Being unemployed is really not that great, but it has given me ample time to watch a little too much ESPN. Every morning I follow the same routine: wake up, watch First Take, watch His and Hers, and then in the afternoon, catch SportsNation. In between, I’m reading about sports online, catching up on baseball games, and napping.
I’ve made a lot of observations about these talk shows, but one seems to be troubling: they all think baseball is dying.
No, it’s not. First of all, this is a baseball blog, so you should all know by now that I will defend the sport of baseball until the day I die. It’s also my favorite sport.Get ready for a rant because a rant is what you are going to get…
Here is where I take issue with these talk show pundits saying the sport of baseball is dying. They say that viewership is down, which it is, but only on national TV. People, myself included, mostly watch games on local channels or MLB TV. Baseball is continuing to bring in massive local TV deals, even for the smaller market teams. For example, the Dodgers’ signed a 25 year TV deal worth $8.35 BILLION dollars. The smaller-market Diamondbacks signed a 20-year TV deal worth $1.5 BILLION. These are just two examples, but as you can tell, baseball isn’t going anywhere in terms of popularity with local markets. In fact, Fox Sports Arizona, the station that airs D-Backs games, pulls in the highest viewership ratings in the Phoenix area during games, beating out major networks who run programming during the same time slots.
Another thing they say is that young people don’t watch baseball as much anymore. Well, from personal experience I can tell you I have come up with differing viewpoints than that. So many people my age are watching baseball! I can pick out any young adult and ask them how their team is doing and they can give me a good answer. I see everyday how many younger people are blogging about baseball, tweeting about baseball, and supporting local baseball teams. Do you know how many people have MLB’s app on their phone? Just shut your faces, okay?
But what makes me more upset than anything else is that the very people who are saying baseball is dying are the ones who do these talk shows and NEVER talk about baseball! Every morning they talk about basketball and football, when in fact, neither is in season. They are beating the same football and basketball stories into the ground day in and day out. They never seem to talk about baseball unless it is a quick five minutes about the home run derby or a quip about Alex Rodrigues doing something they don’t think he deserves to be doing. They offer critiques about players when they admit that they don’t even LIKE baseball. Marcellus Wiley of SportsNation and Stephen A. Smith on First Take have both admitted to not liking baseball, yet seem to always offer opinions about “negative” aspects of the game. I can’t take you seriously if you preface your opinion with “I don’t even like watching baseball”. Not only that, but these shows, SportsNation in particular, brush off baseball like a joke, going so far as to give the audience a warning that they are going to talk about “boring” baseball.
Why do these programs not even bother to talk about baseball, especially since ESPN actually does a really good job of broadcasting games? They show three, sometimes four, games a week. Their Baseball Tonight crew is fantastic, especially the Seam Head shows they do once a week. However, Baseball Tonight is only on during the season, whereas ESPN chooses to air NFL Insider and NFL Live year round. How can you expect baseball to grow in popularity if you only air baseball shows during the season? I get that football is the most popular sport in America, but stop saying baseball is dying when you are not doing anything to promote it during the off-season. SportsCenter also heavily focuses on sports other than baseball, even during the season. The only time they seem to place a heavy emphasis on the games is later at night. Not cool, y’all.
I guess what I am trying to say is that 1) baseball isn’t dying, and 2) don’t say baseball is dying when you are doing nothing to promote the sport. Baseball is a $9 BILLION/year industry, so to say it’s dying is terribly naive and misinformed. Baseball is expanding it’s reach far beyond the states, and there have even been whispers about creating more expansion teams. You can’t say baseball is dying just because you don’t watch it, or because you don’t follow it. ESPN, you need to have your talk show pundits talk about baseball. You have to, or people are going to assume the myth of baseball dying is correct. Give baseball the same respect and airtime you give the NFL, or at least, the same airtime you give LeBron James.