Baseball has best attendance since 2008; fifth best season ever

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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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Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.