That’s savvy business acumen there, folks.
“Our chief goal throughout the process was to ensure that fans would have access to as many baseball games and as much baseball coverage as possible,” baseball chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said. “With this agreement, the MLB Channel will launch with an unprecedented platform.”
Speaking of savvy, MLB commissioner Bud Selig made approximately $14.5 million in salary and bonuses in 2005. That puts him up there with the likes of Gil Meche and Ted Lilly. Be that as it is, Selig’s commissionership as been as interesting as any since Kennesaw Mountain Landis first held the post in the 1920s. For one thing, MLB has seen an unprecedented growth in terms of attendance, revenue, the value of the franchises, new infrastructure and television dollars. More people around the globe are watching the game than at any other time in history.
That’s all very good.
Yet at the same time, while the world tunes in fewer groups of Americans are watching than ever – namely kids and African-Americans. According to popular sentiment and columnist/talk-show fodder, Selig has reigned during a time in which MLB has “lost a generation” of fans. Kids, apparently, have tuned out in favor of the NFL, NBA and whatever other types of technology rules the day. They have chosen to play those sports, as well as lacrosse, hockey and soccer, instead of signing up for the baseball team.
At the prep school across from my house, the structure of the athletic fields has changed exponentially over the past decade. Several of the baseball diamonds have been re-configured and re-lined as lacrosse and soccer pitches as the game seems to have less of a grip on the kids coming up. At least in the exurbs, it appears as if baseball has become a bit of a fringe sport like hockey and the other so-called “extreme” sports.
Meanwhile, the latest statistics indicate that fewer than 10 percent of Major Leaguers are African-American, which is the lowest total in at least two decades.
Are these issues simply a matter of MLB being short-sighted and ignoring its future fans and players by televising World Series games at 9 p.m. on school nights? Or is it something deeper?
I don’t know.
Aside from those issues, Selig seemingly buried his head in the sand as performance-enhancing drugs issues went from a concern to a scourge rendering the league’s records meaningless and its history with little context.
Other than that, every day fans seem to enjoy the wild card and interleague play. So they have that going for them…