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MLB Attendance Drops: Cubs vs. Nationals Preview, Tuesday 8/24, 6:05 CT

Today's Tribune dead-tree edition had, in its MLB standings, a team-by-team comparison of this year's attendance to last year's. This isn't online so I can't provide a link, but here are some of the highlights:

  • The only team that is significantly above last year's attendance is the Twins (+10,468 per game), and that is largely due to their slick new stadium.
  • 16 teams are down in average, ranging from -196 per game (Athletics) to -6,092 per game (Mets). The Cubs are down 1,518 per game and that number is likely to increase as September arrives.
  • The 13 teams besides the Twins that are up range from +159 per game (Cardinals) to +2,698 per game (Rockies).

Now, what's missing from the list of teams that are up? Contending teams, besides the Cardinals, who are almost at par with last year, and the Twins. The Braves, riding high in first place, are up slightly (+393 per game), but drew only 9,510 more for an entire three-game home series last week than the crowd that saw them play on one day last Saturday at Wrigley Field. The Rays, who are tied for the best record in baseball, are down 1,388 per game from last year (when they missed the playoffs), and during their three-game sweep over the AL West first-place Rangers averaged 18,629 per game. The contending White Sox are down 796 per game. The Padres, running away with the NL West, are up only 1,517 per game even though they have thousands of seats every game that cost $27 or less.

Baseball teams may have finally priced their product too high, such that in an economic recession people won't go even to see a winning team. It's a cautionary tale, I think. I will have more to say about Cubs attendance when I see how the next homestand draws.

The Nationals, for their part, are 14th in the NL in attendance, averaging 24,029 a game, and last night's announced total of 17,921 was their 15th smallest of the season.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
vs. John Lannan
John Lannan
4-6 W-L 5-5
4.97 ERA 5.13
64 SO 39
44 BB 40
6 HR 8
vs. Wash -- vs. Cubs

2010 - Carlos Zambrano 4-6 33 12 0 0 0 0 76.0 90 46 42 6 44 64 4.97 1.76

2010 - John Lannan 5-5 18 18 0 0 0 0 98.1 127 63 56 8 40 39 5.13 1.70

John Lannan is 2-1, 3.46 in four career starts vs. the Cubs, including a no-decision in a 4-3 Cubs win at Wrigley Field on April 26. Lannan has had a tough year and actually spent some time in Triple-A this year. That's not a misprint -- he has more walks than strikeouts in 2010. Current Cubs, though, are only 11-for-47 (.234) against him with no home runs.

Carlos Zambrano has one appearance vs. the Nationals this year in relief. Z is getting his starting numbers in order; his ERA is still 5.16 as a starter, but it's 2.70 in the three starts since his return from the restricted list. The walks are still a concern -- 15 in 16.2 innings in his those three outings. Adam Dunn has faced him most -- 13-for-60 (.217), but seven of those 13 hits are home runs.

Cubs lineup via tweet from CubsInsider:

#Cubs lineup @ #Nationals (8/24): DeWitt 2B, Castro SS, Nady 1B, Ramirez 3B, Baker RF, Soto C, Soriano LF, Colvin CF, Zambrano P

Nats lineup via tweet from NatsTownNews:

#Nationals vs. #Cubs - Morgan 8, Kennedy 4, Zim 5, Dunn 3, Bernadina 7, Pudge 2, Morse 9, Gonzalez 6, Lannan 1

Today's game is on WGN and MASN. Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Nationals site Federal Baseball.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 6 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 7 pm, 8 pm and 8:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.