Drew Pierce is a junior journalism major and is a columnist for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Write to Drew at email@example.com.
I love baseball.
It’s my favorite sport.
And that is why this offseason has been extremely tough as I had to sit and watch Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and the rest of the MLB higher-ups attempt to destroy the sport I love.
They aren’t doing it on purpose. I know that, but Manfred and his cronies are so out of touch that one day they will wake up and see the damage they caused.
We thought Roger Goodell was bad for the NFL, but I think Manfred is taking over as the worst commissioner in America. And here is why.
According to a study by the Sports Business Journal, the average age of an MLB viewer in 2016 was 57. It is crucial for a younger audience to be engaged in the league if it wants to grow. A huge reason why the MLB is not being viewed by younger people is that there is no good way to stream games without paying a fortune.
The primary streaming platform is MLB.TV. In order to watch your team’s games throughout the season is $93.99. To get full access to every team’s out-of-market games, it is $121.99. But both plans are subject to many black-out dates making it even more expensive. Unfortunately, there is no other consistent way to watch your favorite teams without paying for cable. I’m not sure if the MLB knows it, but streaming services are already starting to take over. Either adjust or get out of the way.
Here is where the MLB went wrong. When the popularity of YouTube and other social media sites popped off, it claimed, and still claims, thousands of videos that show clips of games. Instead of leaning into free publicity, the MLB decided to make short-term cash by claiming content online. This made sharing baseball content so much harder for the average person.
And, finally, we come to this offseason when one of the worst cheating scandals in baseball history was uncovered. The MLB executed an investigation on the Houston Astros and how they electronically stole signs during their 2017 World Series championship run. The Astros were handed a $5 million fine, the loss of a few draft picks and suspensions for the General Manager and Coach.
Then, Manfred massively screwed up. He gave immunity to the players involved to get more information as to how this cheating took place. So, when a pitcher gets a one-game suspension because he intentionally hit Jose Altuve this season, he will receive a harsher penalty than any Astros player for electronically stealing signs.
That can’t be right, and it is setting an extremely dangerous precedent for the future of baseball.
However, the MLB can be fixed, and here is how.
First off, we need to shorten the season. A regular season comprised of 162 games is so long. As a baseball fanatic, I love watching the sport from April to October, but in terms of growing the sport and improving ratings, it has to be shorter.
Secondly, the MLB needs to stop being stingy with its content. There is no better marketing nowadays than viral marketing that hits a younger demographic. Letting people share MLB content without being claimed is crucial.
Finally, we come to Manfred. This is a man that referred to the World Series trophy as a “piece of metal.” This is a man that does not care about adapting to the times of society and mainstream entertainment. This is a man that granted immunity to some of the biggest cheaters to ever play the sport.
Baseball cannot grow with someone like this at the helm. MLB will never be the biggest sport in America again with this type of leadership. The type of leadership that is so stuck in the old ways of business that true growth is impossible. America’s pastime will soon become a thing of the past if something doesn’t change.
Contact Drew Pierce with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dpierce3cc.