By Jackson Garner
Baseball is America’s favorite pastime. For nearly two centuries the sport has captivated the general public, however recently this has not been the case. It seems that baseball has lost its grip on America’s youth. According to an article in the Washington Post, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred agrees, expressing his concern that baseball is losing popularity. Manfred points to the sport’s viewership, dominated by the “50 years and older” demographic, and cites decreasing participation in amateur youth baseball leagues.
But why the decreasing popularity? Could America have grown sick of baseball? The answer, to put it bluntly, is yes.
With the shortened attention spans and fast-paced mentality of recent generations, baseball has become comparable to golf in the eyes of many. People will usually mention the slow pace of the game, a legitimate problem that baseball has considered trying to fix. Sports like football and basketball are usually high-scoring affairs and feature a lightning-quick pace of play. Players are able to showcase their athleticism and passion very easily, making both the game and the athletes much more attractive, not only to young athletes, but to the casual sports fan as well.
Enter the 2017 World Series. In a series originally billed as a pitching duel with aces like Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander taking the mound, we instead have seen a series with 58 total runs scored and a combined earned run average of 5.38 from both pitching staffs. To put that in perspective, last year’s World Series saw 54 total runs and a combined ERA of 3.57. That series was seven games long. At the time of these statistics, only five games of the 2017 World Series have been played. In addition, Game 5 was witness to seven home runs, pushing the series total to 22, breaking the previous record with at least one and possibly two games still yet to be played. It is no coincidence that this year’s World Series is bringing in more viewers than usual.
According to Programming Insider, Game 1 of the series was viewed by 14.968 million people, the second-highest mark since 2010. Sporting News also reported that Sunday’s Game 5 viewership was 36 percent higher than the Sunday Night Football game taking place in the same time slot, proving that with the right changes, baseball can compete with today’s more popular sports.
There is a clear connection between the exciting exhibition taking place in the World Series and the increase in people watching at home. Sure, for a baseball purist, a game full of groundouts that ends with a score of 1-0 is enjoyable, but the majority of people in America are casual sports fans. People want to be excited. People want to see something they have never seen before. Baseball has not moved the needle for years, but with pitchers desperately seeking a solution for each towering home run and each game seemingly topping the last, the 2017 World Series certainly does.
Baseball is in critical need of a change, and that change looks a lot like this. If America is sick of baseball, this series is the prescription.
This is the opinion of Jackson Garner, SJU sophomore