Phil Humber takes a lickin’, keeps on tickin’

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Phil Humber apparently has a hard head.

The Chicago White Sox pitcher was hit flush in the head by a line drive off the bat of Cleveland Indians outfielder Kosuke Fukudome in the second inning of Thursday’s game, yet was on his feet to greet trainer Herm Schneider, and actually tried to convince Schneider to let him stay in the game.

Brett Ballantini of CSN Chicago has the goods:

Schneider asked Humber where the ball hit him—the pitcher attempted to block the blow with his glove but was too slow—and once Humber admitted he was hit flush on the head, Schneider insisted he leave the game, to the mild-mannered pitcher’s polite protests. Three of his four outs were strikeouts, although Cleveland tapped out three hits in his 1 1/3 innings.

The White Sox said that the preliminary tests on Humber indicate he was alert and responsive once removed from the game, and that he will be further evaluated on Friday.

Humber joked about his inability to avoid line drives, noting that he was hit in the cheek by one last season. “I’ve got to get on some drills or something to get my reflexes a little faster I guess.”

He also said he expects to make his next start, though admits that “some of that’s not up to me.”

“I feel very fortunate.” No kidding.

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Minor League Baseball had its worst attendance in 14 years

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Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.

Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.

All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.