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.

You like baseball! You really like baseball!

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.