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Wait, baseball may not be dying, you guys

Jul 3, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

Image (1) baseball%20grass.jpg for post 5839

Everyone tells me that baseball is dying, and then I go and read stuff like this from Maury Brown at Forbes:

Major League Baseball got some good news on the financial front ahead of their All-Star Game, when credit benchmark company Fitch Ratings reaffirmed baseball’s ‘A’ status on the league’s $500 million senior secured credit facility. Fitch also affirmed the ‘A’ rating on the outstanding $995.85 million term notes the league is carrying. They rate MLB as “stable”.

While fans have looked at declining television ratings for Major League Baseball at the national level, baseball continues to be a financial juggernaut, and Fitch honed in on that.

As Brown notes, all of the things people say about baseball — that the national ratings suck, that the demographics make the Republican Party membership look young, hip and vibrant and that the sport somehow no longer occupies a favored place in the national consciousness — the fundamentals of the sport are still strong. It’s profitable, its TV deals are lucrative and attendance continues to be strong.

This is probably one of those deals, we’ll be told sometime soon, where the numbers don’t tell us everything and that, really, in every way that matters, the sport is indeed doomed. Wait for it. You know it’ll come.

  1. Mark Armour - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    Baseball is becoming like football, which is likely its goal. An insanely popular business based on a sport that fewer and fewer Americans play. The disagreement about the sport’s health is largely based on a disagreement as to what “health” means.

    • hgulkkcaj - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      Do fewer and fewer Americans play baseball? I have a hard time believing that. Any statistics to back that up or is that just a perception?

      • Mark Armour - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        Mostly perception, I guess. I coached Little League baseball for five years, ending a couple of years ago. Our middle class college town is 50,000 people, but the Little League is shrinking compared with a decade ago. Most of the kids play soccer, and the best athletes usually give up baseball once the soccer time commitment requires it. It seemed like most of the 11-12 years old stuck with it because of their parents. If I drive by the high school right now, I will see kids playing soccer.

      • blacksables - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        Wusses. Who wants them?

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      Football is still the most popular sport among high school boys, by far. The decline is greatly exaggerated. Just like it is with baseball.

      • Mark Armour - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:58 PM

        When you say football is popular among high school boys, are you talking about posters on the bedroom wall, watching games on the couch with a bag of Doritos, or going to a park with a pigskin and playing the game? Football and baseball are marketed for the first two groups, and that is where they are still successful.

      • blacksables - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        If you hate sports so much, why are you here commenting?

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:59 PM

        I mean popular as in over 1 million boys played high school football in 2012.

      • renaado - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:10 PM

        Is this “football” you’re talkin about American rugby or the real football one?

  2. hk62 - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    Craig, Fitch “A” rating companies do not go flat line soon after – this means the financial metrics are stable and that means revenue GROWTH and cash flow are exactly where they want to see them.
    They could give a rats you know what about what the company’s actually business is that generates those metrics. (As long as they aren’t housed in a 3rd world dictatorship).

    This is another A+ on the business side for Bud and his team too – using cheap money for operating instead of self funding. Pretty smart. Does this mean though that there is a public 10-K or similar for MLB? That would be cool to see.

  3. rupp246 - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    Baseball sucks, the game is to slow and boring. They need to bring in a timer like the college game to help speed it up .

    • hgulkkcaj - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      Then why are you here, reading baseball articles on a baseball website?

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      Your mom is too slow and boring.

      • kcroyal - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:33 PM

        Pfff, you’ve obviously never been with her. Slow and Boring and definitely not how I would describe her.

    • renaado - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      Go back to your den man… Baseball Sucks? Boring? Haha, you really have no idea what you’re talkin about but just speakin to yourself.

    • pisano - Jul 4, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      You’d rather watch soccer? watching a bunch of guys run back and forth for 90 mins. and score one or less goals isn’t exciting to me, I’d rather watch grass grow.

  4. onbucky96 - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    Psst. Soccer sucks. Pass it on…

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      Boo. Soccer is awesome! Just not as awesome as baseball, basketball, football or hockey :D

    • mybrunoblog - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:59 PM

      Why can’t people like multiple sports? I follow MLB and the NFL closely but not much else. That said, I hear the major stories in the other sports and I’ve been to a few NBA and NHL games in my lifetime. They were fun too. Get out of your little box. There’s a big world out there don’t be afraid to explore it.
      Almost forgot. I’ve really enjoyed the World Cup games too.

  5. raysfan1 - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    “Bring out yer dead!”

    • 4d3fect - Jul 3, 2014 at 10:34 PM

      “but I’m not dead yet!”

      • raysfan1 - Jul 4, 2014 at 12:47 AM

        “You’ll be stone dead in a moment!”

    • yahmule - Jul 4, 2014 at 1:07 AM

      We just got back from a local dinner theater production of Spamelot. Quite a jolly time.

  6. 461deep - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    TV has slowed the game down some however, it is still a great game. Football is exciting but boring at times because you only have 2 basic plays run or pass. So both sports have to be watched with anticipation and analysis. The World Series and Super Bowl are great events but hard to watch. since the games are endless TV extravaganzas. The Super Bowl is now brutal to watch taking at least 3.5 hours to play 60 minutes. Yes it is all about revenue but c’mon my attention span is not as long as a fiber optic cable. Pleasure to go to minor league games that get you back home In good time.

  7. kcroyal - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    Craig I have a quick question. Time Out Of Mind: Great Dylan album, or Greatest Dylan album? I thought, when it came out, simply great. But the more I give it a listen through the years, I’m leaning more toward greatest, or at the very least most underrated.

  8. renaado - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    Come on Craig, we all know Baseball isn’t dyin… These writers are just too delusional to think Baseball is dying, the game of Baseball has been healthy as ever and will always be.

  9. normcash - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    It always amazes me that people think there was a “golden age” when baseball’s popularity
    was beyond question. Go look up the attendance figures from the 20s, 30s, 40, and 50s. They
    were horrible by today’s standards. In the late 40s/early 50s, when baseball had no real competition
    from other sports and almost no games were televised, very few teams drew 1,000,000 fans a
    year. I venture that the worst team attendance now would have led either league in 1950. As for
    the low and declining ratings for nationally-televised games, this is a natural product of having
    virtually all games televised. When much of the country only got the CBS Game of the Week
    with Pee Wee and Dizz, the ratings were high because there weren’t other games to see—not to mention that most people only received a couple of channels. I love baseball. I’m a Tiger fan. But
    I will usually pass on the ESPN Sunday night game if it’s, say, Washington vs. Atlanta. The local team’s ratings across the country are quite high—-FSD’s Tiger telecasts often lead the TV ratings in Michigan—not just sports ratings, ALL TV programs. When the “popularity” issue gets discussed, it’s usually in terms of TV audiences. The NFL is once-a-week. Baseball is everyday. That’s a huge reason football’s TV ratings are high nationally. So, if you look at overall TV audience size and in-person attendance and you add in the phenomenal popularity of many minor-league teams, I’d say baseball is doing just fine—better than it ever has, in fact. The business success of MLB as confirmed by the Fitch assessment is mere confirmation…

    • eutawmike - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:09 PM

      baseball is alive and well !
      just great album,i prefer love and theft

    • raysfan1 - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:45 PM

      The Rays, with 1.5 million in attendance last year, would have been third in 1950–behind the Yankees, Giants, and Indians. So, while you weren’t quite right, you were close. They’d have been 2nd in the AL in 1970 too, barely edged out by the Red Sox.

      • blacksables - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:50 PM

        There are also twice as many people in the country now as there was 50 years ago.

        Percentages are fun. They tell you many things.

      • raysfan1 - Jul 3, 2014 at 8:30 PM

        Very well, there are also nearly twice as many teams now as in 1950 too. If you really want to play percentages, you have to factor that in.

        The Rays’ 1.5 million attendance would not have been an issue until after 1998.

    • 4d3fect - Jul 3, 2014 at 10:45 PM

      Apples, oranges, Y u not the same?

  10. yahmule - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    As long as baseball dies roughly the same time I do, who cares, you know?

    • blacksables - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:51 PM

      I’m trying to teach my daughter to love baseball. Can we wait until she dies?

      • yahmule - Jul 4, 2014 at 1:08 AM

        What the heck, let’s go one more generation.

  11. rcali - Jul 3, 2014 at 9:54 PM

    Don’t tell this to Cowturd on ESPiN. That genius knows it all.

  12. adelphos33 - Jul 4, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    The US is large and diverse enough to support multiple sports, including baseball, basketball, football, hockey and yes even soccer.

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