Can Baseball Be Fixed?

Image Courtesy of Miami New Times

Samuel Anthony, Staff Writer

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Baseball, in recent years, has had a declining attendance problem. From 2017 to 2018, attendance dropped 4%, the largest drop between two years in baseball history. The drop has continued this year too, which begs the question: how can this be fixed? There isn’t a simple answer to this question. There are a few reasons for baseball’s attendance problem, none of which have a clear-cut answer.

The first reason for the continuing decline of baseball attendance is the rise in prices at the ballpark. The cost of tickets and food can often drive fans away, as they can watch the game from home for free. Although lower prices may seem like a simple answer to this, it isn’t that simple. Lowering prices would anger owners as their profits are going down. The most likely response from the owners would be to pay players less, which would anger players. The players’ union would almost certainly fight the cut in salaries for players, making cutting prices a more difficult solution.

The next problem is the lack of effort from some teams. Teams like the Marlins and the Orioles, both of which have among the lowest attendance in the league, are going through rebuilding phases. Teams like these care more about losing and getting a good draft pick than winning. They had absolutely no chance at being successful and are driving away fans. There isn’t a simple fix to this either. The league could force a minimum payroll but that doesn’t force effort or success. Teams could sign a bunch of players to low salary deals and trade them midyear for prospects. Instead of signing no one, they sign lottery tickets and hope to get lucky.

The last main problem of baseball is the length of games and the season. In an age of short attention spans, many people don’t want to see a three-hour game. They also don’t want to spend a week-day in April watching a baseball game when the playoffs don’t start until October. Baseball is a game of patience, and when many people are busy and impatient, there is no time for baseball. A solution to the length of the game problem would be to shorten the game to 6 to 7 innings. This might attract new fans but it would certainly drive away some people. Baseball is a very traditionalist and heavily reliant on stats. Shortening the game would drive away people who favor traditions. It would also skew stats and completely change the game. The second problem could be fixed by shortening the baseball season. Similar to the first problem, owners and players would fight it for the money. Since they are playing fewer games, there is less money coming into the game and they are getting paid less. All the problems need to be fixed in order to fix baseball and unfortunately, they don’t have simple answers.