Well we’re a week away from the beginning of baseball season, and to me this signals an important transition in weather. If you can play baseball at Fenway Park then the horrible New England winter weather is most likely over; and thank god for that. But something is truly troubling to me, and that is that it feels like Baseball is being replaced, as our national pastime by football. We’re seven days away from baseball season, and all anyone can talk about is the NFL draft. And look, I don’t blame them this is one of the best draft classes of all time, but hey the boys of summer are back, and its time to hit the diamond not the gridiron. To me there are many contributing factors to why this is happening, but I wonder could the two co-exist as the national pastimes.
First of all lets look at baseball. Baseball is a pastoral game developed in the 1800’s and eventually moved into the cities of America in the early 20th century with the massive industrialization and urbanization . You could go see a game for a little money. Up until they started playing multiple night games a week Chicago Cubs fans would leave work mid-day to watch the Cubs play nine innings, and return to work.
But now things like this are impossible with the average ticket costing a literal arm and a leg, and unless you have a group-on your not getting into the stadium without shelling out a hefty amount of cash. First of all you have your ticket. Then you have transportation you have to figure in gas, tolls, parking, and possibly trains and buses. Then when you get in the stadium everything is incredibly expensive. One beer and a hot dog can run you up to $20. Ridiculous if you ask me. But it’s like this in every sport, but the thing about baseball is that they have the longest schedule out of all the Major Sports. Thus attending a baseball game multiple times a week has become a far off dream for many baseball fans.
Fortunately as a Red Sox fan we usually don’t have to see Fenway Park barely full, but other teams can barely get fans in the door. Why? Because of the expense and frequency. Think about it if you go to a game do you want to spend a king’s ransom to see the Astro’s play terribly against whatever team they’re playing against, or do you want to go see the Rockets who have one of the highest winning percentages in Basketball play against any team in the NBA? Easy choice…
As for frequency I would say that 162 games is too long of a season. The typical MLB season lasts 180 days. This leaves players only 18 off days, and about 15 off days if they’re partaking in All-Star Game festivities. This frequency to me is what is deterring fans from getting into baseball, as it is just too hard to keep up with if you have a life. Plus the scheduling is quite confusing with teams playing 19 games against four opponents in own division which adds up to a whopping 76 games. They then play 6 games against 11 opponents in other divisions within their league which adds up to 66 games. And then there are 20 inter-league games. To be able to schedule that must be quite the task, let alone being a casual fan or someone new to the game.
Now lets look at Football where there football is a 16 game schedule. This makes football an easy thing to keep tabs on, and every Sunday (or Monday and Thursday) is an event. As a fan you know your team is playing that day, and you know against which team, and you’ve been breaking down the matchup all week in your head, and probably are planning on watching multiple games, as you want to watch your players on your fantasy team play.
Now these two sports are like comparing apples and oranges, but lets look at one of the other contenders for America’s national pastime, Basketball. The NBA is interesting because it’s regular season is almost half the length of the MLB’s. During the regular season, each team plays 82 games, 41 each home and away. A team faces opponents in its own division four times a year which adds up to 16 games. Each team plays six of the teams from the other two divisions in their own conference four times which adds up to 24 games. They then face the remaining four teams three times which adds up to 12 games. Every team also plays all the teams in the other conference twice adding 30 games.
Now this cut in frequency is something that baseball should consider. 82 games might be a little low, but somewhere around the 110-120 mark would not be bad, and it would allow more rest for players, and would increase attendance at many parks. I’d also beef up the MLB playoffs, as they are quite boring we all know which pool of teams are going to be a viable choice for the playoffs by June, but by adding a longer playoff it would make the game more interesting, and would make playoff races better, as teams would be fighting even harder to make it into the playoffs.
This would make baseball go through the roof, and bango we have our national pastime back, and it can co-exist with Football….