B.J. Upton on trade rumors: “Most nerve-wracking two weeks I ever had”

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Publicly at least most players say they aren’t bothered a ton by trade rumors, but B.J. Upton admitted feeling very relieved yesterday once the afternoon deadline came and went without his leaving Tampa Bay.

In fact, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune notes that Upton “raised his arms and yelled ‘word … I’m still here!'” as the deadline officially passed while he played catch in the outfield.

Here’s what Upton told Mooney about the experience of being on the trading block:

I’m just glad it’s over with. That’s probably the most nerve-wracking two weeks I ever had. I’ve always said I want to be here. I grew up playing with these guys, a lot of good guys on this team, a good organization, so I’m just glad it’s over with and we can move forward and continue to try to win ball games.

Definitely a little bit tougher than I thought it would be. You wake up and that’s the first thing you see is trade talks, and obviously I was in them. Come to the field and that’s all you see all over the place, you guys ask me the same thing every day, so yeah, it was definitely tough. I’m glad it’s over.

Upton went 5-for-52 (.096) in the two weeks leading up to the trade deadline, although certainly he’s had plenty of prolonged slumps in the past without being able to blame trade rumors for shaking him up. And while he’s out of the woods for now, there’s a slim chance he could still be moved before August 31 and the Rays will almost certainly revisit trade talks for Upton during the offseason.

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.