MLB, the MLBPA announce the creation of the Puerto Rico Summer League

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As far as the development of amateur baseball talent goes, Puerto Rico is caught in a weird no-man’s land.

Players from Puerto Rico are subject to the Major League draft, which, kills the incentive for teams and scouts to go there and develop teenage talent like they do in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. I mean, why develop a kid if some other team can draft them?  At the same time, there is not enough wealth in Puerto Rico to support the sort of talent development which now rules in the United States and Canada (i.e. expensive youth leagues). Since the imposition of the draft in Puerto Rico in 1990, the once rich vein of talent heading from there to the big leagues has all but dried up.

Major League Baseball has been working on this problem for a while now. Chucking the draft there would help solve it, of course, but that’s not happening because MLB loves the draft. They have, however, done something in conjunction with the MLBPA and announced it today:

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association today formally announced the creation of the Puerto Rico Summer League, which began play on June 3 . . . The Puerto Rico Summer League is a joint initiative that MLB and the MLBPA created to support the collective commitment of both organizations to the development of youth baseball in Puerto Rico.  The newly-created league will give Puerto Rican players between the ages of 14 and 17 more opportunities to play baseball during the summer.

More chances to play means more time to develop and more opportunities to be seen by scouts. So, while this isn’t a cure-all, it’s a nice step.

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.