Ian Desmond takes his brother-in-law deep

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It’s going to be an awkward 4th of July barbecue next week: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond homered off brother-in-law Josh Roenicke in the game against the Rockies on Thursday.

The two had never faced each other before this week, but they’ve done so twice during the four-game series, with Desmond winning both battles. The red-hot Desmond tripled off Roenicke back on Monday.

Both Desmond and Roenicke are having nice seasons. Desmond is second among major league shortstops with 13 homers and first with 36 extra-base hits. Roenicke entered the day 3-0 with a 2.64 ERA in 44 1/3 innings out of the pen for Colorado, though it looks like he might end up with the loss in this one.

As for their relationship, Roenicke is married to Desmond’s sister. According to MLB.com, Josh and Nikki met in Florida in 2006 while Josh was in spring training with the Reds. They married in 2010.

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.