Foul Ball

Labor strife shines spotlight on issues contributing to the downfall of Major League Baseball


Will Timmons

The recent MLB lockout has highlighted the majors problems around baseball that need to be changed in order to save the sport.

Nick Abel, Editor-in-Chief

Baseball is dying. While that may seem like an exaggeration, it is the sad truth. The Major League Baseball lockout openly exposed the wounds that have been causing the demise of America’s pastime for the last decade. Not only are the disparities between owners and players a major issue within the game, but there are a multitude of problems across all levels of play.

I hate to sound like an old curmudgeon talking about the “glory days”, but, in all honesty, our generation has negatively impacted the sport. In a world where everything travels so fast, the attention spans of individuals are not capable of keeping people interested in the sport. The last two World Series have had the two lowest television viewership statistics since it has been recorded. This is a culmination of a number of things. Baseball is by far the major sport with the slowest pace of play. No matter what minor rule changes MLB makes to try and change that, it will remain the slowest. People don’t want to sit down for three hours and watch a baseball game that feels unenergetic and drawn out.

The length of the season adds to the overwhelming feeling of boredom around the sport. People won’t sit down for three hours and watch a baseball game, but they will for a football game. That’s because the football season and schedule are special, almost sacred. While it takes over a similar amount of time on the calendar as the baseball season, it has a 17 game season versus a 162 game one. When there are so many games it makes it hard to follow the entire season and catch most of the games.

The growth of other sports like lacrosse has also contributed to the downfall of baseball. Younger kids are opting to play lacrosse over baseball. A study by the NCAA in 2018 found that lacrosse has been the fastest-growing sport in the last 15 years. And as lacrosse is a spring sport for a majority of high schools across the country, that directly lowers the number of kids who play baseball. Baseball is a sport that in order to understand and enjoy the nuances of the game you have to have played it. When I hear non-baseball players say they think it is boring I don’t fault them at all. Baseball is made up of subtleties most people don’t notice that make it special. From a good route on a ground ball in the outfield that allows for a cannon to the plate, to a perfect jump by a slow runner resulting in a steal, to the mental battle that takes place every pitch between the batter and the pitcher, it all culminates in a beautiful game, and a lot of people can’t see that.

I could go on and on about the issues in baseball that have led to its decline, don’t even get me started on the baseball writers, but what’s the solution? For MLB, it is shortening the season. Get people more invested and involved in every game. Statistics have made a big impact on the game and the “money ball” is great for creating championship-winning teams but it makes viewership less enjoyable. No one wants to see only home runs and strikeouts. MLB is experimenting with the independent Atlantic league with solutions like making the ball or the bases bigger and an automated ball-strike system. Keep working on these creative solutions. Find ways to improve the game because, without improvement, baseball may never recover.