DYING A SLOW DEATH

I haven’t watched one at bat in the baseball postseason and and have no intention of doing so.

If I don’t see it on the highlights, it didn’t happen.

Apparently there are millions and millions of other people doing the same thing.

The NFL is killing MLB in the TV ratings.

NFL regular season games are getting twice what baseball playoff games are getting.

Post season baseball is better than regular season football, if you like baseball.

It’s obvious that fewer and fewer people are interested in baseball.

Think it has anything to do with the fact that it’s October 20th and people are into the things that come with Fall? You know, crisp, sunny days, jackets, football?

People are in the mood for football. It’s in the air.

They might also be into watching the new network shows. Even hockey could be eating away at those ratings. There are a lot of baseball cities that have NHL teams and they all have all their games on local TV.

It’s cold outside and it’s 9:00 before the first inning is over.

This is just another sign that baseball is dying a slow death. It’s going to take a long time, but there aren’t any kids staying up until midnight to watch the Phillie and the Giants.

The best moments of the year are happening when they’re asleep.

Not exactly the best formula for creating new fans.

In a lot of cities, there are entire generations that have not felt like their team was a part or Major League Baseball. When the post season comes, they feel like they’re outside with their noses pressed against the window watching a party and they aren’t invited.

After a while, you walk away and find something else to do.

MLB is a long way from being on its death bed, but the symptoms of a fatal disease have been there for a while.

  • Ochotexto

    JS you missed a classic in Game 6 Phil vs SF. Better than any football game played yet this year. The Giants win the pennant……the Giants win the pennant….. The World Series will be the 10 th highest payroll (SF) vs the 27 th highest (Tex). True baseballs system is more than unfair. But this is proof you can win with a small payroll. In fact.m id guess Texas will be favored. Maybe you’ll watch if Bush throws out the first pitch when they go to Arlington.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      The Giants have the 5th highest payroill in the NL–more importantly–they have the second highest in their division, only 8 million less than the Dodgers. When your payrioll is in the 100 million range, 8 million is nothing, The Rangers are there for one reason–Cliff Lee and they were able to rent him because they were coming out of bankruptcy and they play in the 5th largest TV market. They won’t be 27th next year. They’ll have to pay Lee at least 25 million a year to keep him from going to the Yankees. They just signed a TV deal worth $80 million a year with a huge amount up front.Glad you enjoyed the game. Believe me. I know what I’m missing. I’ll watch when there’s a salary cap.

  • Ochotexto

    I just find it ironic how oft talk you about the dumbing down of America then trample baseball while trying to pass off hockey as a legit sport. It’s own greatest player referred to it as a garage league. There’s more strategy in one inning of baseball than in an entire season of hockey. And we’ve already proven NFL ratings are driven by gambling., fantasy., etc……
    First you said baseball was dead. Then it was dying. Now its dying a slow death . Then it will die but not in our lifetime……I guess with all those caveats you can never be wrong.
    And never worry of offending me., it’s impossible., but I launch back.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      My 9 yr old grandsons don’t care about strategy and they couldn’t name one player on the Pirates. It’s their generation that will determine if baseball maintains its current level of populaqrity. The people who go to games now are people who grew up with MLB when it wasn’t a joke and their children and grandchildren. The college kids whose parent grew up watching the Pirates and passed it down to them, have no idea what it’s like to live in a town with a real MLB team. They won’t have the passion that you and so many other people from our generation still have and they won’t be passing it down, Like I said. Slow death. It’s already dead here unless you count bobble head and fireworks nights,

      • Ochotexto

        No wonder., you hid his glove and bat.

  • Ochotexto

    How do you know so much about Cliff Lee when you don’t follow or watch the games ? Hmmmmm…. , interesting. Lincecum vs. Hallady tonight JS., let me know what you think of the game tomorrow. Great matchup., drama ., theater. Best game invented.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I can still read. Lee is audtioning for the Yankees and the Red Sox. The Rangers were able to afford to trade for him because of money they got when they were bailed out of bankruptcy. There are some owners who aren’t happy about it. Lee is a perfect example of why I don’t watch. He became available at the trade deadline and there were only three or four teams that could afford him. He’ll be in NY or Boston next year. I wish I could watch. I always liked pitcher’s duels. I have never seen either of the guys going tonight throw a live pitch. I’ll see the highlights tonight.

  • Ochotexto

    I’m a geek for liking baseball strategy ? From a guy who always bitches about stupid people and fans. Tell the people in SF/Tex that or try and buy a ticket. Hockey has no strategy. All you need to do is finish 8th. Nothing else matters. Go worship your boy icons. Were there any good fights ?

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I used to be a baseball geek. I didn’t mean it as an insult. I appreciated the game exactly the way you do now. Unfortunately for baseball, strategy doesn’t work too well on Sportscenter or in a video game. Young kids don’t have the patience for baseball. Next time you go to a restaurant, check out how many kids are sitting there playing video games. They can’t go 20 minutes without them. They’re not going to want to hear about playing the infield in or moving the runner over. I used to love that about baseball and still would if MLB were not such an insult to my intelligence. By the way, there have been some very good fights so far this season and I’ve enjoyed them all.

  • saneman

    I love it. I hope a bunch of baseball games get snowed out and ruin the season. Cold air also means not as many HRs.

    There is something wrong when the Word Series is in early winter and the NHL playoffs is inthe early summer days.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Bingo.

  • LilRed

    Baseball season is toooooo long. Too many teams make for a horribly long season. I personally don’t like baseball, never have. The playoffs take forever, and it’s so boring. I’d rather have a root canal w/o Novocaine than watch a baseball game!!

  • TheDude

    Here’s how to fix baseball…cut the league back to 16 teams. Maybe 20, tops. The quality of players will go up, the competition will improve, and cities like Pgh will have a season that goes past April.

    But, MLB would lose lots of cash, so it won’t happen.

    • saneman

      You cut the league to 16 teams, Pittsburgh will be one of the first to get kicked out.

      • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

        Pittsburgh got kicked out a long time ago. Just not officially.

        • Kay

          I learned baseball from my Grandfather in the 50′s. The demise of baseball for me was the televised game. All of a sudden it took longer to play the game. Pitches took longer, it got boring. I thought Jim Leland should have been coach of the year, every year because he started with practically a new team every season. And he had to deal with a bitter Barry Bonds. I also saw Bonds wave off young boys anxious for his autograph. He was a jerk. That is the last game I paid to see.
          Someone posted about Johnny Bench. My friend lived in Covington KY right across the river. Her son was a big fan, so Becky called the Cubs clubhouse and invited him to lunch on her son’s birthday. He arrive with an autograph and invitation to visit the locker room before the game. Doesn’t sound like a jerk to me.
          Still a Steeler fan, i have been able to make friends in CA who are displaced Pittsburgers like me thru steeler and penguin shirts and jackets. It is fun to discuss Pittsburgh in Asile 4 of Safeway in Morgan Hill with 4 others.
          And what’s wrong with Joe Paterno?

  • mickey

    did you see how skinny barry bonds is now?

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Probably Weight Watchers.

  • Ken

    Baseball has been dying for a long time. I think a salary cap that made more teams competitive would help, but time may really have just passed the game by. It’s still huge in some cities like NY, Boston, and St. Louis, but in so many places it just fills time before football season starts.

    I think that too many TV games have actually hurt the game, and that overexposure is something that could eventually hurt the NFL,althougth playing only 16 or 18 games will likely prevent that.

    With baseball, you can see all or nearly all of your team’s games. On any given night during the season, you can see 2 or 3 games from other markets.

    When I was young, there were maybe 40 Pirates games per season televised, and those were road games. There was a national game on Saturday afternoon and sometimes on Monday night. You looked forward to seeing them. You rarely saw the American League, which gave the All-Star Game and World Series a certain mystique that is lost forever.

    TV does expose more people to your product, but I think baseball went into overkill a long time ago. You have to leave the fans wanting more, rather than being sick of seeing your product all the time.

  • mark

    John- the players contracts are guaranteed, they are the highest paid athletes, and even a lowly pirates club can make money. i see your points, but this does not seem like a very sick sport to me.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I’m talking long term. The Pirates lose fans every year.

      • Dr. Phibes

        Attendance was up this year, wasn’t it?

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          It’s a slow death.

  • Bubba

    Baseball needs a 24 second clock between pitches….

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      It needs a salary cap.

  • Ochotexto

    It’s a long way from it’s death bed., you want it to die JS but it will never happen. No thanks to Selig or the idiots who run it., but to Abner Doubleday., the Ben Franklin of sports., best game ever invented. More drama and strategy in these playoffs so far than any 100 regular season hockey matches. The fans in Texas /SF aren’t worried where there players sign next year., their future is now.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I used to love getting into the strategy and the real baseball geeks (I was one) still do. That’s my point. Twenty-five year olds guys with tatoos don’twant strategy. There are fewer and fewer people whp appreciate the game every year. They’re dying off and they won’t be replaced.

  • MPM

    This is really nothing new. The World Series has had a rating of between 9 and 15 with a share between 14 and 26 for the last ten to fifteen years. Baseball hasn’t had really good TV numbers since the late 1980′s. I agree that these games start way too late, although it’s been nice to see some afternoon games the last few days.

    I will say that Ron Darling is an excellent analyst on the games on TBS.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com Rob H.

      It will be interesting to see how badly the Saints/Steelers crush game 4 of the World Series in a few weeks.
      The NFL knew what it was doing when it scheduled that match-up.

      • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

        All you need to know that is that there are World Series games SCHEDULED for November.

  • YNGController

    The only thing baseball has going for it is that the mainstream sports media crams it down your throat. The same media that runs hockey down at any chance they get.

  • John

    I think we’ve seen the beginning of the end for the Big 4 sports as we know them. I don’t think it will be quick, but the glut of available options is a true game changer. I don’t know if we’ll be watching indoor, touch football, cricket, lacrosse, or volleyball in 50 years, but I bet we won’t be watching the Big 4 sports as we do know.

  • VinceL

    On Monday a one sided game between 2 mediocre small market NFL teams outdrew the Yankees!I read a few weeks ago where film producer Ken Burns said “baseball has never been better…”Ken needs to get out of New York and Boston once in a while.

    • Ken

      Everyone heaps praise on everything that Ken Burns produces. Highly overrated.

      I didn’t see his more recent baseball show on PBS, but if you watched the first one years ago, you’d get the impression that baseball was virtually non-existent outside of New York and the Negro League.

  • Niblick

    The ratings may get a lot worse if the Yankees get eliminated. They are the only reason that I watch the playoffs. Every other team is boring at this point. Although, Texas is a good story if MLB can market them correctly.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Cliff Lee is auditioning for the Yankees and the Red Sox.

  • Rich

    I haven’t watched a post season game in at least ten years. I have no interest. John you are right. Like horse racing and boxing the game is dying.

  • Dr. Phibes

    I don’t buy the argument that if the kids aren’t watching it, its bad for the sport. Monday Night Football goes well past 11:00, sometimes midnight. It’s not even on network TV anymore, yet the ratings for football as well as football interest overall isn’t hurting.

    Also, I doubt very much that televised October hockey games have any impact at all on who watches a baseball game. Wasn’t it just a few years ago that a rerun of The Crosby Show on Nick-at-Nite outdrew a Stanley Cup Finals game?

    I understand how destructive baseball’s economic model is. But we had 8 good playoff teams this year all with interesting story lines. Right now we have the Rangers with their low payroll dominating the Yankees and the high-rent Phillies on the ropes as well. Leave the baggage behind and enjoy what is a great post-season instead of grinding an axe over what you wish it was.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      The cumulative effect of people in NHL cities watching their hockey team is not the same as a national telecast. You don’t and never did see kids at NFL games in the numbers that you saw them at baseball games. Bad comparison. All the Sunday afternoon games are accessible to kids.

  • JWK

    Thanks for posting that link, John. TV ratings are the key to sports success in this day an age. MLB proponents point to attendance being stable or better than ever. So what. More money comes in from TV I’m sure than gate receipts. Interest in the sport is also tied to how good your local team is. Like you said many fans see little or no hope for their favorite team winning or sustaing a winner. If your favorite team gets into the playoffs in any sport interest will rise. The NFL and NHL not only taylor their product to work well on TV but the chances of your team becoming a winner or champion are better as well. MLB can not say the same.

    • kilrain

      “free to ignore them”?? You’re obsessed with baseball ! You post more comments about baseball than you do your beloved Pens. I guess it’s just a coincidence that you got interested in hockey again right around the time the Pens became Cup contenders/champs.
      You look at baseball from such a provincial point of view it kills your credibility on the subject.

      • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

        I cover Pittsburgh sports. Pittsburgh no longer has a real MLB franchise. I would like to see that change. I NEVER watch the games. I follow the stupidity very cloely. I decided hockewy was the best sport in 1982 based on watching my son play. They won their first Cup in 91 as I recall.

        • JB

          I have to disagree with you on this one and its based on the same merits of why you hate baseball so much. I have a hard time enoying a sport, hockey, that is mainly only available to people in the U.S. that can afford it. When I was younger I desperately wanted to play the sport and try it but I was told that it is too expensive and we couldn’t afford it. This is an issue far beyond the way the MLB has damaged its game. And people wonder why it is pretty much non-existent in all but about 5 cities in America.

        • Scootermojo

          I will say this, John, and just hear me out: is it possible that Pittsburgh is no longer a Major League town? After all, MLB follows capitalism more than any other sport which makes it more of a business than sport…has been that way since it’s inception in 1871 with the original National Association that morphed in the National League in 1876. They’ve always put teams in the biggest cities population-wise…maybe Pittsburgh just isn’t cutting it anymore for their business model. I wouldn’t want the Pirates to leave but it’s just a thought that occurred to me since this city has dropped in population dramatically over the past 40 plus years.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            The Steelers and Penguins are doing OK. They play in a league with a salary cap. Pittsburgh is not a Major League BASEBALL city anymore and will never be again unless there is a salary cap.

          • saneman

            Steelers and Pens would be doing well even if there was no cap. Steelers are in a big football market which spans much more than the Pittsburgh city limits. Penguins will always draw a high percentage as long as they have superstars on the rosters.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            Before free agency the Pirates were a much more successful organization than the Pirates. Without a cap, the Penguins and the Steelers become the Pirates–not worth talking about.

  • Scootermojo

    Of course the NFL is going to get great ratings….it’s only ONE game scheduled regularly on Sunday afternoons. It’s no secret to what the NFL owes it’s success. It’s not the actual game of football itself which is EXTREMELY boring coupled with tiresome “look at me” antics both on and off the field. Also, how many of these people are true fans of the NFL? How many just put the game on because they, as you say and I agree, are fans of being fans? How many put the game on simply because there isn’t diddly squat on TV on a Sunday afternoon? How many people have the game on while doing something else only to look at the TV when something interesting happens which is about only 2% of the actual game?

    I agree with you that the MLB playoff games should start earlier and that it’s not in the best financial or whatever shape it could be in but it’s far from dying. Revenues and attendance are up…the past 3-4 years are the highest in it’s history. TV ratings are also up compared to years in the past from I last read. The state of the industry is relatively healthy.

    One thing about your opinion…I don’t comprehend your hypocrisy. You constantly badmouth the NFL and, more specifically, it’s “fans” because it doesn’t have the true fans other sports do…I couldn’t agree more. You also state one of the reasons you like hockey is due to it’s relative low popularity which means there are more true fans rather than people who jump on the bandwagon like in the NFL….again, I couldn’t agree more. But then you turn around and cite the “lack” of popularity of baseball? Maybe it’s lower because they have more true fans and less bandwagon jumpers who don’t nothing about the sport like football at any level? Using that as a barometer means that MLB really does not have much to worry about.

    Once again I think your homerism viewpoint regarding sports has skewered your view due to the fact that the Pirates are an inept franchise. If you like the sport you’d like it and follow it regardless. If and more precisely WHEN next years NFL lockout begins and they eventually come back without a salary cap and the Squeelers are no longer able to compete and go back to their glory days of a 40 year span as possibly the worst franchise in sports history like they were from their inception until 1971 will you watch or blog about their games as you do now? If you don’t then you are not a true fan.

    Did you watch the Pens from ’01 until the lockout when they had a hard time competing and were dumping salary because they couldn’t afford players in a non-salary cap era? If you didn’t then you weren’t a true fan and you’d be on the same level as the vast majority of football “fans” who are only their because it’s the “cool thing to do.”

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I stopped being a fan a long time ago. You can’t be a fan and also be a reporter. As I’ve said many times here, I refuse to pay attention to a “league” that is missing the key ingredient that has to exist for a league to be legitimate- fair competition. Because of my former job, I was REQUIRED to pay attention to the Pirates. Now I’m free to ignore them and all of MLB. If the NFL loses the cap and becomes the equivalent of MLB, I’ll stop watching immediately. When the Penguins were in the same situation as the Pirates, I advised people to ignore them. I paid attention because I was required to. After the reformation I was back to liking hockey more than any other sport,.

      • Scootermojo

        well, then you’re not a fan of any sport.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          Can’t be a real fan and a real reporter at the same time.

          • Scootermojo

            good comeback…i’m stumped!!! ha ha.

      • http://justwatchthegame.com Bobzilla

        I understand what Scooter is saying, and I agree to a certain extent. But when I see hundreds of screaming, young girls flooding the entrances of the arena just to get a glimpes of those cute, young hockey players, I’ve got to believe they are not actual fans of hockey but rather fans of cute, young guys. It reminds me of when the Beatles were in Pittsburgh in 1964.
        I have a feeling that once these little girls grow up, they won’t find hockey to be so appealing.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          You couldn’t be more wrong and you have ZERO credibility on the appeal of hockey. You don’t sell out 180 games in a row at 50 bucks a ticket with little girls,. There are just as many Steelers groupies and if the Pirates weren’t a joke they’d have them too.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com Bobzilla

            True.
            But since when does someone need “credibility” to voice an opinion or share an observation?
            There should be no denying that the Pens have gone above and beyond to attract a younger audience via discount ticket prices.
            A co-worker, who is in his mid to late 40s, has used his nephew’s “military” discount on a number of occasions to gain entrance to Pens games. The Pens did, or still do, grant discounts to college students.
            When watching the hype before games, including this season’s home-opener, the local news outlets always pan the crowd outside the arena, which always includes a sizeable number of giggling young girls roaming around.
            While I readily admit my hockey credibility is ZERO, my eyesight is still 20/20.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            The Penguins are smart. Those college kids will be adult ticket buyers some day. The Penguins could easily sell out every game in advance, They could probably sell 25,000 tickets a game. They purposely make tickets available to college kids in order to cultivate future fans. Again, there are no more giggling girls at Penguins games than there are at Steelers games–percentage wise. And there were lots of giggling girls at Pirates games when they were a real MLB team.

  • Ryan

    Great points John. As both a Pirates and a Tigers fan, I haven’t watched a playoff game in 4 yrs. An NL playoff game? 18 years. If you don’t have a dog in the fight, baseball can get a little boring nowdays.

  • Ken

    If it’s Rangers vs. Giants in the World Series, the ratings will really be a disaster.

  • francis

    off – topic…steigs in your days covering teams did you ever have an athlete confide something to you “off the record”…in other words an issue he may have strong feelings about or have knowledge on but dosent want you to use their name…just wondering is all…peaceout…

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Yep.