OK, maybe the Cubs are jerking Andre Dawson around

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1:24 P.M.:  OK, I sort of laid off the Cubs on this earlier today because the story below seemed to be more a failure of reporting than of the Cubs decision on the matter (i.e. it seemed entirely possible that the Cubs had every intention of retiring Dawson’s number regardless of what cap he wore)  but now ESPN is reporting that the Cubs really are going to wait and see what cap he wears before deciding if they’re going to retire his number.

Let me refine the point I made this morning, this time directed at the Cubs:  someone please tell me why the Cubs would retire Greg Maddux’s number despite the fact that he’ll wear a Braves cap into Cooperstown while they now apparently won’t retire Dawson’s if he wears an Expos cap.

Maddux won one major postseason award in a Cubs uniform and pitched in a single playoff series for the Cubs.  Andre Dawson won one major postseason award in a Cubs uniform and played in a single playoff series for the Cubs.  Maddux had three more seasons with the Cubs than Dawson did, but of Maddux’s nine years in a Cubs’ uniform one was a late season callup, one full season was a far below average (ERA+ of 76 in 1987), and two were average, end of career years.  All of Dawson’s six years were above average years.

I see no reason for the differential treatment here, and I would like someone with the Cubs or familiar with their thinking to explain it to me.

11:00 AM: Chicago Breaking Sports News reports that “[Andre] Dawson has been promised by the Cubs to have his No. 8 uniform number retired if he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Cub.”  They go on to note that there’s “No word on whether the Cubs would follow through with retiring his number if Dawson is inducted as an Expo.” Query: Does the reporter here really need official word from the Cubs on that last point? They retired Greg Maddux’s number last year, and he’s almost
certain to go into the Hall as a Brave, so they’ll almost certainly do
it for Dawson. 

But even if that’s not a given, the cap some committee of anonymous whoevers decides should appear on Dawson’s plaque can’t be the determining factor for the Cubs, can it? I mean, if they stand willing to retire his jersey anyway, they’re going to retire it regardless, right? I mean, what possible difference would it make to the Cubs?  It’s not like they can’t still sell 40,000 “Andre Dawson: Hall of Famer” seat cushions or foam fingers or whatever on “Andre Dawson Day” anyway, and that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it?

If you haven’t guessed, I’m generally unimpressed with the practice of retiring numbers in the first instance.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.