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.

Watch: Shohei Ohtani strikes out his first spring training batter

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Sure, spring training games don’t count toward anything “real,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy Angels’ star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani mowing down his first big league competitors.

On Saturday, Ohtani took the mound against the Brewers for his first official outing in an Angels uniform. After allowing a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar, the 23-year-old righty settled down and issued a three-pitch strikeout to Nate Orf, his first of the spring.

It wasn’t the cleanest inning for the right-hander: the Brewers plated their first run on a walk, wild pitch and subsequent throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. Ohtani didn’t let things unravel further, however, and induced a pop-up for the second out before catching Brett Phillips looking on a called strike three to end the inning.

While the two-way phenom only lasted another two batters (a Keon Broxton dinger finished him off in the second), he’s already started to look like a formidable presence on the mound. Time will tell whether he can deliver at the plate as well — rumor has it he could feature in the Angels’ lineup as soon as Monday.