Pirates lineup at Cubs; and woe is baseball!

Pirates lineup for tonight’s game in Wrigley:

  • LF: Starling Marte
  • RF: Travis Snider
  • CF: Andrew McCutchen
  • 3B: Pedro Alvarez
  • C: Russell Martin
  • 2B: Neil Walker
  • 1B: Travis Ishikawa
  • SS: Jordy Mercer
  • P : Charlie Morton
And, why not? That lineup is 3-1 this season.
* * *
This doesn’t quite qualify as another one of those “baseball is dying” Chicken Little cries, but even someone as knowledgeable and respected as Bill Madden buys into a common misconception.
He wrote over the weekend:
“It’s an unfortunate proven fact that never was the game more popular than at the height of the steroid era in the late 1990s, when home runs were flying out of ballparks in bunches.”
Proven fact? Yes, chicks and everyone else loves the long ball, and that culture did ratchet up the popularity that sagged after the 1994-95 play stoppage. But more popular than now?
In 1998, the Summer of the Chase (Mark McGwire v Sammy Sosa) 12 of the 30 teams drew fewer than 2 million and the aggregate MLB attendance  was 70,372,221.
Last season, only eight teams were under 2 mil and had a total gate of 74,026,895.
Narrowing that focus down to one team, the Giants in ’98 were one of the sub-2 million clubs. According to the team accounting announced today, the G-Men have already sold 2.8 million tickets for this season.
And, oh, MLB set an all-time preseason attendance record, Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues combined.
Yep, really hurting.

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