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The Globe and Mail

MacLeod: Where have all the people gone, MLB is wondering

Cleveland has drawn less than 10,000 fans for some of its games in September this year.

Tony Dejak/Associated Press

The Globe's Robert MacLeod curates the best of sports on the web Monday to Friday

It should be the best of times for Major League Baseball with exciting playoff races unfolding on several fronts as the regular season winds down to a precious few games.

But for several teams who are embroiled in engaging battles for postseason positioning, the indifference by the fans that apparently couldn't care less continues to be a surprising development.

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The Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays are both in the thick of the playoff hunt in the American League along with the Oakland A's, who are on the verge of clinching the title in the West.

You wouldn't know it by the paltry fan support all these teams have been receiving of late.

While the A's are on track for their second consecutive division title and are probably playing their best baseball of the season, their attendance numbers have actually dropped in the month of September.

Lew Wolff, the owner of the A's, candidly calls the dwindling baseball attendance "depressing" writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

"There is something wrong here," Wolff is quoted as saying. "You would think that with our lead, people would want to come out, count down the magic numbers, and all that stuff.

"Even if you're not a loyal fan, you would think this time of year, where the teams are in the standings, and where every game means something, people would come out."

Oakland hosted the Los Angeles Angels at Coliseum Wednesday night where the Angels squeezed out a 5-4 win in extras, but only 20,260 fans were on hand to witness the event.

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To add insult to injury, a sewage spill at Coliseum leached into the Oakland dugout during Tuesday's game that renewed calls for the team to either leave or modernize its aging facility.

The A's are not the only team beset with attendance problems.

At Tropicana Field in Tampa, the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Texas Rangers 4-3 in what Ken Rosenthal of described as a "pennant-race classic."

But just 14,827 fans bothered to show up to witness the Rays 4-3 win in 12 innings that allowed Tampa to seize the first wild card position in the A.L.

That was actually an increase over the 10,786 who bothered to turn out for Tuesday's game.

The Indians fell 7-2 to the Kansas City Royals in K.C. as Cleveland missed their second chance in three days to move into the A.L.'s second wild card spot writes Paul Hoynes in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

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The Indians must be wondering what kind of a reception they will receive when they return home tonight to contest the Houston Astros.

In Cleveland's last home stand last week against the Royals they averaged just 11,464 fans at Progressive Field.

In the wild card traffic jam that continues to play out in the A.L. East, manager Joe Girardi "tossed the blueprint" in the trash by summoning retiring reliever Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning in the comeback win by the New York Yankees writes George King A King III in the New York Post

In Oakland, although they have yet to secure a spot in the postseason playoff tickets still went on sale this week for the low-payroll Athletics who refuse to crumble writes Monte Poole in the San Jose Mercury News.

In the National League, for the third consecutive game the Pittsburgh Pirates offence looked lost writes Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Pirates surrendered a one-run lead in the ninth as the San Diego Padres came back for a 3-2 lead to put another crimp in Pittsburgh's playoff hopes.

Raising eyebrows

Interesting developments in Cleveland where the 0-2 Browns traded young running back Trent Richardson to the Baltimore Colts.

Michael David Smith writes on that Cleveland CEO David Banner is not giving up on the season by trading a player who might be the Browns best young talents.

In the opinion of Jeffri Cjhadiha writing for the Browns were not going anywhere with Richardson as their featured runner.

Ken Norton remembered

Ken Norton, who fought during what was probably the best heavyweight era in the history of boxing in the 1970s, has died at the age of 70.

The tributes are pouring in including a tweet from George Foreman, who described Norton as the "fairest" of them all.

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