White Sox interested in Jim Thome as hitting coach?

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Their old hitting coach, Greg Walker, just joined the Braves, and Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun Times writes that the White Sox may try to talk Jim Thome into replacing him:

Sox farm-system hitting instructors Jeff Manto or Tim Laker are thought to be the top candidates to replace Greg Walker as hitting coach, but don’t rule out the Sox making a play for a bigger name such as Jim Thome.

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf loves Thome, 41, whose playing career likely has come to an end after 21 seasons and 604 home runs. The two share the annual habit of meeting for dinner to talk about life and baseball after the season, and a major-league source said Reinsdorf was eager to move this year’s meeting up.

That seems pretty far-fetched to me, but then again the White Sox hired Robin Ventura as manager despite a complete lack of coaching experience. Thome may have a little trouble finding a full-time designated hitter gig this offseason, as that market is always overstocked, but he hit .256 with 15 homers and an .838 OPS in 93 games for the Twins and Indians. He’s definitely still productive enough to continue playing, assuming of course Thome wants to return for a 22nd season at age 41.

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.