Last summer I was sitting around with my buddy David on a Sunday evening, flipping channels, trying to find something to watch. It was probably around 8 p.m. or so and, as you could probably imagine, the television slate was a wasteland.
One of the first channels we investigated was ESPN. Airing there was a regular season game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. We paused for a moment and stared at the TV. I could feel my jaw slowly starting to drop and drool beginning to leak out of my mouth. My eyes were glazing over. I felt very, very sleepy…
David snapped me out of it.
"Do you ever watch this shit?" he asked.
My head snapped up and without a second's hesitation I replied, "Absolutely not."
We both started laughing, asking each other, "Who DOES watch this shit?" It's a random, completely meaningless regular season baseball game. Who gets psyched to watch a regular season matchup between two National League Central teams? A game that in the midst of a 162-game regular season, one of the two teams on the field was already out of the playoff race. They were playing a game in July with nearly nothing at stake.
I was going to list a few horrible things I'd rather do than watch that game, but I'll tell you what we did do. We watched part of the CNBC documentary on McDonald's until a replay of a Kansas-Kansas State college basketball game from the season prior came on ESPNU.
Yes, CNBC and old college basketball won out over baseball.
Here are some telling statistics. As originally reported by Outkick the Coverage in January, a Harris Interactive poll has pro football crushing baseball as America's favorite sport by a whopping 23 percent (36 percent to 13 percent). College football is tied with baseball and auto racing (8 percent) isn't far behind. The numbers do shift from year to year, but no sport has plummeted in popularity more than baseball since 1985, taking a hit of -10 percent.
The largest demographic selecting baseball as their favorite sport? Adults aged 50 to 64.
There's just so many unappealing aspects about baseball, I'll put them in list form:
- The unbearable 162-game regular season that feels like it's being put out of its misery come playoff time rather than a celebration of the best teams.
- The lack of a salary cap that has historically to buried teams against those with seemingly endless amounts of cash.
- There's the lack of instant replay that only exists because the baseball "purists" (RE: Old people) are against changing the game that's been the same for 100 years. THIS IS 2012! WE HAVE TECHNOLOGY, DAMMIT!
- Most of the time the pace of the game is a joke and is primary reason many sports fans pay no mind to it.
- When it's the only thing on SportsCenter and football training camp is taunting me, I want to go absolutely apeshit.
- All the theatrics that are so horribly lame. The manager yelling at the umpire until he's ejected. Bench clearing "brawls" that aren't actually fights. Pitcher plunking hitters. It's trite and is actually really uneventful.
- The Baseball Hall of Fame is a miserable institution run by high and mighty baseball writers (Again, RE: Old people) who scoff at your modern ways. They shutout baseball players because of things like morals, values or that time in May of '76 when a haughty reporter was snubbed for an interview.
You get the idea. Baseball is boring because it's set in it's ways and refuses to change. That's fine. The sport will continue to decline in popularity until some major modifications are made. In the meantime, it'll be reruns and documentaries for me all summer long.
*Disclaimer: A lot of this bitterness is harbored from a lifetime of watching my local team, the Baltimore Orioles, lose, lose and lose some more. The last time anything they did that was worth cheering about I was in the second grade. I still watch only their meaningless games because when they return to glory it will be the sweetest thing ever. I stand by all of my previous statements. To Orioles fans: see you at Pickles on Friday.