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Data: Axios research; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

22 of 30 MLB stadiums will increase to 100% capacity by the end of the month, and all but five stadiums will fill up by the end of the Fourth of July weekend.

By the numbers: On Opening Day (April 1), only the Astros (50%) and Rangers (100%) filled their stadiums at least halfway.

  • Two months later, 11 teams are at full capacity, 10 more allow at least 50% and just one is still below 20% — and the Mariners are set to increase that next week.
  • Eager fans are ready to come out to the park, too: A record 63% of fans feel comfortable attending an outdoor sporting event, per a Morning Consult poll.

The big picture: This has all been made possible by our nation's rapid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine: 42% of the U.S. is fully vaccinated, up from just 17% on Opening Day.

  • Teams are doing a great job, too, as 20 clubs have reached the requisite 85% vaccination threshold to trigger relaxed safety protocols, and two more are set to join them next week.

The state of play: All but six teams have played at least 60 games so far, which last year would have meant the end of the ultra-condensed — and fan-less — regular season.

  • This year, we're fortunately treated to a full slate of 162 games, but just for fun, let's check in on what the playoffs would look like if the season ended today.
  • AL playoff picture: Rays (39-24); White Sox (37-24); A's (37-26); Red Sox (37-25, WC1); Astros (35-26, WC2)
  • NL playoff picture: Mets (30-24); Cubs (35-27); Giants (38-23); Dodgers (36-25, WC1); Padres (37-27, WC2)

The bottom line: With nearly five more months of baseball to go and stadiums planning full-capacity crowds nationwide, it's going to be a good summer for America's pastime.

Humans aren't the only ones returning to the ballpark: Tampa's Ray Tank returned to Tropicana Field's outfield Wednesday, writes Axios Tampa Bay's Selene San Felice.

Go deeper

The rays are returning to Tropicana Field's outfield tank

The Rays Touch Tank at Tropicana Field in 2019. Photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Here's yet another sign that Tampa Bay is rounding the bases to a new beginning.

What's happening: The Ray Tank returns to Tropicana Field's outfield Wednesday, with the touch experience coming back on June 22.

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.