There was a time when baseball was America’s sport. However, these days the NFL is out on its own. Meanwhile, basketball maintains a massive viewership at home and abroad. But other sports are on the rise and these are affecting baseball’s ratings too.
MLS soccer is growing in popularity largely because of the U.S. Hispanic population. Meanwhile, the UFC continues to blossom as a brand. This is much more attractive to youngsters than watching boring baseball unfold (via A.P. News). It’s a mess for MLB to deal with.
Make no mistake, baseball has one of the shadiest histories in all of U.S. sports. First of all, there were gambling scandals with the likes of the Chicago Black Sox. That’s also why Pete Rose will never make the Hall of Fame. Then along came the Steroid Era and the BALCO Report.
After this, the sport entered the sign-stealing era. In recent years, there was opioid abuse and other problems. Meanwhile, the number of lockouts and player/owner feuds continues to rise. MLB created a giant mess for itself and continues to make problems for itself (via The Athletic).
Another reason why MLB is in a giant mess is because of Rob Manfred. He’s a disaster overall because he is the owners’ stooge. The commissioner retains his position because he enables the franchises’ overlords to suck the soul out of baseball (via SBNation).
Baseball won’t change until Manfred leaves his post. That’s because he has no desire to stage a coup against the owners and do his job properly. The sport seriously declined under his watch and his legacy will be appalling. But the owners don’t care as long as he does what they tell him.
Let’s be for real, broadcasters want the Yankees to win the World Series, not the Rays. Meanwhile, two of MLB’s biggest names, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout play for a team that never even makes the playoffs. This is also damaging to the league’s brand (via Sporting News).
Even for non-football or basketball fans, it’s easy to turn on a game and follow what’s happening. Sure, the broadcasters will use jargon that they might not understand. But the concept is relatively simple. However, baseball is less accessible than its rivals.
That’s because there are such long periods where nothing is happening. Now with the rise of analytics, it’s even worse because it’s so boring. Baseball doesn’t have casual fans because it’s too much of a time investment. However, it’s useful to watch it as a sleeping aid (via Sportscasting).
The introduction of a pitch clock may steer this in the right direction. But it’s wild that in 100 years of baseball, MLB hasn’t been unable to speed up the game. Every game in the 2020 postseason lasted for over three hours. That’s a ridiculous amount of time for anybody to invest in.
Younger fans don’t have the attention span to watch anything longer than a TikTok video. How do baseball’s mandarins expect somebody to sit around for the length of a Lord of the Rings movie? It’s also counterproductive because many games go past children’s bedtimes (via The Ringer).
The MLB’s luxury tax came into focus again during the giant mess that is the 2022 lockout. In short, this is effectively a salary cap because it penalizes teams if their player contracts exceed the tax line. Only three teams have violated the balance tax more than twice in their history.
This means it’s an effective deterrent against overspending. But the problem is that it also suppresses player salary spend. The owners made this a major issue during lockout negotiations even though it shouldn’t be an issue. However, the players recognized this and refused to play ball (via CBS Sports).
Nobody cares about college baseball and this is a big problem for MLB. Of course, it’s not fair to blame it on the pro game but it impacts it. There are a lot of problems with exploitation in college football and basketball. But their games continue to captivate massive audiences.
March Madness is one of the most exciting sports occasions of the year. Meanwhile, many people are more invested in their local college team than NFL franchises. Baseball and the MLB draft fail to capture the interest of the nation and this is a big problem (via A.S.).
There have been nine lockouts and strikes in MLB history. This is a giant mess because none of the other major leagues have experienced anything like this. Issues continue to arise between players and owners for a variety of reasons. Meanwhile, the owners try to turn the fans against their teams.
One of the central issues in 2021 was free agency because owners didn’t want to lose control of their stars’ destinies. The worst strike came in 1994 when MLB canceled the playoffs. This related to the salary cap and was a giant mess until 1995 (via NBC Sports).
Something that MLB doesn’t appreciate is the changing demographics in U.S. sports. Of course, it’s still popular but the big issue is that it retains the oldest fanbase amongst the Major Leagues. They don’t help themselves by their strict control of player behavior.
Athletes don’t show passion because they receive punishments. This makes the games less exciting and interesting for younger fans. Meanwhile, the slow pace of the sport is a massive issue. It’s incompatible with the way young people act and think (via Front Office Sports).
37% of American viewers cite football as their favorite sport. Meanwhile, just nine percent say the same about baseball. It’s not just because of baseball’s scandals either. Football is no stranger to controversies with ongoing concussion lawsuits and sexual assault cases.
However, fans overlook the dark side of the NFL and remain invested. The same isn’t true of MLB because they are turning off their TV sets. There are too many other things to watch and not enough highlight moments. There’s another part of why MLB is in a giant mess (via WSN).
There were fears that there might not be a 2022 baseball season because of the lockout. After the old collective bargaining agreement expired, the owners failed to renew. Then they instigated a lockout in a blatant bid to take advantage of their players.
MLB stars wanted more control over free agency. They were also unimpressed with attempts to renegotiate the balance tax. Finally, they sorted their problems after missing a week of the season. It remains to be seen how long their uneasy truce lasts (via Vox).
Baseball failed to take advantage of an opportunity during the global health crisis. When other sports leagues crashed to a halt, there was a chance for MLB to exploit. NBA and NHL suspended their seasons. Meanwhile, even March Madness and the Kentucky Derby were called off.
MLB could have led the way and inspired a nation crying out for sports entertainment. The UFC recognized the demand and pushed forward with brazen abandon. As an outdoor sport with limited player contact, baseball could have done so but they wasted this shot (via MSN).
MLB players are experts at finding new and innovative ways to cheat. In 2021, the ‘Sticky Stuff’ scandal rose its head. In short, this involves applying foreign substances to doctor baseballs. This helps pitchers achieve more spin when they throw the ball.
Of course, this is unethical and impossible to regulate fairly. That’s why MLB completely outlawed the practice and brought in strict penalties. Players will receive ejections and suspension if they break the rules. It’s so typical of baseball (via ESPN).
MLB has received a lot of pressure to pay Minor League affiliates more money. The owners are reciprocal but there is a notable catch. They want to reduce the number of minor leaguers so that it balances out. This is an incredibly shortsighted idea (via Japan Times).
They restructured the Minor League in 2020 and this didn’t ruin the sport. But any more attempts to remove teams will be costly. First off, it reduces the opportunities for players to prove themselves. Meanwhile, it takes away local teams and cuts off more fans from baseball.
The lack of diversity in baseball has improved in recent years. There are significantly more Latin American and Asian players in MLB than ever before. However, there remains a deficit in terms of ownership and broadcasting. These important roles are still held by older white men (via Dallas Morning News).
Diversity is important because it would help bring a new perspective to the sport. Meanwhile, a mixture of broadcasters may attract different markets. It’s incredibly shortsighted to keep things the same way. That’s another part of MLB’s giant mess.
The Astros’ sign-stealing scandal continues to hang over MLB like a noxious gas of a shadow. It’s still ridiculous that the league failed to strip Houston of their titles after blatant cheating. Meanwhile, they scapegoated the Astros’ GM and head coach when the players were responsible (via N.Y. Times).
Allegedly, it was an open secret that the Astros were sign-stealing. The aftermath of this situation had serious ramifications for MLB. It was a giant mess because it should never have been allowed to happen. Also, even Houston fans lost faith because their team represented the city so poorly.
Many people believe that defensive shifts are a key reason why games are less exciting. MLB is finally doing something about this. From 2023, they’ll crack down on defensive shifts because they want to make the game more entertaining.
This isn’t before time because the analytics era has threatened to turn fans away. It’s incredibly boring for T.V. viewers to watch because a base hit becomes a routine ground out. Baseball is a giant mess but finally, they’re doing something about this.
The simple fact of the matter is that MLB franchise owners don’t care about baseball. They just want to maximize their profits and that makes baseball one of the least inspiring sports to watch. It’s a giant mess but one that they have made for themselves.
Meanwhile, there’s no sign that they want to change anything. Not when the commissioner is their stooge and the players can’t do much about it. However, it’s a short-term vision because the ratings and revenues will continue to fall. But they’ll be dead by then and won’t care (via L.A. Times).
Manfred is one of the worst commissioners in the history of sports. His weakness is the primary reason why baseball is in a giant mess. There is no hope of anything improving soon until he leaves the sport behind; assuming that the MLB survives him.
This is a man who once referred to the World Series as a piece of metal. He spits in the faces of baseball fans over and over again. Manfred couldn’t motivate a dog to take a dump in a park never mind run MLB properly. Hopefully one day he’ll read the room and walk away (via ESPN).