I think we can all agree that America’s pastime, baseball, is quickly losing its allure. Fifteen years ago, baseball was the most popular sport in this country, and it wasn’t even close. Now, baseball is lucky to come in third. With the Mets taking on the Royals, this Sunday, baseball will officially be back.
The NFL and NBA have clearly passed the MLB. I wish this wasn’t the case, but, the numbers can’t be denied any longer. The NBA finals averaged 18.9 million viewers per game, while the World Series only attracted 14.7 million viewers per game. The NFL will get around 70 million viewers during the Super Bowl while the NHL will average seven million per game in the Stanley Cup final.
Enough about the numbers, baseball doesn’t have the same attraction anymore. The games are too long and there is way too much dead time in between pitches; there are way too many games and way too many pitching changes. The review system is adding about four minutes to each game and baseball should be worrying about shortening games, not elongating them. Baseball has a plethora of problems.
Some Boston Red Sox and New York Yankee games take about four and a half hours; this is way too long for a regular season game. Baseball asks too much from its fans. To ask someone to watch 162 games and spend three hours doing so, is simply unreasonable. Adding a pitch “shot clock” can only help the sport.
The nerds have helped teams get more competitive. The teams that cannot afford to spend with the big clubs, rely on the nerds, and in their defense, it has worked. But, let’s not mistake this; the nerds have helped ruin baseball. Billy Bean and the “Money Ball” approach have helped so many teams and general managers. This can’t be disputed. “A walk is as good as a hit.”, “Average doesn’t matter, on-base-percentage does”, “pitching wins don’t matter, ERA does.”
All those philosophies have some merit, some I actually agree with. Who wants to watch a three hour game where everyone gets walked and no runs are scored? Pitching is dominating and it is driving people away from the sport. The nerds are incredibly useful and every team has them and as well they should, but, those philosophies are helping kill the sport.
The “Money-Ball” crew isn’t the only problem, however. Rivalries are dying left and right. The Red Sox and Yankees are barely rivals at this point. Occasionally a player will get drilled and then nothing happens, occasionally a dirty slide will happen and nothing will happen. The closest thing to a rivalry at this point is Cubs vs. Cardinals. Rivalries help grow a sport and baseball is losing them by the minute.
I’ve mentioned philosophy, runs, and culture as issues for baseball, but, the main issue is the laissez-faire attitude. When a season has 162 games, managers tend to not focus on any single game, because the long-term success is more important. It is tough to blame them. Some teams don’t get into gear until July,that means, some teams are taking 40 games and flushing them down the toilet. Baseball can change the rules, length of games, and pitching styles but until the sport changes the lazy culture, the sport will continue to free fall.
With all this being said, enjoy Opening Day.