Sheriff Joe Arpaio to use the All-Star Game to draw attention to himself

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For those of you who are unaware, Joe Arpaio is the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.  He’s famous for being a shameless self-promoter, having branded himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” doing things like putting prisoners in tents, demagoging the illegal immigration issue and all manner of other stuff.

This stuff isn’t mere harmless grandstanding, however, inasmuch as he has been investigated on numerous occasions for violating prisoners’ civil rights, abusing his power and being a general race-baiting jagoff.

Well, he wasn’t investigated for that last one. He is a suspect in that regard, however.

His latest gambit? Putting prisoner chain gangs out at the All-Star Game in Phoenix next week:

A group of inmates from the sheriff’s holding area for undocumented immigrants, all of whom were convicted of DUI, will join American male and female chains of DUI offenders to send a message about the perils of drunken driving when they pick up trash outside Chase Field next week, Arpaio said.

If someone draws another message about the legal pitfalls of undocumented immigration, all the better.

To the extent this is an anti-illegal immigrant thing it’s pretty weak sauce for Sheriff Joe. When he wants to go after illegals, he does it in a way more straightforward way. This is mostly just an attention whore doing what he does best. And he’s done it before, including at the Super Bowl in Glendale a few years ago.

But whatever the motivation is, I’m sure Bud Selig and all of the other dignitaries at the game are glad that the Midsummer Classic is being used in this way.

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.