John From Albany - Nail in the Baseball Coffin?


According to a 2017 MarketWatch article: “Baseball has the oldest viewers of the top major sports, with 50% of its audience 55 or older (up from 41% a decade ago), according to Nielsen ratings. The average age of baseball viewers is 53, compared with 47 for the NFL and 37 for the NBA, according to the ratings. And fewer young people are playing the sport: The number of people between the ages of 7 and 17 playing baseball in the U.S. decreased by 41% from 9 million in 2002 to 5.3 million in 2013.”

Also, the attendance trend in baseball is down. Eric Fisher of Sportsbusiness.com reported that Major League Baseball had its worst attendance in sixteen years in 2019. Total attendance was 68.49 million, which is down 1.7% from 2018 and represents the sixth decline in attendance in the last seven seasons.

But I don’t need Mets Police, Market Watch and Sports Business to tell me that the Baseball fan base is shrinking, getting older, and that we are losing the kids.  Kids under 20 tell me every day that the sport is boring.  One 20 something I know prefers soccer.  Soccer?  How is that less boring?  He hates it when I tell him that (which of course makes me tell him that more). 

However, those under 20 that I know and I agree on one thing.  Minor league baseball games are great.

The games are shorter.  It is rare they run over 3 hours and there are usually more stolen bases and action during the game. Plus, they have all those minor league things between innings to keep people interested like hot dog bicycle races, catching beach balls with pizza boxes, etc.

And because the concessions are reasonable, Dad doesn’t balk handing out a $20 for the kids to get something to eat, just bring me back a pretzel…and the change! (That transaction would have cost way more at the MLB park).

This makes MLB’s never-ending drive to eliminate minor leagues and reduce the MLB draft more puzzling. 

Now some MLB teams are looking to mitigate COVID-19 losses by not paying Minor League players at all after 6/1. 

Minor League players should use the non-payments to sue for breach of contract and ask for free agency.

That will probably lead to the rich teams (i.e. Yankees, not the Mets) to gobble up all the best prospects.

A lot of people fondly reflect on the days when the Yankees and Dodgers were in the World Series every year.  Some say that was the reason why the sport was so popular. 

Maybe the return to those days will save baseball.

Or maybe it will be another nail in the coffin of the sport we call Major League Baseball. 


Tom Brennan said...

What came to me was to offer fans in college and high school deep discounts on tickets and concessions. If the fan base keeps shrinking, they’ll have to get creative.

Reese Kaplan said...

It is a slower paced game than many other sports (except, of course, golf). However, the game has done a poor job marketing itself compared to football and basketball. Things need to change.

Dallas said...

The players and owners are so myopic. They better get their shit together and get in 100+ games or baseball will likely enter a death spiral. Look at what the strike did to the game. It took a McGwire/Sosa homerun chase to bring it back. Not paying the minor leaguers? What does this amount to like 5 million bucks? Thats chump change to these owners. If just one of those players quits and would have been an above average ball players they lose a lot more than that.

Mack Ade said...

Our local high school baseball teams have had a hard time fielding a full team for years due to the youth turning away from this game.

Dallas, I don't see any way back this year.

Hobie said...

To I cup of 120+K "power bats" add a cup of 5 IP "power arms" and at least 1 gal of shirt tug - glove adjustment - dirt shuffling procrastinations; sprinkle 2 1/2 minute commercial breaks between each 1/2 inning. LOOGY/ROOGY to taste. Dollop with a dopey mascot.
Inflate scorecard to rival an issue of Cosmopolitan and charge extra for a pencil.

Youngsta's will love it.

Mack's Mets © 2012