Baseball is a popular sport that originated in the United States during the mid-19th century. It is often referred to as America’s pastime and has since become one of the most widely played and watched sports worldwide. The game involves two teams, each consisting of nine players, taking turns to bat and field.
Baseball is an American ball sport where players use a bat to hit the ball as far as possible. The game is played between two teams, which have nine players each, and they take turns batting and fielding, and try to outscore each other. The game is played over nine innings (plays), and each team gets to bat and play defence for one inning, with the goal of scoring more runs than the other team.
The offensive team’s (battling team) goal is to hit the ball as hard as possible in order to let it fly away from the opposing team’s catchers in the field, while the offensive team run the bases.
If the batter is able to hit the ball and make it fly outside of the field, then it’s called a “homerun,” because the batter can run all of the four bases unopposed. If the batter is unable to achieve a home run, then all he and his teammates have to do is avoid getting hit by the ball, which is thrown by the catcher from the field, or get tagged by one of the catchers themselves while they’re holding the ball. Or if the catcher touches the home plate before the runner reaches it.
Meanwhile, the defensive team (fielding team) will attempt to stop the batting team from advancing to the bases. This responsibility mostly falls on to the pitcher, and he has to do his best to throw a curve ball and make the opposing team’s batter swing and miss. Making huge efforts to prevent the rival team score points, especially a home run, is imperative. It would be a costly mistake to allow them to do it otherwise.
If the batter misses three times (a miss is called a strike), then he’ll be temporarily removed from the game until the inning is complete. However, if the batter hits the ball and is able to safely run the bases, then their team scores. The team’s coach would often encourage their players to aim for the home run as much as they can, so they can overwhelm the rival team with tons of scores and win the game.
The Basic Elements of Baseball
Baseball is typically played on a grassy field with a diamond-shaped infield. The diamond consists of four bases: first base, second base, third base, and home plate. The bases are arranged in a square, and the distance between them is 90 feet (27.43 meters).
The objective of the game is for the offensive team (batting team) to score runs by hitting a pitched ball and safely running around the bases back to home plate. The defensive team (fielding team) tries to prevent the offensive team from scoring runs by catching the batted balls and making plays to tag out the runners.
A player from the fielding team, known as the pitcher, throws the ball towards the batter from the pitcher’s mound, which is located at the centre of the infield and 60 feet 6 inches (18.44 meters) away from home plate. The pitcher’s primary goal is to deliver the ball accurately and with various speeds and movements to make it difficult for the batter to hit.
The pitcher can throw a curved ball (strategically tossing the baseball ball on a curved path to make the batter swing and miss) that can technically prevent the rival team from scoring. It’s unacceptable for them to achieve a home run score also.
The batter from the offensive team stands at home plate and attempts to hit the pitched ball with a bat. If the batter hits the ball into fair territory and can reach at least first base before being tagged out, they become a base runner. Each player who will bat next carries the responsibility to make a home run hit, but it’s not a requirement though.
Once a player becomes a base runner, they aim to advance around the bases in a counterclockwise direction, attempting to reach home plate and score a run. Runners can advance one base or more if the ball is hit well or due to fielding errors by the defensive team.
The defensive team tries to get the offensive players out to prevent them from scoring. There are several ways to get a batter or runner out, including striking out the batter, catching a batted ball before it hits the ground, tagging runners with the ball, or forcing runners out at bases.
Innings and Scoring
A standard baseball game consists of nine innings, with each team having the opportunity to bat and field. The team with the most runs at the end of the nine innings (or extra innings if the game is tied) wins the game.
Baseball has numerous professional leagues, with Major League Baseball (MLB) being the most prominent and popular in the world. The sport also has a rich history and is associated with many legendary players, records, and memorable moments. A home run equals 4 points, which is crucial for a baseball team to win, especially if both teams’ scores are very close.
Is Baseball Still Relevant in 2023? No More Hope for a Home Run
The word is out in the news – it seems that baseball is steadily losing its appeal on the American people, and probably the rest of the world. Currently, the National Football League reigns supreme in the American sports lexicon. This couldn’t be more obvious, with the annual NFL Superbowl games drawing in more and more people, as well as a ton of sponsors to foot the bill.
According to a recent study conducted at the University of Michigan, the 2022 world championship series of the MLB (Major League Baseball) saw a 50% drop in viewership when compared to what it had in 2016. Compare that to football; people are actually obsessed with this sport all year long! Free agents are raving around in a frenzy which creates a hype that reaches multiple media outlets, including TV, radio shows, newspapers and magazines. The drafts, offseason, training camps and personal stories also make the headlines.
Regular season is now having 3 days a week of games, outperforming other sports in audience share. The Boomer generation loved baseball and during the pre-World War II era, baseball also dominated the sports world in the United States. It was America’s national game, and everyone loved it. Today’s new generation and millennials are all into American football, and attention goes where money flows, or so they say.
Fans can only enjoy watching baseball between spring and late summer, yet despite no other sports is competing for ratings during these times, baseball is still struggling to attract more people, let alone getting back to their old status just some 7 years ago.
What’s worse is that World Series ratings have been consistently low since 2005, according to the Baseball Almanac. The MLB stated their annual profit in 1995, which was $1.5 billion, with a huge increase by as much as 500% ($7.5 billion) in their financial reports in 2012. Last year they reported a $10.8 billion revenue as well, yet viewers are changing the channel to where the NFL is being aired, while the World Series is ongoing on their TV!
A 2008 Gallup poll revealed that 41% of the respondents said that they prefer football over baseball when asked about what their favorite sport was.
What Happened to the MLB?
Re-evaluating the game, we came to a conclusion that baseball have 3 main factors that cause the sport to decline in popularity, and those are;
- Salary cap
- Lesser media coverage
- Nature of the game
Perhaps the biggest and most frustrating factor that slowly makes baseball irrelevant today is salary cap. No salary caps means teams in traditionally small markets won’t be able to compete against large market teams. This is exactly the reason why viewers change the channel over to where an NFL show is being aired. After all, who would want to watch a baseball game with only moderately skilled players playing the game? As some fans have said it, “it’s boring.”
When there are no salary caps, teams can just buy out talents from small market teams by outbidding them. Therefore, the team with the best offer wins the best baseball player. That’s a home run for teams like Cleaveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks! For example, the payroll for a 26-man team in the New York Mets is roughly $353.5 million per year, while the New York Yankees is approximately $277 million for 2023.
These are crazy numbers! The NBA’s payroll barely reaches $200 million per team per year, and the NFL’s payroll goes just some $20 million more than what the NBA teams pay their players annually.
On the other hand, small market teams like the Oakland Athletics only have a $44-million payroll for 2023. Small-market fans lose interest in their local teams, as they see home-grown talent get traded to large-market teams, because these baseball players are seeking bigger paychecks from these big-time MBL teams in other states. Once you lose fan support, you can be certain that your sport is headed for the cliff, although you may not feel the effects right away. But it will happen one day.
Lesser Media Coverage
There are two kinds of sports fans in this world: the casual sports fans and hardcore fans. Unfortunately, the casual fans outnumber the hardcore fans by a 100:1 ratio and you may want to change your marketing strategy about your sports to cater to both type of fans, rather than just focusing on the hardcore fans. Compared to other sports in America, names like LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow are easily recognisable by both, the casual and hardcore fans.
The reason behind this is that the NBA and the NFL get more press coverage on their players than the players in the MLB. Perhaps the NFL and the NBA are actively working on promoting future football and basketball stars, whereas in the MLB, there are crickets! No news about the next Yankees star outfielder or the future shortstop of the Texas Rangers. Even national MLB stars like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are barely getting any feature interviews on ESPN or the MLB Network, except for the occasional mentions here and there.
It seems the only thing that’s trending among baseball fans are the great players of the past, such as Babe Ruth, Cy Young or Hank Aaron. These are baseball legends who have made the home run their status quo. New promising young talents in MLB are not talked much about, whether among fans or the media.
The Nature of the Game
One thing about baseball that made it great during its hayday back in pre-World War II era is that it entertained Americans during their free time, which they had a lot in those days, despite already being in the 40-hour workweek era. But the reason why they had extra time for leisure after work is that they didn’t have modern technology like smartphones and computers to entertain themselves.
Today, however, we get on our smartphones every chance we get – even while at work. It also shortens our attention spans, thus creating people with ADHD, which has now become a common neurodevelopmental disorder of childhood due largely, in fact, to hand-held devices. With so much of our time – whether allocated for work or leisure – we no longer have time to enjoy other things like baseball, or starting a new hobby.
Therefore, it is very likely that people are going to lose interest in many things, and it seems obvious now that baseball may become the first victim of this 21st-century techno mania.
Now, when you dive deep into the nature of baseball, which is more than just the home run hits, you will notice that it’s kind of boring, especially if you look at it from the perspective of someone who is addicted to their gadgets. Baseball requires the knowledge and patience of fans much more than any of the other major sports. There is also not a lot of fast-paced action in it, except for maybe the home run, and this can put off some casual fans, and make them turn to other “more exciting” sports they could find.
In summary, it is these most damning factors that have caused the decline of this sport, and unless the MLB commissioner does something to improve baseball’s image, no home run hits will save this declining American sport.