The Miami Marlins didn’t have the greatest of debuts in their new home park, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 in a second opening day for the 2012 MLB season, which actually opened a week ago in Tokyo, Japan, in a two game series between the A’s and the Mariners. Did anyone notice, anyone at all?
I’m not talking about local fans. I’m talking about Baseball, still called ‘The national pastime’ grabbing national headlines. There seemed to be far more important things going on, and it does open up a few questions about the true relevance of the sport and what sports fans and the general public actually care about.
Baseball, unlike the NBA, can’t gather an international following. The NFL is king in the United States, while the NBA is king outside of it. Basketball being a more popular sport worldwide than Baseball is a fact that’s undeniable. The proximity to the Final Four didn’t help either. People are still talking about Kentucky, Anthony Davis and Baylor’s perfect season in the Women’s season. Baseball? It made headlines when the free agency deals were going on.
The Masters, even without getting started, are drawing much more interest than the opening day of the Baseball season. Having Tiger Woods back on the shortlist of potential winners makes talking and thinking about the green jacket more intriguing than 9 innings in the blossoming spring.
So is the problem with the game itself, or with the people running it? By banning MLB videos on youtube it already denies access and exposure. The MLB may be thinking money when it sends teams no one cares about on a national level to play in Japan, or split opening day games instead of making a big festival of it and gathering more than just local attention for each ball club, but it is alienating fans, which will hurt in the long run.
Look, in a season with 162 games for each team it’s hard to get all riled up about one game, even if it’s the first in six months. Maybe that’s a way to tackle the problem – A shorter season, with less games, with less outings for bad pitchers and so on and so on. Baseball is hung up on its traditions, but maybe there comes a time to let go. Nine innings? That can drag out to more than just an afternoon or an evening with your kids, in the park on in front of the television.
Whether it’s a marketing problem or faults in the structure of the game itself, a wonderful 7 game world series is forgotten, making the season opener in the United States almost a fringe event, lost among the wealth of sports around us, all looking like much better options unfortunately.