People of a certain age remember spring training being a sparsely-attended affair. People milling about in the mornings watching workouts and then a thousand or two watching games that afternoon. Not anymore.
Major League Baseball just announced that the average attendance for spring training games reached a record high of 8,078 fans per game over 447 games this year. That’s a 7.3 percent increase over last year. The previous record for annual attendance 7,793 per game set in 2008. For total attendance this year’s spring training tally of 3,610,738 fans was the fifth-highest ever.
A lot of the attendance increase is attributable to the Cubs new park in Mesa, Arizona, which averaged 14,254 fans per game. Into the early 90s the Indians and Braves wouldn’t come close to averaging that for regular season games. Before then it was common for multiple teams each year to fall short of that mark.
It’s just a difference scene in the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues these days.
Wednesday night’s Phillies-Mets game did not feature any beanballs or benches-clearing brawls, but it did feature Rhys Hoskins getting his revenge against Jacob Rhame. Last night, Rhame threw a fastball up-and-in at Hoskins. Rhame maintained his innocence, though Hoskins was skeptical.
Hoskins got a chance for revenge against Rhame in the ninth inning with the Phillies already ahead 4-0. Bryce Harper drew a leadoff walk. Hoskins then worked a 1-1 count before drilling a 95 MPH fastball over the left field fence for a two-run home run. Hoskins milked his accomplishment, taking a 34-second stroll around the bases. For a point of comparison, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo notes that noted speedster Bartolo Colón had a 30.5-second trot around the bases after homering in 2016. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki notes that Hoskins’ longest home run trot prior to this was clocked at 28.88 seconds. Wednesday’s trot was the first this season above 30 seconds across the league.
The dinger is Hoskins’ seventh of the season. He also walked and tripled in Wednesday’s 6-0 win. On the season, Hoskins is now batting .273/.402/.580 with 20 RBI and 18 runs scored in 107 plate appearances.