Major League Baseball attendance is down for the third year straight.Part of the problem is that the sport’s best products – playoff games – are broken for too many fans.
The league has made some strides in recent years to address the issue – they promise earlier start times and fewer off days in 2010 – but there are still a handful of changes that could drastically improve the postseason experience for fans…and maybe even save the business that is MLB itself.
We sympathize with the purists who insist that National League rules provide more managerial strategy and late-inning intrigue, but guess what? No one pays to watch managers manage. Pitchers haven't taken hitting seriously for 40 years and we're tired of watching rallies fizzle when an automatic out comes to the plate. What the NL does in the regular season is their business, but on the big stage, let real hitters do the hitting.
Home field advantage is about more than just friendly fans and sleeping in your own bed at night. Last ups are vitally important, especially in a playoff game. Too important to be left up to a late-inning relief pitcher throwing half speed in an exhibition game in July. Give home field advantage in the World Series to the team that earns it with the best regular season record--just like every other sports league in existence.
Day games. Remember those? MLB deserves credit for bumping up start times in recent years, so that East Coast kids (and their parents) aren't in bed by the fourth inning, but it's outrageous that the World Series still hasn't seen a true day game in 23 years. Worried about competing against football? Guess what? You'll be doing that in primetime, too. Baseball should be played in the sun.
Joe Buck and Tim McCarver have been the lead broadcasting team on Fox since 1996. Buck calls most sporting events as if he would rather being taking a nap somewhere else and has openly confessed that this is often the case. McCarver over-explains baseball's minutiae with the air of a slightly dotty maths professor. In all that time together, can anyone recall a single memorable utterance ever escaping their lips? Will their words every be associated with the great moments of baseball history? Unlikely. Baseball's big stage need new blood. Which leads us to ...
Obviously, the network that has owned baseball's TV rights since 1996 is the main culprit in most of these problems. They monkeyed with the All-Star game (which they also broadcast), they set the postseason schedule (so that it won't interfere with their first love, football), and they've stuck with the Buck-McCarver team long past their prime. (If they ever had one.) Fox's half-hearted regular season coverage has done nothing to boost interest in the game and their idiotic dancing robots, screaming baseballs, and product placement of Fox TV stars need to be shown the door.
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