Jan 2, 2014, 3:32 PM EDT
As baseball news is at its offseason nadir, it’s time to take note of something everyone is noticing but no one is willing to discuss openly: professional football, which used to be America’s most popular sport, no longer has a hold on the nation’s consciousness.
Over the years, you have heard myriad explanations for football’s declining popularity. High-definition television making people less likely to go to stadiums. The increasing sophistication of video game consoles creating a more appealing form of home entertainment. People’s increasing love of Sunday marathons of “Top Gear” on BBC America. All are valid explanations. But they have not seemed to detract from America’s new favorite pastime: baseball.
Look no further than this past season’s playoffs. Sellouts in Boston, St. Louis, Detroit, Los Angeles. Everyone from the cop on the corner to the man on the street enjoyed the baseball playoffs and Fall Classic. It really brought our nation together.
But the NFL? Costs are skyrocketing, pricing out the common fan. Playoff teams struggle to sell tickets. When the league should be celebrating its moment in the spotlight it finds itself enmeshed in controversy. A mere five years ago no one would have predicted that baseball would trump football in a popularity (non)contest like it does now. But they probably should have.
And to be clear: football’s declining allure has nothing to do with costs, the prevalence of social issues in the discourse or even the natural ebb and flow of popular entertainment. It has to do with the sport itself. There’s too broad a canvass on which to paint needed progressive change in football. Literally. There’s too much space.
Including end zones, a football field is 120 yards long and 53 yards wide, giving it a playing-surface area of 8,242,560 square inches. Eight million-plus square inches is far too much space for its participants to cover, both literally and thematically. It’s strategic schemes are simultaneously far too broad and far too intricate, and thus there is far too much required of the fan to accommodate the sport’s advancements.
Baseball, on the other hand, has a relevant playing surface area of a mere 216 square inches. That’s the area of home plate. Yes, baseball fields are about the same overall size as football fields, but the field does not become relevant until someone hits one of the pitches thrown to home plate. The sport hinges on what takes place near those 216 square inches. There are only so many things an athlete can do when confined to such tight parameters. There are only four things, really: throw a strike or a ball and swing the bat or don’t. Fans can handle something as simple as that. The entire game’s perfection is confined to a reasonable area, clearly seen by the home viewer and the fan in the overflowing stands alike. Granted, this is an oversimplification of a long-lived sport like football, but it is a clear explanation for why football’s best days are behind it.
Is football dying? The playoff game ticket sales, the sport’s own natural evolutionary limitations and the history of similar sports say yes. It’s just a matter of how quickly. The rate of football’s demise can easily turn into something of a mathematical argument based on presumption and perspective (two things that do not mix well with numbers). The National Football League came about in 1920. The sport’s golden age – its teenage years, if you will – was the 1960s through, oh, let’s call it early 2013. So perhaps football hasn’t even reached its midlife crisis yet. And yes, football’s TV ratings for the upcoming playoffs may show the sport to be back in full swing.
Bt in the big scheme of things, fewer people are going to playoff games. Meanwhile, the Spring Training is a little less than a month and a half away, and new records for attendance will probably be set.
Evolution at work.
Apr 22, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT
CSNNewEngland.com’s Sean McAdam reports that outfielder Shane Victorino may be activated from the disabled list Wednesday if he makes it through his third minor league rehab game Tuesday night at Triple-A Pawtucket without experiencing any issues.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:01 PM EDT
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright landed awkwardly while trying to chase down a high-chopper off the bat of Chris Young in the seventh inning Tuesday at Citi Field and left the game with a hyperextended right knee.
Apr 22, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT
Angels fan Tim Sherrill, a resident of Ponoma, California and a member of the United States Air Force, caught Albert Pujols’ 500th career home run on Tuesday night in the nation’s capital …
Apr 22, 2014, 8:53 PM EDT
Albert Pujols hit a three-run shot to left field off Nationals starter Taylor Jordan in the top of the first inning and then crushed a two-run bomb to deep left-center off Jordan in the top of the fifth for the 499th and 500th home runs of his 14-year major league career on Tuesday night in Washington, D.C.
Apr 22, 2014, 8:39 PM EDT
Manny Machado will soon be one phone call away from rejoining the Orioles’ active major league roster. According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the young third baseman has been cleared to embark on a minor league rehab assignment this Friday with the High-A Frederick Keys.
Apr 22, 2014, 7:51 PM EDT
Watch as Albert Pujols hits his 499th career home run Tuesday off Nationals starter Taylor Jordan …
Apr 22, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT
Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports that Rays left-hander Matt Moore underwent Tommy John reconstructive surgery, as scheduled, Tuesday on his pitching elbow. The procedure was conducted by Dr. James Andrews and deemed a success.
Apr 22, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT
Ivan Nova was diagnosed Sunday with a partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and is expected to undergo season-ending Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. That leaves a big gap in the Yankees’ starting rotation — one that will be filled, at least initially, by left-hander Vidal Nuno.
Apr 22, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Or when Napoli gets out of the sleep room so that I can have a turn. Jeez, what’s up with that guy?
Apr 22, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT
Some folks would say never enough. I’d agree.
Apr 22, 2014, 4:18 PM EDT
Ivan Nova went for a second opinion after being diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and another doctor agreed with the initial verdict, recommending that the Yankees right-hander undergo season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery.
Apr 22, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
MLB has handed out suspensions for the Easter afternoon brawl between the Brewers and Pirates.
Apr 22, 2014, 3:08 PM EDT
Baseball has survived “threats” like Carlos Gomez before. And has even thrived because of them. Should guys like him respect the game? How sad that’d be.
Apr 22, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
And talking about baseball stars going “head-to-head” is kinda meaningless.
Apr 22, 2014, 1:27 PM EDT
No official word from MLB yet, but Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado has been suspended five games and fined $2,500 for his role in Sunday afternoon’s brawl with the Pirates.
Apr 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
MLB Network now has approximately 3,457 major leaguers on staff. Ryan Dempster is the newest.
Apr 22, 2014, 11:31 AM EDT
Guess what: it’s not in the front row.
Apr 22, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT
Yankees closer David Robertson is back from the disabled list after missing the past two weeks with a strained groin.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT
Left-hander James Paxton has been on the disabled list since April 9 and Adam Jude of the Seattle Times reports that the Mariners rookie is unlikely to rejoin the rotation until at least late May.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Batting practice can be a dangerous place, as Royals first base coach Rusty Kuntz unfortunately learned Monday when a Salvador Perez line drive broke his wrist.
- Albert Pujols becomes 26th member of 500 home run club 20
- MLB suspends Martin Maldonado, Carlos Gomez, Travis Snider, and Russell Martin for Easter brawl 44
- “Respect the Game?” Phooey. 101
- The MLBPA is serious about investigating leaks to reporters regarding Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales 31
- And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights 59