Before they waffled for position in the NL West, the Dodgers were already toast in the attendance race

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The final Major League Baseball attendance totals Thursday showed the game was actually up by half of one percent from a year ago, ending three straight seasons of drops.

The overall attendance of 73,425,568 this year was the fifth-highest in MLB history. The 30 teams combined to average 30,229, STATS LLC said after the regular season ended Wednesday night. That was up from 30,067 last year,

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This, despite the Dodgers dropping 18 percent and failing to reach 3 million for the first time in a non-strike year since 1992. That is, with them counting actual seats sold as part of the average attendance of 36,236 a game. We all know it was closer to 25,000, if that, on many nights, far lower toward the end of the season as those who owned season seats continued to boycot the business dealings of owner Frank McCourt.

The worse drop, however, belonged to AL wild card winner Tampa Bay — 19 percent, to a meager 18,846 average per game. The Rays drew 29,518 on Wednesday night for their 8-7 win in 12 innings over the Yankees that put them into the playoffs.

Not even Houston, which lost a team-record 106 games, were worst percentage-wise than the Dodgers in the NL. The Astros averaged 25,546, but that was only an 11 percent drop for a year ago.

The World Series champion San Francisco Giants sold out every home game this year and drew rousing ovations in their wrapup Wednesday. San Diego drew over 32,000 fans to Petco for the season finale against the Cubs while Florida attracted 34,615 in the final game at Sun Life before moving into a new ballpark next year.

The NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies led baseball’s attendance chart for the first time, drawing 3,680,718 fans. The Phillies have had 204 straight regular-season sellouts at Citizens Bank Park — Boston has sold out 712 straight games at Fenway Park.

“The resiliency of our sport never ceases to amaze,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.

This year’s attendance remained nearly 8 percent below the record 32,785 set in 2007. During the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009, the average dropped to 32,528 in 2008 and 30,350 the following year.

Cleveland had the biggest percentage increase, up 31 percent to an average of 22,726. Other teams with big jumps were Pittsburgh (22 percent to 24,255) and Texas (18 percent to 36,382).

(By the way, you want one of those crafty L.A. toasters above? It’s $39.99 at the Baseball Hall of Fame shop — linked here That waffle-making gadget, which also works on grilled cheese sandwiches, is $49.99. Find it here).

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Say it ain’t so: Shoeless Bill Macdonald’s run on Fox Sports West ends after 26 years

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Perhaps lost in all the baseball history taking place Wednesday night, Bill Macdonald went out in SoCal style on the Angels’ Fox Sports West postgame show.

No socks. No shoes. No excuses.

Lifting his leg over the desk on the set out in center field at Angels Stadium, following the Angels-Rangers telecast on the last day of the season, Macdonald revealed what Angels manager Mike Scioscia alluded to in a just-aired post-game interview.

“I know he’s not going to leave any socks behind,” Scioscia said when asked to comment about the fact that Macdonald’s run as a full-time staffer with Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket has officially come to an end after 26 years.

Macdonald, sporting jeans and flip-flops on his final Angels’ assignment as he sat behind the desk with Jose Mota, is a Lakers’ employee as of Saturday, taking over as the TV play-by-play man for games on FSW and KCAL-Channel 9 once the NBA season decides to begin.

Macdonald said Thursday that FSW has “left the door open” for him to do free-lance work, which could include play-by-play on UCLA football in the coming weeks.

“There’s nothing on the schedule, but if the NBA lockout stretches, I could be back on a game or two,” said Macdonald. “But they have plenty of guys on staff now who could pick up those things.”

That would include Michael Eaves and Patrick O’Neal. It could soon add Chris McGee, who has plenty of play-by-play experience now as a free-lance employee on several sports.

“Billy Mac has been very influential in my career and has been a consistent face in L.A. sports for so many years,” said McGee. “He has been a mentor, and someone I have looked up to because of his personality, versatility, and his great wit and sense of humor. I am so happy to see him get the Lakers job, he deserves it and can’t wait to hear him as the Lakers’ voice.”

McGee, a longtime fixture on the beach volleyball circuit, does sport the appropriate hosiery. Just so you know.

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What can Jenn Brown do for GNC? Give ESPN another reason for the supple reporter to supplement her income

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How healthy is it for ESPN to approved an endorsement deal for pretend reporter Jenn Brown to work as a spokesperson for GNC nutritional products?

The company has apparently given her muscle to do so after setting down new guidelines for on-air personalities who have promotional deals with companies, particularity trying to avoid a conflict of interest if they provide goods and services to teams or athletes that are “regularly covered” by ESPN.

“Having been a student athlete throughout my life, participating as an honor student in diving, volleyball, basketball, softball and track and field in high school and as a NCAA softball player at the University of Florida, I know and understand the value of education, health and nutrition,” Brown said in a statement. “Being part of the GNC team, I am looking forward to continuing my efforts to inform, educate and inspire fellow fitness enthusiasts on living a healthy and balanced lifestyle.”

Maybe she can get some folks at ESPN deals on creatine next time she stops into the local mall? Or at least some FDA-approved diet pills?

The GNC press release (linked here) also refers to Brown as a “two-time Emmy Award winning sports journalists” who is an L.A.-based reporter. So maybe we’re thinking of someone else then.

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Not that anyone was saving the cover of the March 31 Boston Herald ready to throw it back in someone’s face on Sept. 29

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Even those at MassholeSports.com could see this coming a half-year away when they posted this Boston Herald cover almost exactly six months ago.

“The 2011 Red Sox havent even played one real game, yet the Boston Herald is declaring the 2011 Red Sox the best Red Sox team ever. No disrespect to the 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004 and 2007 teams of course.”

At the Boston Herald site that day, however, they kind of couched it (linked here): “Yeah, We’re Saying It: This Could Be Sox … Best Team Ever.”

Or more accurately: Best team that gagged on the largest lead for an AL wildcard ever after Wednesday night but gave John Lacky a chance to breath a sigh of relief that he didn’t have to go to the mound anymore in 2011.

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How $425 will get you the opportunity to make you feel like you’re on your way to being a legit sportswriter

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Go from dunce to diploma in a six-week online course taught by Alison Overholt, a former deputy editor at ESPN who worked for the network’s magazine, did special projects, investigative things and helped launch the espnW women’s project.

It starts Oct. 18. And it’ll cost you $425. A bargain, perhaps, in this economy. Or for someone who didn’t get into Northwestern as they thought they could.

“Intro to Sports Journalism” promises that you’ll “learn how to write sports articles, interviews, and features” via a MediaBistrol.com online course. We did have a journalism prof who told us that there’s no need for that extra comma in this instance betwen the words “interviews” and “and” … or that once you start a sentence with the verb “to write,” it would imply that all nouns after it are related to it, but then, you wouldn’t write “interviews,” would you? Features, sure. But then …

Maybe we should sign up (linked here) and see what we can relearn about the craft. Especially if there are better spell-check software uploads available to catch street slang.

What we are told we’ll learn:

== Which sports stories editors want to buy and readers want to read
== The best places to break in at the nation’s leading sports publications
== How to approach editors and build relationships
== How online sports sites have changed the way we cover sports in a 24/7 news environment
== The effect of increased restrictions in player/coach access
== How to cover sensitive issues including steroids, athlete misbehavior, and astronomical salaries
== The rapidly changing demands of today’s sports media consumers

By the end of class, we are guaranteed to have “two polished sports articles, the pitch letters to sell them, and the skills to get them published.” Again, that extra comma …

Considering the state of today’s online journalism, we endorse this idea to at least get some basic education into his the process legitimately works. What could it hurt?

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