Tony La Russa doesn’t have a whole heck of a lot to do this spring, what with retiring and all. But he’s good buddies with Jim Leyland — La Russa hired Leyland for the White Sox’ staff back in the early 80s when Leyland was a Tigers’ minor league manager — so Jimmy is doing him a solid:
La Russa, the longtime manager who retired after leading St. Louis to another World Series title last fall, will spend this Spring Training in camp with the Tigers in a non-uniform, non-official capacity. Leyland made the announcement while talking with reporters on Thursday after arriving at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Of course the way the Tigers seem to be heading these days, it’s possible that La Russa ends up as their starting shortstop. Leyland will say something about how, sure, his defense may not be up to snuff, but he brings so many other things to the game that it’s worth the tradeoff.
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.