Bloomberg looks at the attendance numbers 60% of the way through the season and finds what one might expect to find: if the team wins, the fans show up:
On a team-by-team level, the numbers support the conventional wisdom that fans will come to see winners.
Thirteen of the league’s 30 teams have seen attendance improve so far this year. Nine of those 13 have a better winning percentage this season than they did at the same point last season . . . On the flip side, 10 of the 17 teams with declines in attendance have also seen declines in performance.
There are some quirks, obviously. The Red Sox and Cardinals are down in record but up in attendance. A lot of that is based on the fact that both teams had great 2013 seasons and are pretty solid draws all the time anyway.
Maybe the oddest ones are the Blue Jays and Nationals, both of whom are doing better this year than last but both of which dropped in attendance. That’s not great. Maybe Washington’s drop is based on crazy-enthusiasm in 2013 which boosted attendance early, before it was clear that they weren’t going anyplace last year. The Jays thing could be much the same, as there was a lot of exuberance early in 2013 and a lot of skepticism coming in to this season.
Largely, though, the pattern holds. Which just makes me laugh at the claims some owners make from time to time about being unable to put more into payroll unless and until attendance goes up. The fans follow winning, winning doesn’t follow the fans.
Ben Badler of Baseball America Reports that Major League Baseball has cancelled its Dominican national showcase, which was scheduled for today and tomorrow. Why? Because, Badler reports, trainers and players in the Dominican Republic planned to skip the showcase in protest over Major League Baseball’s push to implement an international draft.
The kicker: Major League Baseball explored bringing in lesser prospects to serve as replacement players for the showcase. MLB, you might recall, has a poor track record of getting replacement workers to fill in for picketing players.
As Badler noted recently, the international draft proposed by Major League Baseball is, despite whatever MLB says, all about paying international players less money. From the Players Union’s perspective, it’s all about selling out amateur players to the supposed benefit of current union members. The allegedly altruistic justifications for the draft simply don’t hold water.
They certainly don’t fool the Dominican players who, even if they are ultimately powerless to stop MLB from stripping them of their bargaining power, will not give it up quietly.
The Game: Chicago Cubs @ Cleveland Indians, World Series Game 2
The Time: 7:00 PM EDT
The Place: Progressive Field, Cleveland
The Channel: FOX
The Starters: Jake Arrieta (Cubs) vs. Trevor Bauer (Indians)
We get going an hour earlier tonight due to the threat of rain. As of now, that still looks like it will be the difference between getting this one in or not, as the chance of rain looks to be a lot higher after a 7pm game would reasonably end:
Still, it’s going to be dicey and the conditions will be less than ideal. It will be especially less-than-idea for Cleveland if the game is delayed early and they have to go to their bullpen earlier than expected tonight. Andrew Miller escaped some jams last night and did his job, but he used a lot of pitches to do it — 46 — and may be pretty limited tonight, if he’s available at all. That puts a lot on Trevor Bauer’s shoulders. Or, actually, his fingers, including the pinky finger on his pitching hand which is full of stitches. Those stitches not holding cost him his ALCS start. Terry Francona is hoping to get a lot more out of his starter tonight. Given how little he has pitched in the playoffs he should have the energy as long as his finger holds up.
As for the Cubs, teams that have lost Game 1 of the World Series are 40-70 and, in recent years, have a worse winning percentage than that, losing it all in 12 of the past 13 years. Eh, not too impressed with that stat as it doesn’t actually deal with the series at hand. At hand, the Cubs have superior starters set to go in each of the next two games, starting tonight with Jake Arrieta. He’s not been fantastic in the playoffs this year, but he’s capable of dominating a game any time out.
The Cubs figure to have a better night at the plate now that Corey Kluber is out of the way. Particularly a lefty like Anthony Rizzo, who is probably happy to see Bauer. Jason Heyward will likely be back in the lineup as well. They had better have a better night. Being down 1-0 is not a death sentence in the World Series, even if it has looked like one recently. Being down 2-0 is not something Chicago wants to chance.