In honor of Joe Torre starting Vicente Padilla on Opening Day (now official!), lar at Wezen-Ball gives us a list of the worst Opening Day starters of all time. Two thoughts:
1. I am absolutely tickled that Jack Morris makes the list. Take that Morris-for-the-Hall-of-Fame truthers!
2. I am happy to see that Rick Mahler did not make the list. There was a stretch there when he was the official Braves Opening Day guy. I think he did it five or six times, which was quite an indictment of the Braves mid-80s pitching. The fact that I actually looked forward to Rick Mahler starting was an indictment of my Chuck Tanner Braves’ Stockholm Syndrome as well.
Finally, it’s probably worth noting that Padilla’s Opening Day start comes on the road against the Pirates, so it’s not like the pageantry of the opening bow in Dodger Stadium is sullied or anything. Why a team from Southern California is playing on the road in the first week of April and a team from snow-and-cold prone western Pennsylvania is at home is another matter entirely.
Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.
Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.
All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.