I used to pride myself on being able to name AT LEAST five players on every major league team. Now, I can barely name five guys on my favorite team. So what happened?
Some theories– first, the steroid era. For me, it isn’t so much that players juiced, but in my conspiracy theory, I think owners and the commish were well aware of it. But they turned a blind eye. I think they may have even encouraged it. Why not? After the strike in ’94, fans were turned off.
The massive home runs brought people back in, made them come to the park and watch on TV. The spike in attendance and ratings were good for the game. BUT, when steroids became taboo in the public perception, Bud Selig began waving an iron fist…all of a sudden.
Heroes were demonized, players were suspended, and we had congressional hearings that were a joke.
Another big issue also happens to be one of baseball’s greatest qualities. Unlike the other major sports, there is a timeless aspect to the game. There is no clock. The game ends when the final out is recorded. But with it, in this day and age, society lacks an attention span. The games truly do also seem to last longer than they did in years past. I even find myself getting a bit restless if we’re not done with the 5th inning in two hours.
MLB implemented rules to speed things up last season. For the first time since 2011, the average game lasted under three hours. Still, that’s a long time with very little action taking place. I’ll give it to baseball at the ballpark, as they’ve strongly efforted to keep things moving. There is a lot more entertainment between innings to keep the fans engaged. On TV however, there are just commercials…nothing to help pace things along.
There is a huge problem in the marketing department for Major League Baseball. Everyone knows who Lebron and Tom Brady are. I bet if I polled 100 random people, 98 wouldn’t be able to tell me who was second in the voting for MVP awards last season.
I’m guessing a number close to that wouldn’t be able to recall the past three World Series losers.
One of my friends suggests that we have not been acquainted with all the teams around baseball. He says television stations, specifically ESPN show Yankees-Red Sox games ALL THE TIME, especially during the early-to-mid-2000s. He says we never get a chance to see a Brewers-Pirates game, never get the opportunity to be introduced to other quality teams, other up and coming stars.
Another friend says that with the rising disintegration of the family unit, we lack the games of catch, the watching of the sport, the generational teaching of how to keep score.
It’s easier for our nation’s youth to grab a basketball and shoot hoops alone than it is to find a willing partner to play catch with.
Well, I haven’t covered all the bases (insert intended rim shot here). I miss loving the game as I once did. I want it to be great again. Sadly, I just don’t know if baseball has what it takes to reclaim the title of America’s National Pastime. What do you think?