Just got the press release from MLB announcing the beginning of interleague play this weekend. As usual, the league touts the attendance boost it brings:
Interleague Play drew 8,468,620 fans in 2011, averaging 33,606 fans per game. The average 2011 Interleague attendance was 12.1 percent higher than the season’s final intraleague average of 29,985. Since its inception in 1997, Interleague Play has drawn an average of 33,285 fans per game, which is 11.8 percent higher than the intraleague average of 29,774 during the same span.
They always leave out the fact that interlegaue play is disproportionately centered (a) on weekends; and (b) in warm weather months. I’d like to see how a Mariners-Rockies series would draw on a Wednesday in April, but I guess we won’t know how that works until next season.
Oh well. We’re way past complaining about this. Matchups this upcoming weekend that seem fun, with the home team listed second: White Sox-Cubs, Orioles-Nationals, Red Sox-Phillies and the Braves-Rays. Actually, a series I’m most looking forward to this weekend is an intraleague thing: Cardinals-Dodgers.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.