Interleague play: not quite popular as MLB would have you believe

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In the past few years, when interleague play was confined to certain segments of the season, Major League Baseball would issue these press releases about just how popular it was and how attendance spiked dramatically when the interleague series began. The clear impression they were trying to make was just how successful interleague play was as a concept.

Maury Brown at The Business of Baseball, however, crunched the numbers from and concludes that MLB’s enthusiasm about interleague play was really a lot of calendar-dependent noise:

While the rest of the season is yet to be played, the numbers compellingly show that interleague is not as popular as the past numbers have been said to be. It’s not that the “rivalries” aren’t popular, they are (they averaged 30,876 across the Rivalry Week in May this year), but rather balanced interleague throughout the season pulls in pretty much the same crowds as traditional interleague has.

None of this is to say that interleague should be removed. What it does say is don’t use those past numbers as propaganda to say how much more popular interleague is since it came into place in 1997. As the numbers now show, it’s pretty much a wash. Enjoy it for what it is, not some monumental popularity shift added to the regular season.

It was always notable that the big interleague p.r. push came after big weekend series between popular rivals, typically just as the warm weather finally showed up. Now that we have random Philly-Anaheim and Colorado-Seattle matchups in midweek during cold weather and everything else, we are seeing that baseball is, more or less, baseball.

Report: Athletics to acquire Stephen Piscotty from the Cardinals

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Athletics and Cardinals have agreed on a trade involving outfielder Stephen Piscotty. The Cardinals will receive two as yet unknown minor leaguers in return.

Piscotty, 26, hit .235/.342/.367 with nine home runs and 39 RBI in 401 plate appearances for the Cardinals this past season. He dealt with injuries and with his mother’s ALS diagnosis, so it was a rough year, but very excusably so. The Cardinals had signed him to a six-year, $33.5 million contract extension in March. He’s under contract through 2022 at a total of $29.5 million and has a club option for 2023 worth $15 million with a $1 million buyout.

The Cardinals had an outfield spot open up after agreeing to acquire Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins on Wednesday so the Piscotty trade doesn’t come as a surprise.