Why I Am Over MLB [OPINION]
I have loved baseball since I was barely big enough to walk. Growing up, I was a big Oakland A’s fan (yes, I was a front-running six-year-old), until I became a die-hard Twins fan at the age of nine.
I have subscribed to MLB.tv for the last 12 seasons, including this one and it is generally the only thing you will find on my TV during the summer.
I can tell you who has won every World Series since 1982, my birth year. I have attended hundreds of MLB games over the years in different states, and in 2009 I went to over 100 Twins games.
With all that said, why do I suddenly feel like I am forcing myself to watch baseball this season? It would also appear that I am not the only one feeling this way- average attendance in MLB is currently at just 27,622 fans per game, which is the lowest it has been since 1996.
One of the things that kills me is the extreme commercialism of today’s game. From the ads all over the walls in the outfield and behind home plate, to the two minute commercial breaks in between every half-inning and every element of the game being sponsored on the broadcasts, it’s just too much.
I can’t believe I pay $100/month for cable, with most of that money going to ESPN/Fox Sports carriage fees, and still have to sit through commercials and listen to live reads throughout the game. In Europe, soccer is shown commercial-free. The trade-off is small logos on jerseys and ribbon boards surrounding the pitch with constant ads.
Somehow, in MLB and other professional American sports, we get ALL of those things (save for the jersey ads, which only the NBA has at this point).
There is a misconception about the length of games being an issue. For me, it’s more about the PACE of the play. Pitchers taking over thirty seconds to throw a pitch are a major boredom inducer, as are batters who need to step out of the batter’s box after each and every pitch to “reset.”
Anecdotally, it seems like there are simply less balls put in play in general compared to years past. Every at-bat seems to last 7-8 pitches, with most ending in a strikeout or walk.
The cost of going to a game has also gotten ridiculous. The average cost to go to a game at the Metrodome in 2009, with the Twins coming off of six playoff appearances in nine seasons, was approximately $21, with upper deck general admission seats starting at just six dollars for any regular season game.
Granted, the Twins have moved outdoors to very cool Target Field in 2010, but the average ticket price has nearly doubled to $32.68, while the team has been butt. You’ll need an advanced math degree to figure out how much your ticket will cost for a game, with 27 different seat pricing tiers and five different “levels” of games/opponents.
Add the $10-$20 for parking and $6 bottles of water and $11 hamburgers and you are in for well over $200 for a family of four to attend a game.
Don’t get me started on the game experience itself, as it seems like the last people that teams are trying to please are the people who are there to actually watch a baseball game. From blaring music between every pitch, scoreboards literally demanding “LOUD NOISES,” and an endless glut of bars and premium seating areas for those people who couldn’t care less about the game, actual baseball fans are sent further and further to the back of the line.
Finally, I just do not feel like the Twins, or a lot of other teams, are truly making an effort to put a winning team on the field. The mantra seems to be to put together a ‘decent’ team that, if everything goes right, could maybe get a Wild Card.
The Pohlad family bought the Twins for $32 million in 1984, while the team is now valued at $1.15 billion dollars. Despite the fact that the Pohlads will pocket a cool BILLION dollars whenever they decide to cash out, they continue to put a mediocre product on the field, devoid of any impact free agents or additions that would boost the club into a legitimate playoff contender.
Between the glacial pace of the games, the cost to go to a game in person, the constant noise and distraction and the marginalization of the average fan I just can’t get into it like I used to.