A-Rod is only 27 homers shy of Babe Ruth

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I hadn’t really thought of that, but it’s true. Alex Rodriguez hit 33 homers last year, bringing him up to 687 and that leaves him a very doable 27 homers shy of the Bambino.

It’s something that certainly won’t cause the same level of controversy or outrage it might have if it was on the horizon a year or two ago. Then A-Rod was a pariah and his club was poised to fight him and ignore his accomplishments in any way that it could. But man, what a difference a year makes.

To see what kind of difference it makes, go check out Kevin Kernan’s article at the New York Post. He caught up with A-Rod who talks about what a crazy year it has been for him in terms of image rehabilitation. And not just image: the guy really seems to have gone through some sort of late-career attitude metamorphosis, in which he now appreciates the game and the fans and realized how close he came to losing them.

I’m not gonna say he’s turned into some Great Person — the fact is that we never can really know these guys personally to say whether they truly are bad dudes or good dudes — but he’s certainly a more appreciative and humble dude than he used to be. It’s some interesting stuff.

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.