The fact that the Cardinals remain a top-5 attendance team in one of baseball’s smallest market is a testament to the fan loyalty they’ve cultivated. But things are a tad off this year: Rick Hummel reports that the Cardinals are down 2,843 fans a game. No big worries given that they’ll still be over three million, but it’s worth noting I suppose.
And really, my excuse for posting this is really to make people go read the discussion about it over at Baseball Think Factory. Based on an early comment the conversation moves to trying to identify which cities, if any, are unequivocal baseball towns as opposed to football towns or towns of other sports.
The verdict so far: only St. Louis, New York and Boston are baseball towns, and down the thread some people make the argument that even New York can’t claim that as clearly as you’d think. It’s more a town for winners — making it an all-sports town — than just baseball. It’s just that baseball has been where the winning has been.
It certainly applies to St. Louis, though. Not sure that it applies in many other places, if at all. Even the worst football teams seem to capture more municipal fascination than do good baseball teams, almost everywhere.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.