The State of Baseball


Photo courtesy of Baseball America.

-Lorenzo DeMalia

Baseball is dying. Those three words have been echoed for as long as I can remember as America’s pastime appears to be becoming a thing of the past. People have been writing the eulogy for baseball for as long as the game’s been played. As society becomes more fast paced people don’t have the time to watch 162 three hour games. Along with the spike in popularity in other professional sports such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Football League (NFL) it truly does seem like the sport of baseball is on the decline.
It’s true attendance at baseball games has been on the decline every season since 2012 (2020 not included). Major league baseball still outperforms both the NBA, and the NFL in ticket sales since they play far more games then both leagues. Money is not the problem with baseball, it’s the product being sold.
Ratings have been on the decline for baseball for quite some time, especially for the World Series. Baseball received a rude awakening when Game One of the 2020 world series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays was the least viewed World Series game of all time. If you’re baseball, how do you fix this, how do you change the direction of the sport and once again breathe life into your fanbase?
It’s actually quite simple.
Market Your Superstars
Mike Trout may be the greatest baseball player to ever take step on an MLB field, yet according to the New York Times only 43% of American’s know who he is. Comparatively 91% of Americans know who Lebron James is, this is a major problem. Baseball doesn’t know how to market its superstars and it might be one of the biggest reasons baseball is on the decline.
Baseball is a local game by design, it’s almost impossible to watch a Los Angeles Angels game if you’re a Boston Red Sox fan. Mainly because they play practically everyday for six months, so you’re going to watch your home team. Even still baseball is missing a major opportunity to shine light on it’s stars.
One way to better market your stars is to have every MLB team play each other every season. As the schedule is constituted, Mike Trout won’t visit 10 MLB stadiums this season, same goes for Fernado Tatis Jr. and Ronald Acuna Jr. All three of them have the ability to attract fans to the game purely based on their on field ability. Yet millions of fans won’t see them play a single inning of baseball. This is a major problem and is one of the reasons why the World Series ratings continue to decline. If you watch 162 New York Yankees games and they lose in the playoffs, it’s unlikely you’re going to care about two teams who you haven’t watched play all season.
Baseball being a local game is hurting its ability to grow and attract new fans. The first step to getting baseball on the upswing is to simply get more eyes on the players. It might seem like this is oversimplifying the problem and there are certainly other issues with the game. This is a place to start though, in the age of social media baseball should be aiming to build superstars with millions with followers. Afterall it should be relatively easy to go viral for a billion dollar organization with some of the best athletes in the world.
So do better, baseball.