers and partially due to unknown causes, be they economic or what have you. This past weekend, however, was a humdinger at the box office.
In fact, it was the biggest attendance weekend for Major League Baseball — at least for a weekend with 45 scheduled games, meaning no double headers — since September 2008, with 1,646,000 folks buying tickets. How nice of them to round themselves off to the nearest thousand like that!
Here’s Bud Selig’s quote, which came attached to the press releases:
“Fans coming out in these remarkable numbers demonstrate the popularity of Interleague Play, especially given that many of our intra-city rivalries did not occur this weekend. I remain optimistic that our attendance numbers will continue to climb with summer beginning tomorrow and five of the six Divisions separated by 1.5 games or less.”
Well, there were some rivalry series and series of interest: Orioles-Nats, which drew well, A’s-Giants (ditto), Royals-Cardinals and of course the non-traditional, but quite historical Cubs-Yankees tilts at Wrigley. But his point does stand, given that stuff like Pirates-Indians drew very well, which is not necessarily expected (the Cleveland-Pittsburgh football thing does not translate to baseball). Whether that’s because of “the popularity of interleague play” or merely because, hey, it was a nice weekend for baseball, is an open question.
But hey, good to see you looking healthier, baseball.
“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”
Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”
That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.
Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.
When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.
The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.
Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.
It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.
Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.