Is it a problem that the Cardinals are going to wear a patch in memory of Oscar Taveras?

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Last month we learned that the Cardinals will wear a patch with Oscar Taveras’ number on it. Taveras, of course, was killed when he crashed a car he was driving in the Dominican Republic in October. Also killed was his 18-year-old girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo. Taveras was drunk at the time of the crash, well above the legal limit.

As Paul Lukas of ESPN notes, the circumstances of Taveras and Arvelo’s death are such that the Cardinals’ wearing the patch is creating some controversy. Which is understandable. After all, if Taveras had lived, he’d have been prosecuted for vehicular homicide. His acts killed himself and an innocent passenger. As Lukas puts it:

This discussion raises a number of interesting questions. Should a person’s character have any bearing on whether he’s memorialized with a patch? Does the fact that Taveras was only 22 at the time of his death make a difference in this case? Is a memorial patch an endorsement of a person’s entire life or a gesture of mourning?

Fair questions. Baseball — and the Cardinals in particular — have a checkered history with drunk driving. Players have died. Players have killed or injured others. Some, like Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock, died as a result of his own drunk driving. Others, like Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, were innocent victims. One-time Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was once arrested for drunk driving. It’s always been a problem around the game, largely ignored until quite recently.

But, despite that, I’m having a hard time taking issue with the Cardinals wearing a Taveras patch. It’d be one thing if the Cardinals went crazy here, retiring his number, proclaiming days in his honor and otherwise attempting to whitewash what happened to Edilia Arvelo and Taveras, but nothing they have done since his death suggests anything like that. Their public statements have not been such that they condone or deny Taveres’ actions or that they are seeking to minimize the danger of drunk driving or the tragedy that it causes. In light of that, to claim that a small patch honoring Taveras’ memory is the same as endorsing or excusing his actions is a bit too much in my view.

Ultimately, the Cardinals as a team lost someone they knew and loved. They knew him and loved him even if the circumstances which led to his death and the death of another were borne of his own irresponsibility. Those circumstances don’t make them love and miss him any less or make their loss any less painful. Given the relative modesty of this gesture, it seems presumptuous to me for people to tell Cardinals players that the manner of their mourning is somehow wrong.

 

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.