Friday, October 3, 2008

How Major League Baseball Executives Are Killing the Future of the Sport

I grew up in Southeast Indiana near Madison, Indiana. The town on the Ohio River was about 90 miles downriver from Cincinnati. During my early teenage years, Cincinnati's Big Red Machine dominated the National League, winning the World Series in 1975 and 1976. I came of age keeping score of Reds games and looked forward to watching the playoffs and the series, especially when my Reds were participants. Because of those childhood experiences, I played baseball in high school dreaming of playing Major League baseball, a dream that only went unfulfilled because of a lack of talent. To this day, baseball remains near and dear to my heart even though I don't follow the game nearly as closely as I once did.

Baseball executives though are apparently trying to kill the sport. Although much of criticism of the sport has focused on steroids and the effect they have had on the integrity and hallowed records of the sport, a maybe more critical issue for the future of the sport is being overlooked - the failure to consider younger fans when scheduling playoff games.

Tonight I arrived home after teaching my class and thought I would turn the television on to see part of the Cubs game before watching the Vice President debate. I couldn't find the game. It turns out that, even though the game was being played in Chicago, the baseball powers that be thought it would be a good idea to not start the game until 9:30 p.m. In their world that means hitting prime time and maximum ratings, even though the game was relegated to cable. It is a short-sighted approach to the nation's pastime. Starting the game at 9:30 p.m. means the game tonight lasted past to well past midnight. It meant most would-be future fans of baseball, kids like me who grew up watching the playoffs and World Series, were in bed even if not before the first pitch was thrown, certainly before the last out of the game.

One wonders how Major League Baseball intends to build a fan base while depriving younger fans of the chance to see their favorite teams play in the post-season.

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