Carlos Beltran will finally get his chance to play for a championship

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After 199 post-season plate appearances, he is finally there. Carlos Beltran will play in the World Series for the first time. The 36-year-old had been to the National League Championship Series three times before and three times played in a Game 7, only to go home unsatisfied. Had the Cardinals not finished the job tonight in Game 6 against the Dodgers, he might never have gotten the opportunity.

It’s a well-deserved opportunity for Beltran, whose post-season production is the stuff of legend. He entered tonight’s game hitting .327/.443/.717 in 194 trips to the dish in post-season play – numbers reminiscent of Barry Bonds. He went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI singles against the Dodgers tonight. He even added an inning-ending diving catch in the gap in right-center in the fifth to take a hit away from Juan Uribe, just for good measure.

Beltran is, in the eyes of many, already a Hall of Famer. He has accumulated over 67 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference, which puts him slightly below Reggie Jackson (74.0), as an example. Others believe him to be on the cusp, and some of them would have held his lack of World Series play against him. He will get the chance to pad his credentials next Wednesday, when the World Series starts in the city of the winner of the ALCS between the Red Sox and Tigers.

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.