Friday, April 30, 2010

Baseball- The Great American Pastime?

As the weather gets warmer and spring turns into summer, our interests start turning towards baseball again. As a kid growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, names like Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench, Carl Yaztremski, and Mike Schmidt showed me how likeable and relatable baseball can be with the everyday man. But as the excess of the 80’s seeped into baseball, so did the dynamics of the game and the players playing that game. In my teen’s, big cash-laden player contracts started to emerge.

But we demand it!

Always the argument revolved around the old business rule of supply/demand. Supposedly the good players were rewarded with good financial contracts. To keep the good players, teams had to constantly sweeten the pot, if not they would go to a team that would pay. I believed this for a long time. I thought that if the team has the money, it is their cost of doing business. However, I feel that this theory is flawed.

MLB’s disconnect

Baseball, from its humble beginnings, was a blue collar sport. Anyone and everyone could go and did go to see a baseball game. When free agency was adopted in 1969, it forever started to unravel this blue collar sport. It is true that players were not paid and treated very well throughout the years. As a result, the players gained the upper hand and have not looked back since. Throughout the 70’s and early 80’s salaries exponentially increased. Because of this, now “Joe Sixpack” cannot relate to these players. There was always a connection between fans and players. They were approachable. You do not get that feeling now.

As salaries have increased the relationship with the fans have decreased. Try and get A-Rod to sign a ball, if you can even get close enough to talk to him. Compounded this with the steroids controversy and baseball has become more and more irrelevant in the United States. MLB has become an elitist sport. The more money the team makes, the more ridiculous the salaries get. Recently an MLB Team signed a veteran to a $125 million 5 year contract. Is a baseball player worth $25 million a year?

Not for me anymore

I cannot afford to take my family to a MLB game. Marketing, ticket prices, and food sales all help to pay for that $25 million. I do not have hundreds of dollars to take my family to a game. Even if I did, I would not go. However, one silver lining to MLB is the Minor League Teams.  For $50 or so I can take my family to a Minor League game. 

Despite these exorbitant costs at MLB ballparks, people are still going.  At a certain point I wonder though if this will last. How much higher can ticket prices go? How much are we willing to pay for a 12oz beer? $10?! I know that I am not the only one who feels that way.

It is no longer the Great American Pastime. It is no longer a worker man’s game. Think about this, in 1985, a poll was taken and 24% of the people polled stated football was their favorite sport and 23% stated it was baseball. By comparison, in 2008, only 16% polled favored baseball and 31% favored football.  That shows me that many people are feeling the way I do. MLB needs to re-connect with the fans to stay relevant.  Take some tips from your Minor League Teams and offer promotions 

2 comments:

  1. Amen. brother! Iron Pigs all the way!

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  2. Amen, Brother! Iron Pigs are GREAT for this reason!

    ReplyDelete