A Rays minor leaguer takes issue with Bryce Harper’s “Make Baseball Fun Again” hat

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At some point you learn not to get baited. It’s a hard lesson to learn. I’m an old man who has been in the trolling game since before some of you were born, and even I get baited into making a dumb argument when silence or an eye roll would be the wiser choice. It happens. If you’re a 21-year-old kid, though? God help you. You’ll learn eventually, but in the meantime you’re gonna take the bait more often than you don’t.

That’s the story of Rays minor leaguer Brent Honeywell, who took to Twitter today to respond to Bryce Harper’s “Make Baseball Fun Again” hat from yesterday’s postgame. Harper, of course, set off a new round of “Respect the Game” politics last month with an interview in ESPN the Magazine. That made a bunch of old coots angry and they raged for a bit and then, as it always does, it died down. This hat is a sly wink wrapped up in a Donald Trump joke, not a new offensive in this long and brutal war. Even if you’re so crusty that you think Goose Gossage is a baseball-hating wuss, you’d probably, at best, think that Harper is a fool and go on with your day.

Not Honeywell. His account is here. I’ll present his tweets as screencaps, because I feel like this one ends up with the Rays PR department telling him to delete the tweets:

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It seems he may have already deleted a tweet in which he suggested that Bryce Harper — a man who, while not that much older than Honeywell, DOES happen to be the reigning MVP — “respect the game a little bit.”

Godspeed, Brent. I hope, as one of your tweet replies said, that you get to face Bryce Harper one day. I imagine that would be pretty interesting.

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.