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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!

Mets’ Neil Walker expected to undergo season-ending back surgery

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: Neil Walker #20 of the New York Mets sits in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal reports that Mets second baseman Neil Walker is expected to undergo season-ending surgery to fix a herniated disk in his lower back. Walker has avoided the disabled list but hasn’t played since last Saturday and has only two starts since August 22.

If Walker does indeed go under the knife, he’ll end his first season with the Mets with a terrific .282/.347/.476 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 55 RBI in 458 plate appearances. While the Mets couldn’t have foreseen Daniel Murphy having such a terrific season, Walker was more than adequate in Murphy’s shoes at second base.

Kelly Johnson and Wilmer Flores have handled second base in Walker’s absence and will continue to do so through the remainder of the season.

Video: Stephen Cardullo celebrates his birthday by hitting a grand slam

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 31:  Stephen Cardullo #65 of the Colorado Rockies watches his first career Major League home run during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field on August 31, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Rockies 1B/OF Stephen Cardullo celebrated his 29th birthday on Wednesday, so the rookie decided to celebrate by homering in both games of his team’s doubleheader at home against the Dodgers.

In the first game, Cardullo pinch-hit for Chris Rusin in the seventh inning and drilled a solo home run off of Casey Fien. In the second game, Cardullo smacked a grand slam to left-center field off of Bud Norris in the first inning.

Cardullo made his major league debut this past Friday. He was hitless in his first five at-bats before singling as a pinch-hitter on Monday.