It’s a Jose Fernandez Mystery Team Alert!

Associated Press
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The “Mystery Team” thing was invented by Jon Heyman at the 2010 Winter Meetings in Florida. That’s when he published a rumor in Sports Illustrated that then-free agent Cliff Lee was being courted by “the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and a third mystery team.” He added — and I am not making this up — that “the mystery team remains a mystery and is also seen as a long shot.”

The very next day Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies who were, in fact, the “Mystery Team.” And with that a meme was born.

The Mystery Team things is almost 100% ironic now as no one since then, I don’t believe anyway, has ever reported a Mystery Team rumor at face value. There’s always a wink to it and a tacit acknowledgement of that crazy Cliff Lee Mystery Team rumor. I think anyone who actually uses it is obligated to pay Heyman royalties or something. With this, Jayson Stark just cut Heyman a check, methinks:

An unidentified fourth team is making a “very strong” bid to trade for Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, sources told ESPN. Other clubs say they believe that mystery team is the Houston Astros, but neither team would confirm that Tuesday morning.

As Stark notes, the Dodgers, Dbacks, and Yankees have all talked to the Marlins about Fernandez. And the Marlins keep saying Fernandez is not available. As we’ve noted in the past, however, there is some bad blood between Fernandez and the Fish, so the notion that they wouldn’t consider trading him for a hefty offer seems a tad far-fetched. The Marlins, eventually, trade everyone.

Why they’d take a different approach now would be, well, a mystery.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

mlb
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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.