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Baseball is dying, you guys

Aug 13, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

It takes a special kind of logic to start your segment with a callback to the 1994 strike — the darkest moment in recent baseball history — and then make a full-throated argument that baseball today is in dire trouble. I mean, you think one would at least note that baseball has achieved labor peace, instituted the strongest drug testing regime in U.S. sports and has increased revenues something like 800% since then, but maybe that just slipped everyone’s mind:

To be fair: I  am on board with concern about the demographics of baseball fandom. It is somewhat concerning that the audience for the game is getting older. Baseball worries about that too and they’ve actually been working on it. Time will tell if they figure that out. It’s also worth wondering and maybe worrying about who the next commissioner will be. The current battle to replace Bud Selig has one faction which seems to want to take us back to the days when owners and players were at odds and things like salary caps were discussed in polite company. If that happens, we could find ourselves back in the bad old days again.

But to claim that baseball “depends” on local revenue as if that were a bad thing and to cite the Q-ratings of various athletes as if that is some gauge of health is a lot of effort to get around the fact that baseball is doing really darn well these days. Way better than it was doing in the mid-90s, that’s for sure.

  1. emrtgb - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    Baseball isn’t deal until they pry it from my cold, lifeless fingers.

    The rest of the county can have football. I’ll take my baseball.

    • hgulkkcaj - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      “The rest of the county can have football. I’ll take my baseball.”

      That’s beautiful right there.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        I agree, but that’s not to say that Olbermann isn’t right in his concerns. I contra-blog Craig here:

        http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2014/08/is-baseball-dying-keith-olbermann-makes.html

      • skids003 - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Keith Olbermann has never been right about anything.

    • son2play4giants - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Amen!! Plus one. No better game out there.

    • timberwolvesbrisin - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Agree, I dont get people who worship at the alter of football who call baseball boring and un-exciting. Have they ever noticed that the majority of football games are commercials? That it’s a few seconds of action followed by nothing?

      • clydeserra - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        try going to an NFL game.

        so, so so much standing around waiting to get back from commercial.

        At least when there is a commercial break in a baseball game, there are guys going out to a position and warming up and such

      • RickyB - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        It’s a few seconds of action, followed by replays from seven or eight angles to keep viewers from realizing there is a long stretch when nothing is actually happening, then with big commercial breaks after a score and right after the ensuing kickoff. And punts. And timeouts. And replay reviews. And more replay reviews. Yeah, you can have football.

      • gibbyfan - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        Great Point Timber –I was a huge NFL fan for most of my life but reently gave it up almost completely for exactly that reason. I often wonder how anyone can sit in front of a screen for 3- 4 hours to watch about 60 minutes of football. For me theunbearable commercials (all based on unbridled greed) just reached atipping point for me.

      • 4d3fect - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:08 PM

        Much as I despise George Will, gotta paraphrase him here:

        Football combines the worst aspects of American life: violence interrupted by committee meetings.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        George Will combines the worst aspects of American conservativism: Pretentions of intellectual superiority and actual fact-free stupidity.

        No wonder he’s a Cubs fan!

        D*mn, killing two birds with one stone.

      • skids003 - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        Sounds just like a liberal to me.

      • rarson - Aug 13, 2014 at 7:40 PM

        Average amount of time that the ball is actually in play in a football game is about 11 minutes.

      • jayneal12 - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:18 AM

        As opposed to the 18 minutes of actual ball in play during a baseball game, that you watch 162 times a year. I’m a huge fan of both baseball avanda football. I don’t see why some ignorant folks feel the need to crap on something just to prove a point about another thing.

    • SocraticGadfly - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      Craig Calcaterra is dying, folks. I’m concerned about his demographics.

      If we don’t get a “baseball is dying” blog post within the next 30 days, someone call 9/11.

      • flosox - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        Through what means should I call September 11th?

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    Perhaps baseball fans are older because it is more of a thinking man’s game. As long as the current batch of NBA/NFL-watching kids matures and comes to their senses at some point, the audience should remain strong.

    • Brian P. Mangan - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      Then why would that not have been the case before, in ’95, at the beginning of that chart?

      I don’t want to agree with Olbermann, but I have to.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Because kids are getting dumber, just like every crotchety old man has ever said.

        Honestly, I think other sports offer more instant gratification, while baseball can kind of blend into a tapestry of a long season. Few individual games are important in and of themselves, and one must understand the context a bit more. Perhaps Instagram and snapchat kids are not into it.

        I don’t know if this is for real, but it reminds me of classical music in a way. It is not so much that the fan base is aging, but that they are old. Yet there are more new old people all the time.

      • infieldhit - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        You don’t even have to as far back as classical, kids don’t even listen to rock music anymore.

        Along with slower play (and slow players who exacerbate it), the two other things going against baseball are that it’s played every day (resulting in a lack of urgency for a given game) and the big names aren’t constantly involved in the action (maybe a kid is curious about that Mike Trout guy, but he has to wait till an at-bat, or hope the ball is hit to him).

        Even in the summer when there’s just baseball, there’s a lot more non-sports stuff it has to compete with now, on TV and otherwise.

    • baberuthslegs - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      Sabathia I like your thinking.
      Unfortunately, the current batch of kids has smoked so much pot
      their minds are stagnant. I once had a student tell me “I don’t
      want to do that math problem.” When I asked him why not he said,
      “It’s making me have to think.”
      Baseball is the thinking man and woman’s sport. That population
      is shrinking rapidly.

    • clydeserra - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      I love baseball. I don’t like the other sports, but where oh where did it get this reputation of “the thinking [person's] game?”

      There are far more things to “think” about in football and basketball and soccer and hockey.

      there are no “plays” in baseball, hit and run? bunt? OK sure, but the other team sports have so much choreographed action, the plays take time to come up with, construct, teach and execute.

      What pitch to throw? well, OK, but there are really only 3. Fast, slow, breaking. All others are variations.

      Substitutions? Other sports have more variables on when to sub.

      I don’t like the superiority on intellectualism.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:45 PM

        Wow, I hope you’re wearing a cup after posting that.

  3. ripwarrior - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    Bring back the roids!

  4. Hard On For Harden - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    This is something I haven’t seen before. Very creative, well done.

  5. the8man - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the two generations that followed me, I’m 50, are less interested in Major League Baseball than faster paced sports such as football, lacrosse, hockey and soccer. And I think the majority of them would rather play video games than watch baseball.

    So that being said, what do you change to make the game more compelling? Randomly placed landmines in the outfield?

    • Francisco (FC) - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      How about on a home run, you have a security guy chase the player around the bases with a taser. The home run only counts if he’s not tased by the time he touches home plate. Let’s see how fast those home run trots are.

  6. thebadguyswon - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    I’ll take baseball AND football. We’re two months away from October – the most glorious sports month of the year. NFL in full swing, MLB playoffs all accompanied by a beautiful scenic backdrop of fall color.

    • southpaw2k - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      This guy knows what’s up.

      Amen, brotha. Amen.

    • cshearing - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      Don’t forget the NHL starting up, with NBA right around the corner.

      I am a sports fan; I like pretty much all of them. So I find the whole self-congratulatory “baseball is for thinking people” sentiment on here is pretty hilarious. If you think truly following an NFL play requires no thinking then you know little about the league and sound as bad as the football fan that calls baseball boring.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:48 PM

        I think the feeling is more that you have to be kinda dumb to let 300+ lb men run at you and take you down. It doesn’t exactly suggest a thoughtful bent. Also, you don’t make the defensive line by being literate. The football dudes in my state aren’t exactly known for their intellectual prowess either. On the upside, it’s a sport virtually free of fat-shaming.

    • lanflfan - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      I also love both football and baseball. Both offer different types of visual entertainment, and as they cross paths on the calendar for only two months, to me they accentuate the positive qualities of both sports.

  7. johnnysoda - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    I feel like HBT should introduce a new, interactive game: Craig bingo.

    Every week, every commenter gets a card, with spaces such as:
    “Baseball is Dying”
    “Yasiel Puig”
    “The Indians Logo”
    “Respecting the Game”
    “Atlanta Braves”
    “A-Rod”
    “Bud Selig”
    “Minor League Drug Suspensions”
    plus others

    Every time Craig posts something about one of those topics, each player fills out that space on his/her card. The first player to get a bingo for the week wins a prize.

    • renaado - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      Still waitin for some more international Baseball news to show up…

    • noodles73 - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:23 PM

      Also add a space for “The Phillies and Ruben Amaro suck!”
      Actually that should the free space spot.

      • johnnysoda - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        I think a better free space would be “Another journalist wrote something and I don’t like it!”

    • SocraticGadfly - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Or do shot-drinking Bingo with it.

      • johnnysoda - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:27 PM

        Half the readership would be dead of alcohol poisoning.

      • lanflfan - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:28 PM

        The alcohol industry isn’t prepared for the type of mass purchasing that would result from a Craig-inspired drinking game.

    • chiadam - Aug 13, 2014 at 8:01 PM

      “Owning Craig Calcaterra”

      by

      johnnysoda

  8. stupidusername - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    No matter how stupid (to the point of being funny), no way I’m watching anything with Keith Olbermann.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      Then you are missing a lot of really good criticism lately. I may not agree with some of his political ideas, but his recent videos on the NFL, Ray Rice, this one, etc are extremely well done.

      • infieldhit - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:54 AM

        I’ll admit I enjoy Olbermann, and prefer to get my sports news from him instead of Sportscenter. But boy, his jokes during highlights gets pretty tedious if you watch him often enough. I could see how that might annoy potential viewers. Byyye, Felicia!

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        Oh I don’t watch his show (I pretty much avoid ESPN at all costs), but when he’s makes a point, his 6-7 min rant can be extremely worthwhile a person’s time.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        He’s OK, but too much in the Democratic tank.

        Don’t blame me for Obama either time; I voted Green.

    • hojo20 - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      100% Agree, I don’t like that Maddow guy either.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:33 PM

        Who’s that?

      • Bryz - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        Do you mean Chris “Mad Dog” Russo?

      • skids003 - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        I thought it was Mad Cow.

      • natstowngreg - Aug 13, 2014 at 4:39 PM

        Rachel Maddow?

    • skids003 - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      I’d rather watch grass grow than Keith Olbermann. Nothing but a self serving jerk, who gets fired from every job he gets. And anyone MSNBC fires has to be awful.

  9. rcali - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Compared to now, I hardly watched baseball as a kid. I think the older you get, the more you appreciate the game. I can understand why soccer is growing as a sport, it’s simple, anybody can play it, just need one ball, don’t need a lot of coaching or mentoring from adults, parents feel there is less of an injury factor.

    • renaado - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      I think it’s just more about the person’s interest at the sport waning or growin, every person has limitations on how long they can stay loyal or follow the game… I’m from a basketball country where basketball dominates itself from our other sport, yet… I grew tired of it. Not all people always goes for the sport which are more action packed. But rather, on how you look on it’s style or unique kind of play which differs from other sports. I became a Baseball fan In 2010 cause of the Braves and I’ve seen the 2009 WBC year before… After seein that, my curiousity on learnin the sport more gradually turn from knowing more about the game to loving it.

  10. clesportsfan - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Have you seen my baseball?

  11. vlock1 - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    Watched this last night – or a little of it, at least – and I had three thoughts:

    1. Scoring is down, but games are still taking a looong time to play, and as much as I love a good pitcher’s duel, a home run – especially a long one – is more immediately exciting.

    2. A 25-year-old baseball fan was 9 in 1998. (I know.) Thus, he or she has spent the last ten-plus years hearing that the guys he or she grew up idolizing are fraudulent drugged-up naughty naughty cheaty frauds.

    3. It doesn’t matter, because baseball’s not going anywhere.

  12. southpaw2k - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    I remember a Sunday in October 2009 when the Eagles were scheduled to play a home game, and the Phillies were hosting the Yankees in the World Series that night. People talked about this day like it would be chaos, since the two stadiums are next door to one another and shared parking lots. About the only people who didn’t see a problem were Philadelphians, who tailgated for the Eagles game during the day, went to the game, then went back to their cars to keep partying for a few hours before heading over to Citizens Bank Park.

    Okay, we’re obviously talking about a World Series involving two major media markets, but we’re also talking about teams centered in the Northeast. Baseball managed to survive a “crisis” of a World Series that roughly 66% of the country couldn’t give a rodent’s rear end about, and I don’t see the sport collapsing just because kids play pick-up basketball or football more often nowadays.

  13. infieldhit - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    I don’t understand why Olbermann places so much blame on interleague play. I doubt any kid ever has declined to watch the World Series because the participants “already played each other during the regular season.” It’s not a big deal in the other sports, and it doesn’t even apply every year.

    • willjasper - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      I think his point was there used to be something exotic about the league your city didn’t play in. That would drive ratings for things that featured the other league, like the World Series for people who didn’t have a rooting interest.

  14. historiophiliac - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    Alphabetically, Rawlings comes before Spalding, so baseball wins and is always before basketball.

    QED

    • clydeserra - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      Pardon?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Spalding

      • historiophiliac - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        Look at the balls!

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        Look at the balls!

        It’s almost too easy! ;)

      • infieldhit - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        Clearly what baseball needs is more hilarious dick jokes.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        @infieldhit … Dick jokes in baseball, I think, have to start with Dick “don’t call me Richie” Allen.

      • clydeserra - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        Rich Harden.

        Dudes first name is James, but decided to use his middle name Richard.

        Seriously. Canadians are weird.

      • nworca - Aug 13, 2014 at 7:36 PM

        Randy Johnson

      • Kevin S. - Aug 13, 2014 at 7:48 PM

        Just forestalling any confusing with the bearded NBA player to follow.

  15. clydeserra - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    more day games so kids can watch

    at least one day world series game, preferably both weekend games

    Problem solved

    • acepicker4 - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      Simple people provide simple solutions. They also end their argument with “problem solved” or “nuff said” as though they have covered every possible angle and only the incredibly stupid could think of anything outside of their simple solution.
      Thanks Clyde. ‘Nuff said

      ( I think day WS games would be great BTW, but more day games in reg season would decrease TV revenue which is now the driver of the game)

      • infieldhit - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        They could at least put the games on an hour earlier. Seems like having East coast viewers awake to watch the end would be more important than West coast viewers getting home in time to catch the start.

      • clydeserra - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        I agree that more day games would decrease TV revenue. But that isn’t the point. That would be spending revenue now in order to keep it going in the future.

        I also acknowledge that it is a more complicated problem than just a silly tweak like I suggest.

        (also also, did you call me dumb?)

  16. jfk69 - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Baseball is not dying.
    It is just slow.

    • SocraticGadfly - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      Rule 6.02 and Rule 8.04.

  17. nsstlfan - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    I Am So Sick of this baseball is dying crap.

  18. umrguy42 - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    Bring out your dead! (And sorry if this double posts, I don’t see the first one)

  19. bajamex - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    The obligatory monthly “baseball is dying” post. Good.

  20. dumbassgreg - Aug 13, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    baseball was saved by steroids McGwire sosa bonds. now they want to punish them. without the steroids era. baseball was dying. baseball morality is two faced tony larussa gets in hall of fame managing running steroids programs but the players who took steroids get punished.

  21. disgracedfury - Aug 13, 2014 at 7:14 PM

    Football is a better sport because it’s once a week and most of the biggest fans never go to games but it’s better on TV.

    I love baseball but lets be honest Football fans don’t care for PEDS and baseball got out of the strike because of PEDS not Selig.

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