Nationals think Brandon Kintzler spilled clubhouse dirt to press

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The Nationals stood basically pat at the trade deadline, believing that, despite their struggles thus far, they still stood a good chance of winning the division. It’s not a terrible assumption, necessarily. They are a much better team, talent wise, than their record suggests. All it really takes is a good week or two of play combined with a stumble or two from the Phillies and/or Braves and they’re right in the thick of it.

Even if you don’t buy that, there’s no obvious trade they could’ve made, save dealing Bryce Harper, that would’ve made a huge difference for the course of the franchise. But they did make one trade. They dealt reliever Brandon Kintzler to the Chicago Cubs. Today Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post said why:

Kintzler was shipped out because the Nationals believed he was responsible for anonymous reports that painted Washington’s clubhouse culture as iffy.

“Dysfunctional?” Manager Dave Martinez said. “I don’t see any dysfunction in our clubhouse. I see a lot of cohesiveness, a lot of togetherness.”

The “anonymous reports” no doubt refers to a story Jeff Passan of Yahoo wrote the other day in which the Nats clubhouse was described as “a mess.” That story was published just after noon on Monday. Kintzler was dealt a little over 24 hours later. For his part, Kintzler denies being Passan’s source.

Who knows who Passan’s source was — neither the source nor Passan will ever say so — but this does strike me as some killing-the-messenger stuff. I’d be one thing if Kintzler was the cause of the reported clubhouse dysfunction, but no one is saying that. He was just telling people about it. Which, sure, is not the sort of thing a team likes, but it’s also way less of a problem than having clubhouse unrest in the first place.

In any event, the Nats beat the tar out of the Mets last night and, as I said, they may still very well go on and win the division if they get their act together. If they do, I imagine they’ll look back at this time as when they all pulled together as a unit. How much of that pulling together will be attributed to sending Kintzler off will be rather interesting to see.

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.