The Hall of Fame’s attendance is in decline

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There’s an article over at Sports Business Journal — sorry, subscription only — about the financials and attendance for the Hall of Fame.

The money part sounds somewhat more dire than it may be in practice. The joint has lost money for seven of the past nine years, including a $2.36 million loss for 2010 (the last year when full numbers were available) and a $4.3 million loss in 2009.  Obviously not great, but as the article notes, it’s misleading given that the Hall is a non-profit and a lot of its income comes from donations that, while counted in the year received, are used to fund operations for several years in some cases.

More interesting to me are the attendance numbers:

Museum attendance has slid from 352,000 in 2007 to 301,755 in 2008, 289,000 in 2009, 281,000 in 2010, and a projected figure of between 265,000 and 270,000 for 2011. Annual attendance topped 400,000 in peak years of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

A lot of the recent slide is probably due to the recession. If you can’t travel as often, the trip to way-out-of-the-way upstate New York is probably high on the list for sacrifice.

I imagine some of it, too, has to do with casual fans moving away somewhat from baseball in the mid-90s with the labor strife and the overall rise in the popularity of other sports.  Casual fans still go to the games in droves because it’s a relatively low opportunity cost kind of pursuit, but they’re not going to make a special point to go to the Hall. Sports overall have become more fragmented.

All of which makes me wonder — as others have before — what attendance would look like if the Hall were, you know, someplace near a major population center.  It’s an academic point given how deeply the Hall’s management and board are invested in the town of Cooperstown, but it would be a pretty gigantic increase if the place was in New York or Chicago, I’m sure.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.