The Indians yesterday had a "stunning walk-up crowd" of nearly 10,000 fans for their afternoon game against the Tigers, drawing 29,346 to watch the club win their Al-record 21st game in a row, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY (9/14). In Cleveland, Paul Hoynes writes walk-up crowds are "supposed to be a thing of the past at Progressive Field" in the era of dynamic ticket pricing. However, for the Indians' last two games, fans have been "waiting to get into the ballpark until well after the first pitch." It "felt like a playoff crowd" yesterday at Progressive Field (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 9/14). THE ATHLETIC's Zack Meisel noted the Indians "haven’t recorded any sellouts this week," but advance ticket sales are "typically few and far between for a weeknight game in mid-September against a familiar opponent." The Indians for the season are "averaging 24,849 fans per home date," an increase of 26.5% over last season. The club is "on pace to draw 2.01 million fans to the ballpark this season" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/13). Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Joe Noga writes around 250,000 homes in Northeast Ohio "tuned in" for Tuesday night's Tigers-Indians matchup on SportsTime Ohio, in which the team tied the AL record for consecutive wins. It was the "second-highest rated telecast this season behind opening day on April 11." Ratings for September Indians games are up 50% over '16. To date this season, ratings are up 27% over '16 figures (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 9/14).
ALL A-TWITTER: The Indians' streak is inspiring plenty of fun and humorous tweets. Author Stephen King: "I'm sure I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I congratulate the Indians on their 21-game streak, and when I hope they peaked too soon." SI.com's Ted Keith: "Think of the Indians streak this way: There have been 1,235 team seasons in AL history. Cleveland is the first one to win 21 straight." Super 70s Sports: "Indians are so on fire they just called up Ricky Vaughn and Jake Taylor." MLB.com's Jordan Bastian: "The last time Indians lost: A stamp cost 49 cents. Milk cost $2.25. Donald Trump was President. Kids who are 22 days old weren't even born." On a more critical note, Fox Sports Radio's Jason Smith tweeted, "No sport blows chances to market itself more than MLB does. Indians going for 21 needs to be on national TV at night & promoted." LeBron James posted a congratulatory video via The Uninterrupted's feed:
Tigers Owner Chris Ilitch said that the team is "not for sale," according to a front-page piece by Daniel Howes of the DETROIT NEWS. Ilitch: "I am committed and we are committed to long-term Ilitch family ownership of the Detroit Tigers." Ilitch, the son of late Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch, dismissed "pointed public speculation that dismantling a perennial contender ... is a precursor to peddling the team." The Tigers in the last month have traded P Justin Verlander and OF Justin Upton, and Ilitch said, "My father would have done the exact same thing that we are doing. ... The approach that they’re taking right now is exactly the approach that he followed." Ilitch's comments closely echo his father's promise before his death in February that Ilitch Holdings' "myriad collection of assets" would "remain '100 percent' controlled by the family." Howes writes Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert has "long been rumored to covet owning the Tigers" (DETROIT NEWS, 9/14). Financial media outlet BENZINGA.com's Joel Elconin wrote, "I'm sticking my neck out with this prediction: The Ilitch family is going to sell the Detroit Tigers." The front office's actions this summer "closely resemble the repair of a home before it's put up for sale." Over the last month, the team "shed some major salaries and potential liabilities." The Ilitch family may also "have to pay an inheritance tax on its assets" in '17. If the family "doesn't have the ample cash, or doesn't want to part with it," one way the Ilitch's can "generate cash without tax on the gains" is by selling the Tigers (BENZINGA.com, 9/13).
A Rams-Chargers game "isn't on the league’s schedule" this week, but it is the "most important matchup in the NFL," according to Josh Peter of USA TODAY. The two teams will be "playing 12 miles apart," with Redskins-Rams at L.A. Memorial Coliseum at 4:25pm ET, and Dolphins-Chargers at StubHub Center in Carson at 4:05pm. With the games will begin in "earnest a battle for the hearts, minds and disposable income in a town that has yet to prove it can support two NFL teams." The Rams and Chargers are "not only competing with each other." They are also "competing with two of everything -- MLB teams, NBA teams, NHL teams and MLS teams." And, "of course, the beach" (USA TODAY, 9/14). ESPN’s Arash Markazi said there is a "fever for the NFL" in L.A., but it is not for "bad football." Markazi: "When you see these images of the empty seats I kind of wish there was a little graphic that said the Rams were 4-12 last year." Markazi said he "blames the teams" for the poor attendance, because it is a "bad product on the field." He noted USC is ranked No. 4 in the country and there will be "90,000 people" at Saturday's home game against Texas. Markazi also said there is "no connection" with the Rams and Chargers. Markazi: "When you don't have a connection with the team for over 21 years, a generation of fans has been lost." He also said the NFL is "not doing these two teams a service here" by having both play at home ("OTL," ESPN, 9/13). The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke said, "I don't blame L.A. fans for not showing up. They won four games last year. ... In this town, you have to win to get fans" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 9/11).
LOUD & CLEAR: In San Diego, Kevin Acee notes there is a billboard containing "anti-NFL" images a "couple miles from StubHub Center" in Carson. Five rotating images will be "posted on the sign over the next three weeks." Each image "contains a picture and text taking issue with the NFL" and/or Chargers Chair Dean Spanos. In one, Rams Owner Stan Kroenke is "pictured beside Spanos while the text refers to the Chargers arrangement as a tenant in Kroenke's Inglewood stadium" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/14). CBSSPORTS.com's John Breech noted Joseph MacRae, a "jilted Chargers fan," paid for the messages that will appear on the billboard. The Chargers have "three home games in a row beginning this week." MacRae's plan "isn't to bash the Chargers, instead, he's using the messages on the billboard to bash" the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell. MacRae said that the big reason he wanted to purchase a billboard is because he "wanted to see someone call the NFL out on its B.S." The billboard company "has assured" MacRae that they "won't be coming down early, even if the NFL tries to make that happen" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/13).
The Penguins are once again using players to "deliver season tickets to select fans," and several, including C Sidney Crosby, yesterday "made stops around the Pittsburgh area," according to Sam Werner of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Crosby came into one family's kitchen, "dropped off the tickets and signed a wide array of Penguins memorabilia." Crosby: "It’s fun to see the kids’ reactions. They just want to get outside and play hockey right away." Penguins fan Adam Proctor, whose home Crosby visited, said, "It’s just something simple that he does in his day, and all the players do, but it means the world to me and to my family. I know that my sons will be talking about this 20 years from now" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/14). USA TODAY's Kevin Allen notes it is an "annual tradition for the Penguins to send out players throughout the metropolitan area to deliver tickets to 50 season ticket-holders." The selected winners, "chosen randomly, are informed a player is coming, but the identity isn’t revealed until he shows up." Crosby said, "This is really a nice thing that the team does because you get to meet the people. When you play, it’s just a mass of people, but you don’t meet anyone one-on-one" (USATODAY.com, 9/13).
The Red Sox yesterday "announced a 'long-term agreement'" with former MLBer David Ortiz to "serve in a variety of roles" for the club and Fenway Sports Management. In Boston, Peter Abraham notes Ortiz "struck an open-ended deal" with the Red Sox that will include "mentoring young players, assisting in recruiting free agents, making appearances on behalf of the team, and working in business development" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/14). Also in Boston, Chad Jennings writes although the Red Sox "called the deal 'unprecedented,' it seems at least vaguely similar" to the special assistant roles Baseball HOFer Pedro Martinez and former MLBer Jason Varitek have with the club (BOSTON HERALD, 9/14).
MISSING THE MESSAGE? In Pittsburgh, Joe Starkey reports Pirates attendance is down more than 20% since '15 while TV ratings are also "plunging." But Pirates Owner Bob Nutting is not "getting the message" or perhaps "realizes that a fix might begin with him." Nutting "appears eager to stem the ticket revenue decline by any means necessary," such as "dumping a perfectly good player (Juan Nicasio) for no discernible reason other than to save $600,000." Starkey: "If anybody in his organization told Nutting how catastrophically such a move -- minor as it was -- would play with a livid fan base, he didn’t listen" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/14).
TRUST FUND: SunTrust Bank yesterday said that it had finalized $600M worth of financing "for the Rangers' portion" of Globe Life Field, the club's retractable-roof ballpark opening in '20. In Dallas, Jeff Mosier notes as part of "preparations to finance the ballpark project," Arlington officials refinanced $189.7M in bonds the city issued several years ago to finance AT&T Stadium. The city "plans to raise more money by issuing new bonds early next year" to pay for the 40,000-seat ballpark (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/14).