As of this morning, the Pittsburgh Pirates are 4 games over .500 and are only 2 games behind the Reds in the NL Central. The Pirates have teased their fans before, threatening to have a winning season only to fold like a beach chair late in the year. Perhaps that will happen again in 2012; but there is a degree of optimism in Pittsburgh that demonstrates itself at the turnstile at PNC Park.
The Pirates have played 36 home games and have drawn an average of 24,031 fans per game. That extrapolates to just over 1.9M fans for the season – - and if the Pirates stay in contention until the Steelers start to play for real, they might cross the 2 million attendance line. The Pirates drew over 2 million fans in 2001, which is the year that PNC Park opened; I believe that is the only time they did so.
In the American League, the Baltimore Orioles remain in second place in the AL East on a day when the division leading Yankees put CC Sabathia on the DL and announced that Andy Pettite will miss at least 4 starts. Orioles’ fans have decided to show up year; the Orioles are averaging 25,970 fans per game representing an increase of just over 6 thousand fans per game compared to last season. The Orioles are on pace to draw just over 2.1 million fans for the year.
Bob Molinaro had this comment in Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot recently:
“Finally: I can’t be the only one who thinks MLB’s interleague schedule drags out too long each season. But if I am, I’ve been consistent. For me, interleague play remains a gimmick I could do without.”
Professor Molinaro has indeed been consistent on this matter. Nonetheless, I am afraid that I will have to pass along some bad news in case he has chosen not to deal with an oncoming reality. Starting next year, there will be 15 teams in each of the major leagues. The fact that there is an odd number of teams in each league demands an interleague schedule that starts on Opening Day and continues through the final series in early October. That reality leads to a philosophical question:
If interleague play spans the entirety of the baseball season, does that change it from “a gimmick” to “the natural order of things”?
Since I have been talking about baseball – - and have been watching a lot of baseball games on my cable system – - , here is something I have never seen and do not expect to see any time soon:
A batter takes a called third strike with runners in scoring position.
Then, the batter bows his head and points his finger toward the sky as he trots to the dugout.
There is a story this morning on CBSsports.com that says Marlon Byrd will be paid his full salary while he sits out his 50-game suspension for a positive PED test. The reason he will get his full pay is based in the arcane rules of the baseball CBA. When the Red Sox released Marlon Byrd prior to the suspension, that meant that the balance of his contract became “termination pay” which means his contract with the Red Sox – - and to some extent the Cubs prior to his being with the Red Sox – - has to be honored from that point forward. So Marlon Byrd will get paid.
That leads to another philosophical question today:
What is the difference between a suspension with full pay and a vacation?
With the NBA Draft imminent and with the Charlotte Bobcats being such a miserable squad, I think it is important to consider this observation from Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel:
“Anybody have any idea why Michael Jordan hired college assistant coach Mike Dunlap to be the head coach of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats? The only thing I can think of is that M.J. is trying to prove that Kwame Brown isn’t the worst personnel decision he’s ever made.”
After Rafael Nadal won the French Open Tennis Tournament, he reported that someone stole a watch from his hotel room. That watch was not a Timex; that watch was worth $347K. There are plenty of folks who would wish that their 401(k) plan was worth $347K and Greg Cote of the Miami Herald probably summed up the thoughts of many of those folk:
“If I’m spending $347,000 for a watch, it had better be able to turn back the hands of time.”
Finally, here is one more gem from Greg Cote:
“The [Florida] Panthers picked 23rd on Friday night in the NHL Draft, which is generally considered to be the largest gathering of white teenagers outside of an Eminem concert.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………