MLB had a huge attendance weekend

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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.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.