Let me begin by saying I don’t hate baseball, after reading this you may think I do but it’s simply not the truth. I enjoy the game and love going to games in person; there’s just something special about being at a baseball game. In fact, I go to a different stadium every year with my family in a quest to visit all 30 MLB parks.
However, there are plenty of factors about Major League Baseball that I do not like and it continues to crush the sport’s popularity. Most of them begin and end with Commissioner Bud Selig, who continues to push ideas and rules that make absolutely no sense. For instance, his idea of having the winner of the All-Star Game awarded home field advantage in the World Series is the worst idea in the history of sports and it’s not even be debatable. Why is it so hard to give home field advantage to the team with the best record, like every other sport?
The expansion of the Wild Card for the playoffs is also a bad idea. I’m all for giving more teams a chance at the playoffs but a one game “playoff” series doesn’t really equate to making the playoffs. Playing one game in order to make it to a round where you then play five games is a complete sham to the idea of being in the “playoffs.”
And please don’t get me started on how moronic it is to have the higher seeded teams start on the road the Divisional Series for the playoffs and the Wild Card team hosting the top seed in each league. The ridiculousness of this rule is only rivaled by the All-Star rule.
All of these areas need major tweaking but I’m not going to tell you that everything is Selig’s fault because he’s not the only problem with baseball. The game also continues to think too much of itself. Having a 162 game schedule in this day and age is foolish. I understand why the games were expanded back in the day but times have surely changed. This isn’ the 1960′s, 70′s or 80′s anymore, there are plenty of other things to hold our interests now.
Baseball is also not the only thing on television anymore and people have plenty of other options to watch on TV. There are hundreds of other channels at our disposal and our attention spans have shrunk. The pace of baseball is not fast enough for the majority of our society who DVR shows so they don’t have to watch the commercials. People don’t have the three hours it takes to sit and watch baseball games anymore, not when they can watch a TV show that is done in 30 minutes instead.
There are just too many options for us to watch on TV and since going to the games has become too expensive, one would think the ratings for baseball on television would increase. It just hasn’t happened; Awful Announcing reported that baseball’s television ratings have steadily declined since 2005.
So what can baseball do to gain our attention back? Let’s begin with cutting the number of games and the time when the season begins and ends. It’s just too cold to be starting baseball on the east coast in early April and playing through the month of September makes little sense since the NFL is king at that time. MLB should play a 132 game season from mid-April through Labor Day weekend in September, this way baseball keeps its interest higher with fewer games and ends just when it should. MLB can’t compete with the football and trying to do so in September is just foolish.
By reducing the number of games it makes them more meaningful and puts an added emphasis on playoff races in August, when not much else is going on in the sporting world. It would make the time from July 4th through Labor Day a more exciting time for baseball fans! It would also be a great idea for baseball purists everywhere who say that players are only getting into the Hall Of Fame because they compiled numbers over a ton of games. This would help their argument in the long run.
Baseball is a great game but times have changed and MLB needs to adapt. If baseball wants to thrive again, it would be well advised to make the changes necessary to stay relevant.
you can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi