The National Pastime Is Up For Debate

I absolutely love this discussion, I don’t know why.  I just find these major glacial shifts fascinating.

Of course, you could say the argument is over and has been for some time.  Football has been pulling in bigger ratings, making more money, and generating more fan interest for quite some time now when compared to baseball.  But nowhere was it more explicit, more black and white, than in the overnight numbers from Monday night.

A regular season, Monday night football game featuring two small-market teams without much in the way of big name stars beat out Game 3 of the ALCS featuring the Yankees and the Rangers.  Andy Pettitte vs. Cliff Lee.  A-Rod & Jeter & Mark Teixeira & Robinson Cano vs. Vladimir Guerrero & Josh Hamilton & the rest of these upstarts looking to take it to the defending champs in their home stadium.

That’s just what we knew going into those two games.  What transpired made it that much more galling.  A 30-3 snoozefest where both teams’ starting quarterbacks were knocked out in the first half beat out a game that was 2-0 going into the top half of the 9th inning where Lee was dealing and the Yankees were looking to make a dramatic comeback.  Now, the top of the 9th notwithstanding, WHY was anyone watching that football game?

I mean, I know why I was watching that football game.  I had a fantasy game to win, I had MJD and Tennessee’s defense, and with every Trent Edwards gaffe that game became more and more exciting.

I won’t discredit that argument, by the way.  What’s more popular right now in sports than Fantasy Football?  It gives the casual fan a reason to follow the game on a daily basis when they only play games 2 days a week most weeks.  It enhances those games you do watch because, even if you’re a fan of a horrible team, you can still root for the players on your fantasy team.  So, people are less apt to tune out once the Seahawks are down by 20 in the second half.  Aside from actual gambling, Fantasy Football is the best thing that’s ever happened to Real Football (and it’s about time these old dogs in the business finally realized what’s making their league the most popular in the country, so they should stop fucking discrediting where their bread is buttered).

Aside from that, if you just took the NFL out of it, Major League Baseball is doing itself no favors.  They’re not doing a damn thing to market their league to the younger fanbase.  Here are the usual suspects:

  • The Games Are Too Long
  • The Games Start Too Late
  • There Are Too Many Games
  • Chicks Dig The Long Ball
  • There Are No Stars
  • There Are Too Many Off-Days In The Playoffs
  • The Yankees & Red Sox Always Win

As for the first point, there’s nothing they can do about it without completely revolutionizing the game.  What are they going to do, make all the games 6 innings long?  Would that even be considered baseball at that point?

The second point is much more valid.  Games starting too late.  Take this series with the Yankees and Rangers; most games are starting at 5pm PDT.  That’s 8pm where it counts (on the East Coast, where most of the country’s citizens live).  That means that the game is dragging on into the 11 o’clock hour.  Now, if you’re a kid in elementary or middle school, are your parents necessarily going to let you stay up until midnight – on a school night – to watch a baseball game?

These are the fans of tomorrow, you understand this right?  You know how cigarette companies would market their product to children, so they could cultivate future generations of smokers?  That’s what baseball should be doing, but isn’t.  Football, on the other hand, starts in the early afternoon for most people (in the morning for us west coasters).  A kid can wake up, sit with his pop, and watch a bunch of football all day and still be in bed at a reasonable hour.  That same kid can see, maybe, 6 innings of a baseball game before his mom comes in and throws the gauntlet down (which sucks, because all the action happens in those last three innings while he’s asleep).

Too many games in the regular season?  You betcha.  It’s a grind.  You either have to root for a winning ballclub or be a real fan’s fan to withstand such a grind.  But, again, what’s baseball gonna do?  They’re not going to take money out of their pockets by reducing the number of games; that’s rediculous!

The lack of exciting home runs and home run chases I’ve discussed before.  That kind of corresponds with the lack of stars; the more homers you hit, the more popular you become.

These off-days in the playoffs are pretty rediculous.  It shouldn’t take 10 days to complete a 7-game series.  The season ended October 3rd; it’s now October 20th and we’re only in the middle of the second round.  It’s not fair to the fans to drag this shit out and it’s not fair to the players who have to sit around and wait forever.

As for the Yankees and the Red Sox, again, what are you going to do?  It’s a free market.  I just wish my team knew that.  At least for the casual Mariners fan, if you’re still remotely interested in the sport of baseball, you can always root AGAINST the Yankees and the Red Sox whenever they’re on TV.  That’s better than nothing I guess.

The debate is over.  Baseball has lost.  The NFL is king.

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