Mariano Rivera unsure about playing beyond next season

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After moving past Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves leaderboard yesterday Mariano Rivera was asked whether he plans to keep playing once his current contract with the Yankees is up following next season:

Every year it’s harder and harder. So I mean it’s a decision that we have to make as a family and we’ll go from there. I know that I have another year going on. I don’t know if I can pitch for another three years guys. It’s hard out there. It’s not easy. And I have no hair left. So I don’t know, I don’t know. Like I said I know that I have another year and then after that, I’ll let you know.

It might seem “harder and harder” for Rivera at age 41–especially with “no hair left”–but his actual performance certainly hasn’t declined any. He’s saved 43 games with a 1.98 ERA and 57/7 K/BB ratio in 59 innings this season, posting the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his brilliant career while being on pace for his most saves since 2003. And his velocity has remained pretty steady during the past handful of seasons, with his cutter actually clocking in slightly faster than in 2009 and 2010.

Getting to 700 saves may not mean a ton to Rivera, but he has a chance to get there and set the bar for future closers ridiculously high considering no other active pitcher has even 350 right now. Rivera is under contract for $15 million next season and projects to have around 640 saves by the time he has to decide whether to re-up with the Yankees again.

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.