The Washington Nationals season of chaos

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We can talk about Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon. We can talk about injuries. We can talk about those Amazin’ Mets. But just about everything you need to know about the 2015 Washington Nationals can be found in this amazing article from Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post.

In it, Svrluga talks about how general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams lost this team. About how the trade for Jonathan Papelbon upset a good portion of the clubhouse and how Williams’ treatment of his players upset anyone who wasn’t already angry and further antagonized those who were.

Two major examples Svrluga cites of Williams’ failure: (1) his poor management of the bullpen which, in addition to putting the wrong guys in the wrong situations, alienated players and put them into a position where they were less likely to succeed; and (2) not communicating with players about their roles and playing time.

A vivid example of the latter came when Jayson Werth showed up one day to find that he was not in the lineup. Svrluga notes something most of us don’t think about much: getting mad about not being in the lineup is not necessarily an ego thing. It’s a preparation thing. If you know you’re sitting, you can relax more. Maybe sleep more. Maybe come in later. You can actually get a mental break the night before and day of a game that may be just as much if not more needed than the physical break. As such, managers let players know when they’re going to get a day off after the previous game. Williams didn’t do that, and it led to this scene with Werth, who had just discovered his name was not in the lineup:

Incensed, Werth ripped the lineup card off the wall, bellowing that it was going to change. Then, according to several people who were present, he confronted Williams — not just about whether he would play that day, but about what most of the clubhouse considered to be a chronic lack of communication with his players. Among the most jarring barbs, from Werth to Williams: “When exactly do you think you lost this team?”

Absolutely damning stuff.

If Williams and possibly Mike Rizzo have a job on Monday, I will be shocked. And I will be inclined to believe that the Lerners simply don’t give a crap about their team.

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.