Great Moments in trash talking

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The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen relished spending Christmas in New Jersey because he could use the time to taunt his Yankees-fan relatives:

As the snow and the wind got worse, all the people from North Jersey who were supposed to come for dinner wimped out. They called to cancel. Of course, they cited the weather. We knew better. They weren’t about to drive a couple of hours down the Jersey Turnpike in whiteout conditions to listen to some jerk from Boston talk about how great the Red Sox were going to be, how great the Patriots are, how there is no other city in America that could run the table in 2011: football, basketball, hockey, baseball. We could win ’em all. No other city can even come close to saying that.

I sometimes chafe at the unrelenting passive-aggressive tendencies of Midwesterners. I long for people in my neck of the woods to be a little more open with their feelings and let things out rather than have everyone smiling politely at everyone else while they secretly seethe. But then I realize, hey, at least there’s a passive component of passive-aggressiveness. And no one ruins Christmas dinner with this kind of silliness.

Anyway, between the offseason the Red Sox are having and the offseason the Phillies are having, this is shaping up to be one of the loudest and most boastful springs in living memory.

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.