Major League Baseball is probing the Cubs for allegedly tampering in Maddon hire

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post says that Major League Baseball is investigating whether the Cubs tampered in their hire of Joe Maddon:

After receiving a request from the Rays to do so last week, MLB has unleashed its Department of Investigation to look into whether the Cubs tampered with Joe Maddon while he was still under contract to Tampa Bay, The Post has learned.

The idea alleged is that, when Maddon opted out of this deal with the Rays, he knew that the Cubs wanted him. The Cubs and Maddon have both denied that there was any tampering.

As we have seen, the Department of Investigations will stop at virtually nothing in order to get to the bottom of the matters they investigate, be it filing spurious lawsuits, purchasing stolen documents and eventually getting the right people to crack. I eagerly await them to do the same here. Because they’ll do that, right?

Short of that, I’d expect a few interviews and, possibly, a negotiated thing in which the Cubs send the Rays a draft pick or something.

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.