Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki named captains for next month’s Home Run Derby

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It’s that time again. Yes, the Home Run Derby is back for another year and today the captains for the National League and the American League were announced.

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will lead the National League squad while Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista will head up the American League group. Appropriately enough, both players are the current leading vote-getters in their respective leagues.

The rest of the competitors have yet to be announced, but four more players will be added for each league in the days to come. Tulowitzki and Bautista will now do some recruiting of their peers, though fans can make some suggestions via this poll on MLB.com. Athetics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes won last year’s competition. One would think he’d be invited back to defend his crown.

The 2014 Home Run Derby will take place on Monday, July 14 from Target Field, the home of the Twins. The 85th MLB All-Star Game will be played the following evening.

UPDATE: This year’s derby will be a little different, as each player will get seven outs per round and the competition will be bracketed after the first round. Check out details here.

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.