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A good link to send your “baseball is dying” friends

Nov 19, 2012, 4:16 PM EDT

baseball grass

We talk an awful lot around here about how silly the whole “baseball is dying” argument is, how those who make it are totally ignorant of the economics of the game, the nature of baseball fandom and the like. Today Grant Brisbee has a great post up explaining that in greater detail:

But as a reminder, there is still a lot of chatter outside of the bubble about baseball needing help. Did you know the World Series ratings were low? The lowest they’ve ever been, apparently. I did a roundtable on HuffPost Live about how the World Series can better compete with the Super Bowl. I didn’t realize I was out of my bubble. It was weird out there. Asking why the World Series can’t compete with the Super Bowl is like asking why the World Series can’t compete with Fifty Shades of Grey. The correct answer to the question is “Wait, what?” I forgot that people still thought baseball was in trouble.

I think the best part of it is that framing device: the bubble thing.  That we, as baseball fans, live in a bubble. Two bubbles, really. Baseball fans are in a bubble that separates us from the outside world to some extent. A bubble which keeps outsiders from appreciating why baseball is not dying and not really appreciating the basis of baseball’s economic and popular strength.  Meanwhile, fans of one team tend to not know what’s going on in the fandom of other teams, at least not in great detail.

It’s a basic fragmentation/specialization/vertical integration thing. A phenomenon that in most markets shows a vibrancy and strength. In sports, however, it’s seen as a weakness for some reason. As if there is something wrong with baseball no longer being a point of great cultural consensus.

  1. Charles Gates - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    So Grant Brisbee is saying baseball doesn’t need more instant replay?

  2. billymc75 - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Start by getting rid of Selig

  3. innout10 - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    You’re having an off day today CC.. Instead of lame duck articles like this, write a recap of one of the world baseball classic qualifier games or even some updates from the winter ball leagues…

    • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      Why should I do that? I don’t care about those things.

      • pilonflats - Nov 19, 2012 at 6:56 PM

        he’s talking baseball, not politics, which is a good thing. thanks for passing on the info!

  4. mdpickles - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    I must be one of those baseball people who tend to care not only about Phillies fandom but every other team in baseball too. I would be happy for Indians fans if they can win a World Series. Thanks to Craig, I also care about Braves fandom too much.

  5. bowens3181 - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Let me preface this comment by saying that in no way do I think that baseball is dying. In fact it is probably as popular as its ever been. That being said, the reason I am somewhat worried about the game is that while its not dying, it is simply not growing at the same rate as the other three (four now if you count the emergence of soccer) major North American sports. The thing is to me this doesn’t seem like a difficult thing to fix. It just seems as thought baseball hasn’t adapted as well to the new technology-crazed age as the other sports have and is still clinging to the notion of “human nature” which, honestly, should have no place in fair professional sports.
    Basically what I’m trying to say is that while the concerns are definitely exaggerated, they are nonetheless real, but, while they are real concerns, they are easily fixable if those in charge decide to stop clinging to the past.

  6. paperlions - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Does anyone actually know anyone that would seriously opine that “baseball is dying?” I know of no such people.

    The only way to make that kind of argument is to be completely ignorant of the fact.

    I don’t think it is baseball fans that are in a bubble. Rather, it is the people that are divorced from baseball that have to stay in their bubble to come up with any argument that baseball is not doing well from economic or popularity perspectives….because just a glance at the landscape of baseball would indicate to anyone that baseball is doing quite well.

  7. Carl Hancock - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    The ratings were low because it was a boring ass series with two boring ass teams. Ratings did fine last year.

    • thomas2727 - Nov 19, 2012 at 6:16 PM

      A series tends to be boring when one team dominates the other. Funny how those great hitting American League teams in Arlington and Detroit got smoked by the Giants in 2010 and 2012.

  8. innout10 - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Well so far today you have written about a can of Mountain Dew, 2 minor leaguers that were signed by Cleveland, and a logo of Popeye holding asparagus…

    In this article you make the case that some people think baseball is dying, when in reality if you discuss the game on an international level (especially the WBC with emerging baseball nations involved), it would show how much the game is growing internationally. It’s not just about focusing on America, the game is starting to grow globally at a fast rate and the WBC can showcase the talent that some of these lesser known baseball nations have to offer.

    Why wouldn’t you write about international baseball as a follow up to an article in which you say how some people think the game is dying? Wouldn’t that show how the popularity of baseball is growing worldwide?

    • clydeserra - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:27 PM

      why don’t you write that article?

  9. cur68 - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Baseball in Canada is booming. All the attention from Anrthopolous’s bold moves, the lack of hockey, the relative weakness of the rest of the AL Beast and the presence of two of baseball’s best sluggers on the Beav has seen the bar chatter at my local turn distinctly to thoughts of the upcoming baseball season. The downside is that I have to answer a lot of damn fool questions from hockey fans with nothing better to do. Still, I have to say that people can’t wait for “the puck to drop on the new baseball season”. Have patience with them, folks: they’re learning a relatively new sport, but they are enthusiastic, love a good player fight, and know good glove work when they see it.

  10. innout10 - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Don’t get me wrong CC, I really enjoy your articles and think you do an outstanding job…. Just my thoughts about spotlighting international ball a little more… Constructive criticism.

  11. snowbirdgothic - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    “Baseball’s dying.”
    “I feel fine.”
    “No you don’t, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.”

  12. innout10 - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Clyde… I’m not getting paid to blog about baseball, I am simply a fan of the game and think I make a decent argument that baseball is growing internationally and that a popular blogger might want to talk that up a bit (especially when it’s related to this article) when he’s already touched on topics like a big Mountain Dew can or a minor league logo…

    If he doesn’t want to then it’s not a big deal… Just a thought. That’s what comments are for right bud?

    • clydeserra - Nov 19, 2012 at 7:15 PM

      the internet can handle you writing that. I think there is a couple of column inches left.

  13. jaydoubleyou22 - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    To balance out the comment from Innout, let me say CC that I enjoy your posts the least of any of the contributors on HBT because they are often at best tangentially related to baseball. Sometimes it’s a union plug, a discussion of your dating life or some other stupid political point that makes no sense.

    When you do actually write about a baseball article, usually it’s to claim that the author is ignorant for one reason or another. I still read the posts because sports news is a way for me to disconnect from more serious aspects of life, but when I see CC at the top of the post it’s a bit disappointing because i know theres a 50% chance that the content will be substance free.

    But hey, you’ve found your formula. Be controversial. Write stupid things. A lot of people won’t like you, but they will be compelled to read your stories and post comments (like me right now for instance).

    • thomas2727 - Nov 19, 2012 at 6:14 PM

      I like the different angle CC brings to many of his posts.

      There are more places than we can all count that have the latest MLB transactions and stats.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Nov 20, 2012 at 9:53 AM

      I love Craig’s posts, and enjoy the more tangential ones immensely. They spark lively discussion, and bring an interesting slant to the proceedings besides the drier, more newsy posts.

      Rock on, CC! \m/


  14. groundruledoublebourbon - Nov 19, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    “100000000.00% more people will watch football tonight, Monday, November 19, than will watch baseball. So long, baseball.”
    -every meathead football writer

  15. Carl Hancock - Nov 19, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    You forgot 2011. AL powerhouse offenses have lost WS last 3 years in a row.

  16. historiophiliac - Nov 19, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    I live in a college football state, and I would say that most people here just don’t think about baseball. They don’t think it’s dying; it’s simply not on their radar. (Although we are still producing great baseball players.) Most of the people I know here would likely admit that they largely watch the Super Bowl for the commercials & half-time show — as I say, they aren’t pro ball fans. It’s a social event. I don’t think viewership of the SB is any reflection of the superior popularity of pro-football. I think it’s the extras packed into the event and that it’s scheduled for a time of year when most people are stuck indoors and want an excuse to eat cheese.

  17. APBA Guy - Nov 19, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    Interesting take on bubbles, especially after the recent election. Never thought I was in a baseball bubble here in SF, since I’m surrounded by grinning Giants fans all the time. Maybe an Oakland bubble…

  18. crackersnap - Nov 20, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    Anybody who has studied the history of baseball will know that there is a very strong glue between baseball stats and popularity. Once newspaper editors learned that they could inexpensively fill up column inches with box scores, and feed a consumer market starving for information about players and teams and games far away, baseball exploded into our pastime.

    Over the past few decades, ESPN has grown into the antithesis of this “glue”. While catering to an ever shrinking attention span, ESPN chose to focus on the lowest hanging fruit and maximize viewership returns. They focused on those things of importance to their New England staff: Yankees and Red Sox with some smattering of Mets and Phillies. All the entire rest of the baseball universe was reduced to a couple of dozen names, which kind of rotated every 5 years or so. As ESPN grew and dominated the information exchange, the stories of distant players and teams evaporated from the awareness of the typical fan, and from the common dialog between us.

    So when two teams end up on the largest stage of the sport, the World Series, and those teams are not one of the ESPN money trees, most fans have no connection with the players and the stories. Why watch strangers? Just so we can suffer Joe Buck and Tim McCarver? The Giants have won 2 of the last 3 WS. Who can name their starting rotation? But God forbid we miss out on yet another Joba Chamberlain experiment, or yet another thing Bobby Valentine did NOT manage to do.

    Baseball is a long season, with long periods of time where it dominates the sports stage. If FOX and ESPN and MLB want to improve ratings on October, they need to do a better job of connecting us to the stories on ALL the teams beginning back in May and June. Only then can we, once again, follow along and trace these stories all the way to the final two, where we can watch with real interest.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Nov 20, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      You make some interesting points here. Your argument that ESPN has hyped the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry is valid, I think, though the 2004 season certainly added to the narrative.

      Did I use that word correctly, in HBT-approved context? I wonder. Fairly snarky bunch around here when it comes to narratives.

  19. Matt S - Nov 20, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    The genius of football is that, with the nationalized television package and the paucity of games on the schedule and fantasy, even casual NFL fans care about what happens in games in which their team isn’t playing. This simply isn’t the case with other sports. I love baseball but it’d take extraordinary circumstances for me to sit and watch an Indians-Royals game in August on television. A fan of either of those teams would probably say the same about watching my Giants.

    Baseball should be compared against itself, then, and by that measure it’s doing just fine.

    • stlouis1baseball - Nov 21, 2012 at 9:48 AM

      I wholeheartedly agree with the first couple sentences Matt. Valid points.
      This in mind…I must be in the minority when it comes to watching baseball.
      I could (and do) watch baseball regulary.
      I don’t care if it’s Seattle/Oakland, Padres/Dodgers, Twins/White Sox, Miami/Atlanta…it doesn’t matter.
      There is always something compelling for me to take away from the game. Be it pitching matchups, hitters, certain players I don’t normally get a chance to see play…always something to take away from the game. I don’t do this with Basketball (a little with college basketball maybe), or the NFL (a little with college football maybe). But when it comes to Sports (especially professional sports)…Baseball is it.
      I love the Colts and Pacers. But I don’t watch their peers play nearly as much as I do with Baseball’s.

  20. jaydoubleyou22 - Nov 21, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Sophie, if you like CC’s tangential posts immensely, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you probably also like US Weekly and TMZ, with a touch of MSNBC for good measure. Am I wrong?

  21. kizifree - Dec 5, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    I want to say “”Way to go.”” on this article. I really enjoyed all the useful information you included in your content. It’s engaging and solid data that is obviously researched and well-written. Thank you.

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