Dodgers clinch first National League West title since 2009

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It wasn’t too long ago that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was on the brink of being fired, but now his team is the first in MLB to clinch a division title this season. What a wild ride.

The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 7-6 this afternoon at Chase Field to wrap up the National League West. It is their first division title since 2009.

The Dodgers trailed 6-3 after the third inning, but they chipped away until A.J. Ellis put them ahead with a solo homer off Josh Collmenter in the top of the eighth inning. Hanley Ramirez, who sat out Wednesday with lingering back issues, went 4-for-5 with two homers and four RBI in the victory.

Mattingly’s job was in danger when the high-priced Dodgers were sitting in last place at 30-42 on June 21, but they have gone a major league-best 58-23 since. While the remarkable turnaround is complete and the division is decided, the Dodgers still have home-field in the National League to play for. As of now, both the Cardinals and Braves have better records. Still, they will be a very formidable opponent come postseason time.

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.