BOSTON (CBS) — Baseball is back tonight at Fenway Park after the All Star Break, and if you’re a baseball junkie like yours truly, it’s cause for celebration.
But if you listen to 98.5 The Sports Hub as often as I do, you know that during the break, there’s been a lot of chatter about what’s wrong with baseball. The Red Sox’ TV ratings are down, the game is struggling to attract younger followers, and even longtime fans are complaining about how long the games are running.
There’s no arguing with any of those problems. So the question is, how to fix them?
You may have noticed that this year intentional walks are automatic, without the pitcher having to throw the four balls. There’s talk of limiting visits to the mound, forcing hitter to stay in the batter’s box, and so on. But does anyone think the minutes this would shave off game time will make a difference?
One sportswriter a few years ago suggested taking advantage of our obsession with our smartphones by allowing fans to vote on managerial moves during the game, with results posted on the jumbotron. That might keep fans busy, but will it draw more of them to the park?
I have a better idea – leave the game alone.
The surplus of alternative entertainment options and changing generational tastes are eroding fan support, but that doesn’t mean the game is broken. It still drew more than 73 million paying fans last year, and the networks are falling over each other to televise it.
Maybe the peak popularity of baseball has come and gone, but maybe there’s nothing to be done about that–other than making sure you don’t wreck a good thing.
You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.