Add the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies to the list of baseball’s post-season teams.
The Phillies clinched their third straight National League East divisional title Wednesday night, September 30, with a 10-3 drubbing of the Houston Astros, bringing the total of National League playoff teams to three.
The other two NL playoff teams are the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Colorado Rockies are on the verge of securing the NL Wildcard and could do so today.
But as the playoffs rapidly approach, news of the league’s regular season attendance decline sent a chill over the excitement.
According to published reports, the overall regular season attendance is expected to drop about 6.5 percent once figures are finalized, the biggest single-season decline in more than 50 years.
Despite the percentage drop, the regular season will likely end with more than 75.2 million fans going through the turnstiles, the fourth highest amount in league history.
“Given that we are in the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, it is stunning,” Commissioner Bud Selig told USA Today. “This year is a great testament to the huge popularity of our sport.”
Even the New York Yankees saw a 13 percent drop in home attendance this season, down to 3.72 million from 4.29 million in 2008, though much of that can be attributed to the new Yankee Stadium being smaller than the previous House that Ruth Built. The new stadium holds more than 5,000 fewer fans per game at capacity.
High ticket prices, which the team was forced to cut, contributed to the team boasting only seven sellouts all season, compared to 58 the previous season, according to published reports.