Cole Hamels: not a fan of homegrown stars leaving via free agency

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Cole Hamels, who grew up a Padres fan, spoke to the Union-Tribune yesterday about how much of a bummer it was to see players leave via free agency when he was a kid:

“I mean, I loved that team, and all of a sudden it disappeared. I remember watching Fred McGriff before that, loving that guy, and boom, he’s gone. I think it’s hard to be a fan to devote your time to players, then see them leave like that.

“It’s not the fans. They alienate their own fans by not keeping guys around, especially the guys they develop. They won’t keep an Adrian Gonzalez or go get that big-name guy. That’s just hard on a fan.”

No word on whether that’s gonna fuel a hometown discount from Philly. You know, for the 2012 version of little Cole Hamels from, say, south Jersey, who loves watching Hamels like he loved watching Fred McGriff.

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.