Big League Stew - MLB

Eight games were played in the major leagues Monday night. Three of the venues being used announced all-time attendance lows. Three out of eight — in one night!

Here are a couple of relevant passages from last night's AP game stories.

Washington moved back over .500 by beating the Colorado Rockies 5-2
Monday night before the smallest announced crowd in Nationals Park

Only 11,623 spectators saw [Craig] Stammen (1-0) hold Colorado to
two runs and five hits-lowering his ERA from 15.63 to 8.16-before Matt
Capps pitched the ninth for his sixth save in six chances.

It's so matter-of-fact. Oh, Craig Stammen(notes) cut his ERA in half — in front of a crowd that cut its size in half.

And the Blue Jays game: 

Attendance was 10,314, the smallest crowd in the 22-year history of Rogers Centre and breaking the mark set last Wednesday, when Toronto drew 10,610 for a game against the Chicago White Sox.

Two record lows in one week's time. But it's just Washington, D.C. and Canada. Neither is a state and both feature teams that seem destined for the bottom of their divisions, no matter what their decent season starts say right now.

But what about Safeco Field? It's one of the premier venues in the majors and the Mariners have been expected to do very well this season. In fact, Doug Fister's(notes) pitching performance overshadowed the tiny attendance at Seattle so much, the AP reporter didn't even mention the crowd until the notes section.

Notes: The crowd of 14,528 was the smallest in Safeco Field's history. The previous smallest was 15,818 on May 6, 2008.

It's like, Oh, by the way ... 

Nobody in baseball's home office is going to admit being concerned about attendance just yet. But this has to set off alarms. The bells are already ringing in Houston, where attendance is down 8 percent so far. Same goes for Cleveland, which attracted a Progressive Field record-low total of 10,071 last week against Texas and Baltimore, which set a Camden Yards-low of 9,129 during a game against the Rays last Monday. (The entire Rays-Orioles series drew a total of only 33,000 fans.)

The opening of Target Field in Minneapolis should help stabilize the MLB's overall numbers — Twin Citians will flock to the place all season — but on a local level there are many teams that are going to have to hustle to put butts in their now-empty seats.  

And, as Biz of Baseball's Maury Brown points out, two of the five record-breaking teams play in the AL East. If the declining attendance is a sign of fan apathy toward the Yankees-Red Sox stranglehold, MLB could be facing this problem for awhile. 

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