This year’s baseball season is shaping up to have more MLS cities in contention than in past years. The Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners are off to really good starts, and this is not good news for MLS. Currently, both teams sit in first place of their respective divisions. These two cities have drawn better at the gate than any other MLS teams, but will it continue if their baseball counterparts continue to position themselves for a playoff push?
In Toronto on Saturday, Soccer outdrew baseball. According to MLS-daily.com’s attendance and YahooSports attendance figures for boxscores in baseball, Toronto FC had 19,998 and the Toronto Bluejays had 18,331.
The one city MLS need not worry about in baseball is Washington, D.C. The Nationals are the worse team in baseball. But on Saturday, they still outdrew arguably the proudest MLS team. They drew 19,9950 to the United’s 14,225. Go figure that one.
The biggest story in baseball so far has been the Los Angeles Dodgers. They look like they might run away with the division. If they do, ultimately, that could be better for the 2 LA soccer teams. But, surely they will be a story to watch for Southern California sports fans this summer. It also looks like the LA Angels will hang around to try and win the division as they have hung around pretty well for each of the last 10 years , either winning divisions or making it close.
The Dodgers drew 47,000 Saturday, while the Galaxy drew 21,000. Surely, the Galaxy would have done better head to head Saturday had Manny not signed that big contract, and had Beckham stuck to the plan.
At Wrigley Field, the Cubs drew 40,000, probably to be expected, knowing the history there. The Cubs are a decent team this year and they carry a more than 100 year relationship with sports. Their drout makes them always the lovable loser and an interesting team when they win. It would be better for the Fire, who drew 10,000 on Saturday, if the Cubs have a crappy season, but that’s not happening apparently.
The Fire need to be compared head to head to the White Sox too, who also seem to be contending. In fact, because of parity, it seems many MLS cities are competing in baseball this year, like the Astros and Rangers. But, maybe they’ll sail out of contention as the year moves on.
The Royals of Kansas City would definitely seem a likely candidate to sail out of contention, but it doesn’t help MLS or the Wiz that the Royals are having a decent season. They have been bad for a long time, so when they are good, it seems an anomaly, and fans start to pay attention.
One team who won’t fall out of contention this year is the Philadelphia Phillies, the defending champs. They are riding a wave in which the core of the team is sticking around. The Phillies have reestablished themselves with their fans via a new stadium and may make it rough on the newest expansion team for MLS next year.
In Colorado, the Rockies seem to be in the decline, and it appears it will be a long season for their fans. But, the Nuggets of the NBA are picking up the slack, pulling out John Elway of Arena Football League fame to announce their starting 5 in a crazed playoff atmosphere last night. The hockey team had a bad year and the Broncos had an unusual year, so as the Rapids average 11,000 in attendance, is it maybe a result of too much sports for one town? 5 pro teams may be one too many.
Colorado seems a good case for general managers from MLS to look to not schedule head to head against rival sports leagues.
It seems it is best to hold back on any judgement on the Red Bulls as everyone awaits their new stadium, which looks appealing. Next year will be interesting to see how they do head to head versus the Mets and Yankees.