Remember how the first half of the season was dominated by stories about how attendance was down? Yeah, funny you mention that, because the final totals are all in and attendance ended up being up over last year. And the year before that.
In fact, it was the fifth best season ever: 73,425,568 tickets sold. No word on butts in seats. Baseball doesn’t actually measure that. The total was 0.5 percent greater than last year’s mark even though there were six more games played last season than this season.
The Phillies led all of baseball in total fans and average attendance, and set a franchise record. The Brewers, Giants and the Texas Rangers all set franchise records as well. The Indians saw the biggest increase over last year, with 450,000 more people heading to Progressive Field than in 2010.
Not surprisingly, the press release I got on this didn’t mention the teams [cough] Dodgers [cough] who went down in attendance. But given how far down they and some others dropped, it’s rather surprising that the overall totals were up this year.
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Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1 of the ALDS in Toronto:
CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mike Napoli
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos
SP Yovani Gallardo
With left-hander David Price on the mound for Toronto the Rangers are going with Mike Napoli at first base over Mitch Moreland. Beyond that it’s a pretty standard lineup for Texas, or at least standard for what manager Jeff Banister used down the stretch once Josh Hamilton was healthy enough to play left field.
LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Smoak
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar
SP David Price
After returning from the disabled list for the final weekend of the regular season Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup and batting fifth. That allows Ryan Goins to play second base in place of the injured Devon Travis. Justin Smoak gets the nod over Chris Colabello at first base against a right-hander.
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.