At least smallest crowd in Camden Yards history has star power

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phelps-100412.jpgRemember the excitement when Camden Yards opened its gates 19 years ago? It was a beautiful baseball cathedral, combining modern day amenities with old-school charm and ushering in a new era in baseball. Goodbye cookie-cutter, multi-purpose stadiums. Hello expensive, eye-catching, baseball-only parks. The trend swept through the sport, with the Minnesota Twins being the latest team to join the club.

While Camden Yards certainly maintains its charms, the team has not, and attendance is reflecting that. Despite having some exciting young talent and facing off against the Tampa Bay Rays, another team with plenty of exciting young talent, the Orioles drew only 9,129 customers to Monday night’s game.

It was the smallest crowd in Camden Yards history but at least it had some star power, as it included Olympic hero Michael Phelps (pictured right) and what I can only assume was an extravagant entourage. So they have that going for them, which is nice.

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Yasmani Grandal played himself out of NLCS Game 4

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Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.

Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.

Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.

Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.