People of a certain age remember spring training being a sparsely-attended affair. People milling about in the mornings watching workouts and then a thousand or two watching games that afternoon. Not anymore.
Major League Baseball just announced that the average attendance for spring training games reached a record high of 8,078 fans per game over 447 games this year. That’s a 7.3 percent increase over last year. The previous record for annual attendance 7,793 per game set in 2008. For total attendance this year’s spring training tally of 3,610,738 fans was the fifth-highest ever.
A lot of the attendance increase is attributable to the Cubs new park in Mesa, Arizona, which averaged 14,254 fans per game. Into the early 90s the Indians and Braves wouldn’t come close to averaging that for regular season games. Before then it was common for multiple teams each year to fall short of that mark.
It’s just a difference scene in the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues these days.
The Yankees fell behind early to the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, a day after dropping both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader. Their game, as did every other game on Sunday with the exception of the Braves-Cardinals doubleheader, started at 3:05 or 3:10 EDT, a change Major League Baseball recently made to create fairness on the final day of the season.
Girardi is not a fan. Per the Associated Press:
It was cloudy at Camden Yards at 3:05 p.m., but late-afternoon games often make it difficult for batters to see pitches.
Girardi said, “Here’s the thing that bothers me: If it’s a sunny day you’re playing in shadows.”
He added, “If it’s the most important game of the year to get in, I don’t think that’s right.”
Understanding the idea is for every team to play at the same time, Girardi said, “Then play all night games.”
One wonders if MLB had scheduled Sunday’s slate of games for the night, if Girardi would have instead complained about batters losing fly balls in the stadium lights. Furthermore, both teams have to play in the same conditions.
Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was given an opportunity to play a new position in Sunday’s series finale against the Phillies. After the Phillies rallied to take a 6-2 lead in the seventh, the Marlins let Suzuki take the hill in the eighth. And, in news that surprises no one, he was impressive.
Though Suzuki gave up a run on two hits, he flashed a fastball that hit the mid-80’s and a breaking ball with some bite.
Suzuki, who turns 42 years old later this month, is 65 hits of 3,000 in his major league career. The Marlins are interested in bringing him back in 2016.