The Spectacle Blog

Re: Baseball is Dying, Football is the National Pastime

By on 10.21.10 | 2:00PM

As someone who has contributed a number of baseball articles to TAS, I must take issue with Joseph Lawler's assertion that "baseball is dying" because 0.7% fewer TV sets were tuned into Game 3 of the American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers than Monday Night Football.

Of course, Monday Night Football is only one night a week hence the name Monday Night Football. Chances are more viewers tuned into Game 4 between the Yankees and Rangers Tuesday night.

Critics of baseball have been speaking of its impending death for nearly 150 years. To paraphrase Mark Twain, such rumors have been greatly exaggerated. If baseball is dying then why did more than 73 million people attend MLB games during the 2010 season? If baseball is dying then how come the New York Yankees are valued at more than a billion dollars? If baseball is dying then why did Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and his partner Chuck Greenberg have to fight Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tooth and nail to keep him from buying the Texas Rangers? If baseball is dying then why do fans show up at Wrigley Field to watch a team that hasn't won a World Series in over one hundred years?

Of course, there is always room for improvement. I wouldn't mind seeing at least one day game in the World Series. There were no night games in the World Series until 1971. But for the past quarter century all Fall Classic games have been under the lights. The last day game played in the World Series took place in 1984 when the Detroit Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in Game 5 to clinch what turned out to be their last World Series title.

But don't even think about speeding up the games. Don't make baseball into something that it isn't. Baseball's modulation is unique. There is no clock. It has its own pace. Sometimes that pace is leisurely and sometimes that pace is lightning quick. If Joseph doesn't think baseball can be fast paced then he ought to watch Roy Halladay pitch sometime.

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