Kevin Millar puts off TV gig for independent ball

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Last month, after failing to land spot on the Cubs’ bench, Kevin Millar retired and took a job with MLB Network, saying:

Working with the guys at the MLB Network is the next best thing to actually being in a clubhouse. I’m really excited to get started and have some fun.

In the three weeks since then Millar apparently changed his mind, because today he signed to play for the independent league St. Paul Saints.
Millar actually began his professional career with the Saints in 1993, back when he was 21 years old and they frequently had players snatched up by MLB organizations. In fact, five different guys from that 1993 team went on to play in the majors.
Millar signed with the Marlins in 1994 and after four more seasons in the minors eventually got his shot, playing a dozen seasons with Florida, Boston, Baltimore, and Toronto. He returns 17 years later, apparently unwilling to call it quits at age 38. Clearly “the next best thing to actually being in a clubhouse” can’t compete with actually being in a clubhouse, independent league or not.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for MLB Network informs me that Millar “will still continue his on-air role on MLB Network throughout this season” and in fact will be on “MLB Tonight” … well, tonight.

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.