Pirates pitcher Steven Brault releases showtunes album ‘A Pitch at Broadway’

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First and foremost, let it be clear that I am no theater buff. I also didn’t major in vocal performance like Steven Brault did. I certainly don’t have the necessary blessings from the heavens to both have a good voice and a major league arm. Brault has both. Some guys have everything.

As if the mere act of reaching the big leagues wasn’t enough, Brault decided to flex on all of us yesterday by dropping an album of him performing songs from a variety of musicals, including “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” The Pirates left-hander is no stranger to putting his vocal talents to use during his baseball career, having performed the national anthem at Pirates games on multiple occasions. The dude’s got pipes.

Like I said, I’m no theater buff. I’ve only seen a few shows on Broadway. It’s not that I don’t enjoy musicals, it’s just that I don’t get out to see them all that often. So while I’m not exactly an expert on these matters, Brault’s voice sounds right at home in these songs to me. His vocal training shines through and he’s a naturally gifted singer. I particularly enjoyed his rendition of “Music of the Night” from “Phantom,” and I say that as someone who can’t stand Andrew Lloyd Webber (no, there aren’t any jellicle “Cats” covers on the album).

Brault’s Pittsburgh teammate Josh Bell has a cameo on the album, providing some spoken word work on “Wait for Me” from “Hadestown.”

“A Pitch at Broadway” is available on Apple Music and Spotify. You can find Brault’s website here.

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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.